I am a non-native English learner. And when I was looking up the word easy-going in dictionaries, the explanations really confused me. Is the word easy-going positive or negative? Some dictionaries say it means lax, negligent or careless, while some say it means not easily annoyed, worried or upset.

Which is correct? Do you think this word means a good quality or approval. Does it mean that the meaning of the word easy-going differs depending on the context, or it's a difference between British and American English

[American Heritage Dictionary]

adj. 1.

a. Living without undue worry or concern; calm.

b. Lax or negligent; careless.

c. Relaxed or informal in attitude or standards:an easygoing teacher who allowed extra time for assignments.

[Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

a : relaxed and casual in style or manner: an easygoing boss

b : morally lax

[Collins English Dictionary]

If you describe someone as easy-going, you mean that they are not easily annoyed, worried, or upset, and you think this is a good quality. [approval]

[Chambers Dictionary]

adj. not strict; relaxed, tolerant or placid.

  • Why did you leave out the primary definition from AHD? a. Living without undue worry or concern; calm. This is misleading information for users and visitors alike.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 9, 2016 at 11:51
  • I think what really confused me is just definition 1.b&c from AHD ,so I don't pay too much attention to definition 1.a...I'm quite sorry and thanks for your advice.
    – Z.Cheng
    Jan 9, 2016 at 12:27

1 Answer 1


The word easygoing is positive, not negative, in both American and British English. An easygoing person is someone who is liked.

Oxford Dictionaries Online has a good definition:

Relaxed and tolerant in approach or manner.


relaxed, even-tempered, placid, mellow, mild, happy-go-lucky, carefree, free and easy, nonchalant, insouciant, imperturbable, amiable, considerate, undemanding, patient, tolerant, lenient, broad-minded, understanding, good-natured, pleasant, agreeable, laid-back, unflappable, Type-B, low-maintenance

The American Heritage Dictionary definition that you posted which states the word is synonymous with negligent and careless is not quite correct. Negligent and careless are negative, but easygoing is positive. It would be wrong to replace negligent and careless with easygoing in a sentence. For example, the following sentence does not make any sense:

She had been easygoing and had left the door unlocked.

  • Thanks for your answer! But I think the definition“1.b : morally lax”from Merriam-Webster Dictionary is also a little negative,does it make sense?
    – Z.Cheng
    Jan 9, 2016 at 12:42
  • Yes, "morally lax" is negative. I cannot explain why Merriam-Webster and American Heritage have these peculiar definitions.
    – Kyle
    Jan 9, 2016 at 16:42

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