I'm looking for a single word which describes something that is not pleasant but is necessary. Moreover, there are no comparable alternatives for that.

Something like a delightful pain.

  • 3
    A necessary evil: something that you do not like but which you know must exist or happen.idioms.thefreedictionary.com/a+necessary+evil
    – user66974
    May 14 '15 at 14:19
  • 1
    Perhaps consider obligatory. Not sure if it implies "without pleasure", but definitely necessity.
    – ebwb
    May 14 '15 at 14:20
  • @Josh61, Seems interesting!
    – Eilia
    May 14 '15 at 14:20
  • 2
    @ermanen I wish the OP would include other examples, but I think this question is a little more nuanced. The title doesn't describe something that is evil or hateful, only possibly unpleasant. Same reason I don't think "necessary evil" is the right answer. The question may not have enough info to answer well, but I don't think it's a duplicate.
    – ebwb
    May 14 '15 at 16:31
  • 1
    @Waterbagel: Thanks for the explanation but the nuance is not clear. It is still duplicate in my opinion. If people disagree, they can re-open. I can re-open also if OP explains why it is not a duplicate and give more details.
    – 0..
    May 14 '15 at 16:36

Again, the title and post do not ask for the same thing.

A necessary evil works for an unpleasant need [Cambridge]

something unpleasant that must be accepted in order to achieve a particular result

Most Americans accept taxes as a necessary evil.

A "delightful pain" (which, imo, isn't the same thing) is better expressed in the immortal words of Shakespeare:

Parting is such a sweet sorrow.


Single words like taxes are obligatory/inescapable/unavoidable don't really capture the 'not pleasant' part, because things can be obligatory without being particularly unpleasant.


If you would consider a two-word phrase instead of a single word than maybe you could use:

bitter pill:

a bitter pill (to swallow)

An unpleasant or painful necessity (to accept). (ODO)

Side note: I've checked an on-line thesaurus for synonyms and it gave these:

bad part; bitter cup; bummer; downer; downside; wormwood

but I don't think any of these would work. Bitter cup in Google Books gives results either for coffee or tea, or for religious texts; bummer, downer and wormwood don't include necessity; downside and bad part cover only a bad aspect of an option.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.