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I'm looking for a word that means: bigotry against, or disdain for, uncouth people. ('Misanthropy' is too general, I think.) This would sort of be the converse of anti-intellectualism. By 'uncouth people', I mean people who (example) might casually toss litter into the street and not give it a second thought, etc.

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    How about snob, snobbish, or snobbery?
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 4:17
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    Why do you think that bigotry, uncouth, and disdain are not inherently pejorative?
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 4:33
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    Disdain and uncouth certainly are pejorative. I'm not worried about pejorative words occurring in my definition, I was just hoping for a non-pejorative word that fits that definition. Also, the idea I'm looking to convey is not so much that the person thinks they are better than others, but more that said others don't measure up to some subjective minimum degree of grace. (There is an implication that the one person does measure up to that standard; that's just not the focus of my desired connotation.) Perhaps snob is the best I can hope for (also: supercilious... but same shortfall.) Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 4:44
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    What about "elitist"?
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 4:51
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    I think I know what you mean: sort of "high basic standards." You sometimes hear talk of "baseline": "she has a really high baseline for acceptable behaviour." "She is disgusted by behaviour which is below her very high baseline."
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 4:53

4 Answers 4

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'Supercilious' is what you are looking for.

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  • I mentioned this one above, already, in a comment. I feel it has some short-comings for my needs... but I've not found anything better, so I'll accept your answer. Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 1:33
  • ... but I'll change my acceptance if something better comes along. :) Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 4:55
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    "Supercilious" is a character trait of the person being supercilious. It doesn't say anything about the object of the superciliousness. One could be supercilious about anything/anyone.
    – A E
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 10:29
  • Yes, and the supercilious regard others as their inferiors.
    – Ornello
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 13:33
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    You need to give more context, and yes, that's likely. Why are so many people on here asking for a single word that means X?
    – Ornello
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 1:59
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"Intellectual snobbery" pretty much fits the bill.

It's a pejorative term for prejudice against people or pursuits who/which are perceived (the implication is, wrongly perceived) as insufficiently intellectual.

An example of intellectual snobbery: A person prefers opera to comic books purely because opera is perceived as 'high art' and comic books are perceived as 'low art'. They find opera more intellectually respectable than comic books. That person is an intellectual snob; they are displaying intellectual snobbery.


Oh, you mean disdain for impoliteness? That's not "the converse of anti-intellectualism". Intellectuals can be plenty impolite (and often are - check your nearest academic listserv for examples).

If you want a word for 'excessive concern for politeness and decorum' then you could try 'fuddy-duddy' or 'prude' (although 'prude' can have the addition connotation that the excessive concern is specifically for sexual decorum).

If the person is excessively concerned about minor rules being broken then 'prig' might work, but it sounds pretty archaic now. The children in the E. Nesbit novels spend quite a bit of time calling one another 'prigs':

"The only thing is - don't you be a prig, that's all. You keep your eyes open and if you feel priggishness coming on just stop in time"

(The Railway Children, 1906)

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    Despite the pejorative aspect, that's a good fit for entertainment... but not for things like nose-picking in public, tossing litter into the street, etc. Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 1:30
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    Regarding your revised answer: (1) impoliteness is but one form of 'couthlessness' (er... sorry) (2) I don't think disdain for (ex) throwing trash in the street is an 'excessive concern', and (3) nor is it a minor rule (in the sense that it is a pretty clear indicator of character.) I absolutely love the word 'prig' for other literary reasons, but: all your suggestions seem inherently negative towards the person casting judgement, which was what I wanted to avoid for this instance. For the example behavior I gave (littering,) I believe indignation is warranted, and thus not antisocial. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 1:31
  • Well, if you want a word that means "bigotry against" uncouth people, it's going to be pejorative. Bigotry is never good! ;)
    – A E
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 13:34
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While not considered neutral, haughty tends to be one who disdains those below him.

I understand that the idea of superiority is not intended but it would be understood that disdain of bad manners would strongly imply a connection between bad manners and the people who would employ them.

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  • I believe you are right about that, SrJoven. Perhaps my requirements were unreasonable. Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 3:10
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'Smug' is also a possibility. It is worth considering at least.

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    Please feel free to edit your other answer to include this information, and perhaps explain how it answers the question.
    – SrJoven
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 22:28

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