I'm used to "pseudo" in academic contexts, where the word/prefix has no connotation at all. It essentially means "not genuine":
I was about to use the word in normal conversation, but I wondered about its connotation outside of academia. I'm glad I withheld, because it seems to be quite negative upon first glance! A quick google for "pseudo" gives plenty of synonyms:
bogus, sham, phony, artificial, mock, ersatz, quasi-, fake, false, spurious, deceptive, misleading, assumed, contrived, affected, insincere;
Those vary from neutral to negative in connotation. Oxford's definition and examples are neutral to negative as well:
1. Not genuine; sham
2. informal Pretentious or insincere
But that "definition" is one of many I found that is little more than a list of synonyms, and synonyms don't necessary imply connotation. Does colloquial use of "pseudo" inherently carry negative connotation? Or is it context-dependent like in academia?
Colloquially, when used with certain nouns, a negative connotation is obvious. For instance, calling someone "pseudo intellectual," accuses them of only pretending to be intelligent, which implies that they are not actually intelligent.
A positive connotation seems possible, but if the answer to my question is affirmative, then I'm just misusing the word. Say I have a friend who's claiming laziness despite actual hard work and success. I could say to him, "you're only being pseudo incompetent, quit downplaying your achievements!" That sounds strictly positive, but I might just be misusing the word.