I'm looking for a word that describes a curious, interested state of mind- open minded, exploring, wondering, but without being nosy.

  • 2
    What is the context?
    – Urbycoz
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 14:38
  • 18
    Isn't just plain "curiosity" positive enough?
    – Anko
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 18:49
  • 6
    You give no less than four good answers in your own question: curious, interested, open-minded, and exploring (or explorative) are all perfectly good, positive words to describe this. Commented May 9, 2014 at 20:26

5 Answers 5


"inquisitiveness" and "inquiringness."

inquisitive: given to inquiry, research, or asking questions; eager for knowledge; intellectually curious: an inquisitive mind.

inquiring: seeking facts, information, or knowledge: an inquiring mind.

Alternately, consider "thirst," "craving," "appetency,"appetite" (for learning, knowledge, etc.), and "intellectual acquisitiveness."

acquisitiveness: having a strong desire to acquire things, as ideas and information: an acquisitive mind.

  • I have been around some very inquisitive kids and I am in no way saying this in a positive way. Commented May 9, 2014 at 20:08
  • 2
    I have never heard inquiringness used in English. Is it a word? Maybe... I am thinking you added it after you put my answer (interest) in a thesaurus tool. Have you ever heard the word used in real life? Commented May 9, 2014 at 20:55
  • For me, there's actually a negative connotation to this word. From the Oxford dictionary online: "inquisitive: 1. Curious or inquiring: 'he was very chatty and inquisitive about everything'. 1.1 Unduly curious about the affairs of others; prying: 'I didn’t want to seem inquisitive'". Also, the word is associated with the inquisition, which definitely doesn't bring anything positive to my mind. How about pairing curiosity with an adjective, like benevolent curiosity or something similar? Commented May 9, 2014 at 23:58

I would also offer interested, since it is still very positive and has almost the same meaning as curious.

  • showing curiosity or concern about something or someone; having a feeling of interest.
  • 4
    I don't see the connection between attentive and curious at all. One can be attentive and curious (inquisitive), inattentive (scatterbrained) and curious, incurious and attentive (perfunctory), or incurious and inattentive (apathetic).
    – ghoppe
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 20:42
  • @ghoppe - I don't think it is far from curious. If you are curious about something then I am sure it holds your attention. But I don't disagree with you in that it isn't an exact match. That is why I offered "interested" but attentive to me is a very positive word so I wanted that to be in the answer. I am not sure how inquisitive is positive. Maybe I am missing the boat here but curious and inquisitive are basically the same thing with the (exact) same connotation of positiveness. Actually inquisitive seems annoying and curious seems a bit more positive. Commented May 9, 2014 at 20:46
  • My point, clumsily made as it was, is that you can be attentive to something without being curious about it at all. The words don't describe the same state of mind. I agree that curious and inquisitive are close synonyms. I disagree that "inquisitive" is in general, more negative. Having an "inquisitive mind" rarely has a negative connotation.
    – ghoppe
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 20:58
  • @ghoppe - I understand where you are coming from with an inquisitive mind... but I am guessing that you either haven't been around kids asking a million questions or had to teach an annoying person who wouldn't stop asking questions... Or maybe you have much more patience than I do! I understand your point but I think there is a population that would disagree. Commented May 9, 2014 at 21:01

Consider "Scientific Curiosity".

Although this is a specific kind, it can actually be rather broad. It also doesn't have any negative connotation to it that I've noticed.


Intellectual curiosity is needed for some types of investigation or inquiry.


How about "earnest curiosity" or "genuine curiosity"

  • You've provided good adjectives that fit with the OP's request, but the question is asking for a single word. However, I realize you're not the first user to suggest adjectives, others have posted theirs too. sigh :(
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 12:34

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