1. Are self-abased and humble both opposite to arrogant or having attitude? What are their differences?
  2. What are words for the opposite to arrogant, respectively in a positive, negative, and neutral way?

Both self-abased and humble can be considered as antonyms for arrogant. The difference between them in this context being

Humble - Not showing arrogance in spite of knowing that one is good.

Self-abased - Not showing arrogance because he feels he is not good. (Inferiority complex, may be)

Some other antonyms for arrogant are

Modest - Positive

Shy - Neutral

Meek, Servile, timid - Negative

Of course, whether something is positive, negative or neutral will depend on the context it is spoken, people who are engaged in the conversation, how it is said etc. But I feel this can be considered as a broad classification.

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  • I think it's true that "self-abased" suggests a lower self-cofnidence than "humble." But "not showing arrogance in spite of knowing that one is good" sounds more like false humility than true humility to me. – senderle May 27 '11 at 16:57
  • I would say that shy is often (but not always) negative, although if you think of someone as shy then you're likely to have pity for them, rather than contempt. At the very least I think it's common for shy people to wish they were less so. Contrast with antonyms for shy: bold or assertive, which are often (but not always) positive (unlike arrogant, which is negative). – John Bartholomew May 27 '11 at 17:53
  • @John Bartholomew, just for the sake of discourse, do you think 'shy' could be put opposite 'promiscuous', making it positive? – Karl May 27 '11 at 19:43
  • @John and @Karl, Shyness is considered a positive trait in girls in some cultures. – rest_day May 27 '11 at 20:31
  • @Karl: Actually, I wouldn't put shy opposite promiscuous; to me, promiscuity is most importantly about choice or acceptance (not having any misgivings about having many shallow sexual relationships). Someone who is shy might be practically prevented from being promiscuous because they find it difficult to form relationships (sexual or otherwise) so quickly, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't want to. – John Bartholomew May 27 '11 at 21:50

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