Is there an alternative way to say "old-fashioned" but with a distinct positive meaning?

It could be used as a compliment in the following scenario:
Woman: I want a man who can write sentences containing more than 3 words. It would be even better if he would use punctuation... I guess I am old-fashioned.
Man: You are not old-fashioned, you are [...]

The man can't say "You really are old-fashioned" to her and expect her to take it as a compliment. Most women would not take it as a compliment. I am looking for something a majority would take as a compliment. Best words I could come up with - decent/classy/traditional.

I am not a native English speaker, I can't come up with anything that conveys the meaning I want.

  • Obviously in your scenario both parties approve of being "old-fashioned", so there's no real reason to seek an alternative (the expression isn't inherently negative in all contexts). You might consider, say, traditional[ist], but it's much the same in that people who denigrate the past will see these terms as negative - and those who don't, won't. Oct 11 '14 at 20:29
  • 1
    Not clear what you are asking. Are you looking for a different "way to say 'old-fashioned' but with a good ring"? Or are you looking for an alternative that does not mean old-fashioned ("You are not old-fashioned; you are ___")?
    – Drew
    Oct 11 '14 at 20:30
  • And please say what having a good ring means to you. Otherwise, no one will be able to help you.
    – Drew
    Oct 11 '14 at 20:31
  • 1
    Traditional is the first word that came to mind. Looking up some synonyms, classic might be a good fit. Not quite the same meaning, but classy or refined could also work in the given scenario. Oct 11 '14 at 20:55
  • 1
    I suggest that traditional is neutral, but old-fashioned is negative (obsolete, glad to be rid of). The most positive word I could think of is a classic or classical. Oct 12 '14 at 20:21

Old-school is often used as a descriptor with positive connotations. Some might consider it a colloquialism, but the OED has citations going back almost 200 years for even the figurative sense of the expression.


Given the example above, I would suggest

'You are not old-fashioned, you have standards'

I realise it doesn't quite fit with the sentence provided, but it's complimentary and you could change it to '..you have high standards' which, given the low threshold of expectation, might be slightly humorous also.

  • 2
    After considering this, I came up with 'You are not old-fashioned, you are principled.'
    – Alo
    Oct 13 '14 at 11:36
  • or "You are not old-fashioned, you have old-fashioned values."
    – Scott
    Oct 14 '14 at 23:26

Retro or vintage perhaps? Retro seems to have a more neutral ring, whereas vintage seems to have a generally positive ring to it, but is not as close of a synonym.

  • 1
    Another suggestion might be "classic" or more colloquial (and perhaps slightly flirtatious), "classy."
    – Alex
    Jan 15 at 17:25
  • Perhaps a combination of adjectives such as "timelessly elegant."
    – Alex
    Jan 15 at 17:34
  • You could edit your answer instead of adding comments, which give you less freedom. Jan 15 at 18:00

"You're not old-fashioned, you merely prefer the classic/standard literacy paradigm".

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.