0

Are there general modifiers for adjectives that indicate a gray area between the adjective and its negative?

E.g., "Plywood isn't wooden, but it isn't not-wooden either. Therefore, plywood is ____ly wooden." What goes in the blank?

"Partially" doesn't sound quite right, because it suggests that one piece of the noun really is described by the adjective; I'm looking for a word that places the whole noun in the middle of an adjective-spectrum.

Sorry for the dumb example, but that's just off the top of my head. Better examples would be appreciated as well.

  • 2
    Plywood is sort of wooden. – Jim May 31 '14 at 4:19
  • There but not quite there. – Kris May 31 '14 at 5:24
  • Thanks for the answers. I really didn't expect there to be a one-size word for this, but thought I'd throw it out anyway. – user77872 May 31 '14 at 17:45
2

"Therefore, plywood is quasi-wooden".

"Therefore, plywood is pseudo-wooden".

"Therefore, plywood is semi-wooden".

"Therefore, plywood is only nominally wooden".

  • Yes; these answers address the 'non-X, or at least not completely X, but not unconnected with X' notion I hope is behind the question. – Edwin Ashworth May 31 '14 at 8:36
2

Plywood is somewhat wooden

Plywood is sort of wooden

Plywood is kind of wooden

Plywood is more or less wooden

etc...

somewhat (adv.)

1) matters have improved somewhat: a little, a bit, to some extent, (up) to a point, in some measure, rather, quite, some; informal: kind of, kinda, sort of, sorta. ANTONYMS greatly.

2) a somewhat thicker book: slightly, relatively, comparatively, moderately, fairly, rather, quite, marginally.

Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus

1

In my opinion, it's perfectly accurate to say "plywood is wooden." I know it contains other materials, and since it does, it would be inaccurate to say, "plywood is wood."

Basically, I think you're fine saying "plywood is wooden" though it's not only made of wood.

  • You've hit the nail on the head: by definition, something can't be both X and non-X. And using different polysemes ( It's coffee, but it's not coffee coffee) has to be done with great care. Collins definitions essentially imply that plywood is both wooden and not wooden: wooden 1. (Forestry) made from or consisting of wood. 'Plywood is a wood-based semi-synthetic board material containing other essential materials.' – Edwin Ashworth May 31 '14 at 8:31
  • By definition -- yes, but I'm not really looking for a modifier to pin down an "accurate" description as much as one with that definition-evading frustration built in. I suppose that it would be most useful when modifying a more subjective adjective -- perhaps a personality type. – user77872 May 31 '14 at 17:43
0

I think I would use "somewhat:" in some degree or measure.

Some examples that come to mind:

That video game is somewhat popular; it is not unpopular, but it is not popular.

He uses somewhat proper grammar; it is not proper (perhaps he misuses semi-colons occassionally), but it is not what most people would call improper.

Note, though, that somewhat only weakens the adjective, so it's not a truly gray area.

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.