In the article of Time magazine (May 17) dealing with the arrest of IMF Chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn on alleged charges of assaulting a hotel housekeeper, under the title of “The Seduction myth: What the French still don't get about sex,’ I found the word, ‘Unseductive behavior.”

The meaning of this word is easily imaginable, and it’s no wonder to have “Unseductive” as the derivative from “Seductive.”. But strangely enough, I couldn’t find entry of the word, “Unseductive” in any of Japanese English dictionaries at hand, nor in other dictionaries including Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary, Merriam Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary online and other online dictionaries.

Is the word “Unseductive” well-received English word or just coined by the author.

The word appeared in the following sentence:

“The arrest of the "great seducer," as Strauss-Kahn is commonly known in France — on shocking charges of notably unseductive behavior toward an immigrant single mother working as a hotel housekeeper — didn't come entirely out of the blue for those who have closely observed his behavior toward women over the years.”

  • I think the basic answer here is "No". Unseductive is not in common use in English and you will probably get a funny look if you use it.
    – Kevin
    May 18, 2011 at 19:48
  • 1
    There's coining a new word, and then there's just using productive affixes to create a word that has never been uttered before but is morphologically correct. For example 'neologistically' sounds OK, should not be considered a coinage, but I doubt has ever appeared in this world up to now. Oh...sorry, that word is listed on the internet...how about 'counterinterdependency' (or should it be 'contrainterdependency')?
    – Mitch
    May 24, 2011 at 19:24

2 Answers 2


The Oxford English Dictionary has two quotations using it in the entry on the prefix "un-":

"Nor upon that event did he think it necessary to fly the roof of two such unseductive innocent females as Mrs. Horton and her niece." -- E. Inchbald, Simple Story I. ii. 12, 1791

And the second:

"He looked at her neat unseductive clothes and thanked God she was like that." -- M. Borden, Black Virgin, ii. 26, 1937

So it's not unheard of, and definitely wasn't coined by the writer at Time. It's just rare.

  • Thank you. It was lucky for you (and for me) to be able to find the actual usage of ‘Unseductive.’ I checked up Oxford American Dictionary (1980), Webster’s New World Basic Dictionary of American English (1998), Concise Oxford Dictionary 10th Ed, and Oxford Dictionary of New Words (1998) at hand. None of those carry ‘Unseductive.’ By the way, Windows Spell Checker keeps showing ‘Unseductive’ in red when I’m typing it in now. May 18, 2011 at 8:24
  • @Yoichi Oishi, searching books.google.com is rather useful in these cases
    – Unreason
    May 18, 2011 at 9:59

As Will points out it is just rare, and in google's book corpus it appears since 1800s - see Books Ngram Viewer for unseductive.

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  • Oo, nifty chart. May 18, 2011 at 8:05
  • Unfortunately it does not really show how rare the word is (the scale and values are pretty meaningless without comparison and if you do compare it is really hard to find the word as rare - for example ngrams.googlelabs.com/… )
    – Unreason
    May 18, 2011 at 8:38
  • If you compare unseductive to seductive, you find that unseductive is used MUCH less frequently.
    – Kevin
    May 18, 2011 at 14:40
  • @Kevin, yes, to the point that you will almost not even see it on the chart. ngrams.googlelabs.com/…
    – Unreason
    May 18, 2011 at 15:34
  • True, the number is meaningful only in compaison. The chart showing use trends of Seductive and Unseductive is really interesting. It is also true what Will Martin said that 'Unseductive' is rarely used today, but not coined by the Time author. May 18, 2011 at 20:26

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