Is there a single adjective meaning 'hateful but indispensable' or something close? (Not "love-hate"). British or American would be OK.

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    Welcome to ELU! On this site, good questions are the ones that have details. Can you please include a context? You can also talk about your research on this question and include the words that you eliminated.
    – ermanen
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 2:48
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    Can you use the idea in a sentence? Really only humans are hateful yet you want an adjective... Commented May 22, 2014 at 3:52
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    Hated or hateful? Commented May 22, 2014 at 11:58
  • I assume you meant 'hated but indispensable' rather than hateful?
    – Doc
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 17:57

5 Answers 5


Necessary evil comes to mind first.

a necessary evil something that you do not like but which you know must exist or happen He considers taxes a necessary evil. See also: evil, necessary Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006. Reproduced with permission. retrieved online on May 22, 2014 at http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/a+necessary+evil

  • That's it. Support your answer. Find authentic references (definition of the idiom, ...) and perhaps, examples. (Before someone does it.) 'Comes to mind' is not an answer.
    – Kris
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 6:04
  • @ Kris Thanks. I see. This is supposed to be work. Perhaps just another necessary evil.Anyway, I'll throw a little research into the mix instead of just saying what I know. Maybe.
    – GMB
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 10:40
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    Yes, it's work that differentiates an answer from an opinion; earns you reputation (Eleven so far)! Even askers are expected to show homework.
    – Kris
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 12:37

I've noticed that the adjective lovable is often used to describe people or pets who elicit ambivalent feelings:

He was the bon vivant of The Boar’s Head Tavern and the philosopher of Eastcheap – a lovable rogue who not only made us laugh at him and with him, but also at ourselves [On Shakespeare's character Jack Falstaff]

GameDaily commented that while he is a "lovable oaf," others may see him as a "fat Pacific Islander who loves stuffing his face" [Description of Nintendo / cartoon character King Hippo]

I don't know how he does it but he is a lovable serial killer. [On the merits of Michael C Hall's acting performance as Dexter]

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    Surely here it is synonymous with 'charming'? I don't see 'lovable' implying any ambiguity - the first two are only positive albeit not totally fawning, and the second is an intentionally sharp contrast between the positive 'lovable' and the shocking 'serial killer'. Lovable rogue is purely complimentary.
    – Phil H
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 8:34
  • Even if you move out to something like "roguish", the word still communicates something good. The question is asking for something that's hateful at its core. I don't think loveable cuts it.
    – Oli
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 13:21
  • @PhilH While I agree that lovable is not the right word (there's nothing to indicate ambivalence), 'lovable rogue' isn't quite purely complimentary. A rogue is "a person whose behavior one disapproves of but who is nonetheless likable or attractive" in such context (alternatively, it could be "a dishonest or unprincipled man").
    – Doc
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 18:02

inescapable comes to mind. I think it covers your bases.

Hateful: something that you want to be removed from.

Indispensable: something that you can't do without.

Inescapable: implies that you want to escape it, but asserts that you cannot. Since we want to escape from hated things, and since we cannot escape things that are inescapable, inescapable implies that there is something that we are tied to that we wish we weren't.

For example:

The qualifying exam was an inescapable part of obtaining a PhD.

The old lady found shooting the attacking criminal inescapable: only one could survive.

I'd need to know the exact context, but I think it meets the criteria.

  • Please define the word and explain why it "covers your bases."
    – JLG
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 13:38


necessary: so important that you must do it or have it : absolutely needed; unable to be changed or avoided.

"I hate to do this, but it is necessary."


I'm not sure if this word carries with it the intensity you are looking for; however, nuisance tends to be used when referring to people or situations that are unavoidable. This is more of a connotative understanding of the word, but maybe this will fit your particular context?

For example, My dog is total nuisance. Your dog may agitate you, but that doesn't mean the dog is expendable.


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