4

I would like to know if autodidact has a positive, negative, or neutral connotation behind it.

These questions asking about usage imply:

A neutral connotation:

A positive connotation:

A (slight) negative connotation:

  • How are you using it? – RyeɃreḁd Feb 21 '14 at 15:21
  • 1
    I'm not. I ran across it in a question on Programmers. My initial take is that it was used in an ambiguous context. I couldn't tell if they were trying to dish out a left-handed compliment or they were "merely stating facts" – GlenH7 Feb 21 '14 at 15:22
  • Answering the last example, If you have to ask . . . – David M Feb 21 '14 at 15:29
  • @DavidM - this is the sentence. "I believe the framework was developed internally because the engineer in question is an autodidact, and that at this time he didn't knew a framework which will satisfy his need." And I don't mean to derail my primary question, but my initial take was negative and then mollified to neutral. – GlenH7 Feb 21 '14 at 15:35
  • 1
    I meant, if you have to ask if it's too big of a word to use on your resume . . . it is. ;-) – David M Feb 21 '14 at 16:03
2

I think you've answered your own question above. It largely has to do with context. There is certainly no inherent connotation to the word other than self-taught.

There are definitely situations where being self-taught is positive, negative, and neutral.

For instance: A 15 year-old piano prodigy being an autodidact has an extremely positive connotation. (Some would call him a genius . . .)

A neurosurgeon who is an autodidact, well, that might be construed as negative. (Most would call him a criminal.)

I'm a serious amateur photographer who is an autodidact. I'd say it's fairly neutral. (The judgement would be withheld pending the quality of my work.)

Note I strongly prefer self-taught in my own usage.

  • Why is a "neurosurgeon who is an autodidact" bad? – Pacerier Jun 8 '15 at 19:36
1

To answer based on the usage I would say it has a slight negative connotation. First, this is not an informal word I would hear in a conversation. Second, if I were "self-taught", then using the word to reference myself is kind of like saying, "Not only am I self-taught, but I know big words too."

  • I don't know that this negative connotation is inherent to the word itself. Rather, it is your perception of the usage of a "big-word" that has the negative connotation (I'm not saying I like it, either . . .). If you read the word autodidact written about someone else, I don't know that you'd have the same reaction. – David M Feb 21 '14 at 15:28
  • It is the word that would rub me a certain way. Who would use that word to describe them self? – RyeɃreḁd Feb 21 '14 at 15:32
  • I don't disagree that self-taught is more pleasant. (I refrained from using mellifluous here, so as to avoid rubbing you any way . . .) But, I don't think the word impacts negatively on the person you use it to describe. I think that is the meaning of connotation in this case. As is said, "Big words, small mind." But, I don't think the poor guy you hang this label on is any worse for wear. – David M Feb 21 '14 at 16:01
  • @DavidM - Your last comment, is my whole point. – RyeɃreḁd Feb 21 '14 at 16:02
  • I agree with you on that front. But, again, I think it's not a connotation. Rather, you just dislike the word. – David M Feb 21 '14 at 16:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.