I was recently writing a testimonial, and I wanted a positive substitute for those words. The adjective is for describing the guy in question (i.e. He is a _____ guy). Any ideas?
You might use "reliable" or "dependable", but if "dull" and "boring" do not interfere with other virtues, perhaps you might simply not mention them.
How about steady, or perhaps predictable?
What about straitlaced? It's a good word for a conventional fellow.
If you actually want a positive-sounding synonym for dull or boring, about the most positive-sounding word you could use might be unvaried.
Remember, though, that "dull" and "boring" are two words people never want to hear used to describe them.
NOAD takes boring to task pretty severely:
Just as sexy (q.v.) is the ultimate compliment, so boring is the most dreaded pejorative. Yet in most cases this distressing judgment comes as a surprise. Consider an all too common case. You work hard on a speech, and then realize—within five minutes—that you've misjudged the audience: The tuxedoed salesmen want laughs while they chow down on chicken marsala, not a reconsideration of Plato's theory of epistemology. Your address — were it presented to Oxford dons — might be showered with plaudits and huzzahs, but the overstuffed and half drunk listeners of Amalgmated Business Machines merely shuffle restlessly and glance at their Timex watches and hope that their tormentor — you — will just stop talking as soon as possible. Nonetheless, you doggedly soldier on, while secretly wishing you were dead. Therefore, when your turn comes to describe a performer, book, piece of music, weekly meeting, what have you, be kind and think twice: A man may excuse almost any criticism or insult, but he will never forget and never forgive being called boring. [Emphasis added.]
No matter how you dress it up with a synonym, you may wish to avoid even a euphemism for this word.
Depending on how far you are willing to go with bending things into compliments:
- even keel
- easy to understand
Another possibility is a negated antonym:
- not overexciting
- not overstimulating
- not busy
- not stressful
- not loud
- not aggressive
- not too complicated
It is the only word I can think of that has managed to remain truly descriptive and stay free of negative connotation.
It was an uneventful afternoon
does not suggest that you had a problem with it, while
It was a boring/dull/tedious/monotonous/etc. afternoon
all seem to carry with them a little more negativity.
Some additional alternatives to consider:
- He is a solid guy.
- He is a stable guy.
- He is a straight shooter.
The following is overused in American parlance to the point of dilute impotence. But a writer might still decide to use it for the purposes set out by OP.
- He is a laid back guy.
This one may have a (probably undeserved and slight) connotation of criminality because of the way it has been frequently used in movies about gangsters.
- He is a stand up guy.