It seems rather odd that there is a verb for wanting something, but not for the opposite, as it means we always have to phrase things in terms of wanting.

For instance there's an opposite of having with lacking, finding with losing and creating with destroying, but why not with wanting?

When I say "I don't want to go there" I may want it to be understood that either I have no desire to go there but also don't have a desire to not go there; it's not something I'm too bothered about or that I desire to not go there, but it's ambiguous. You can obviously tell in the context, but it'd be useful to have a verb that doesn't rely on context and I can't think of one.

I've considered eschew and refuse, but they're not suitable.

Can anyone tell me?

EDIT: Just to clarify, I'm looking for a word that only means the exact opposite of wanting. I'm not looking for a word that means both indifferent and to not want. I want a word that specifically means to not want something, but stronger than just saying

I don't want

As this is ambiguous as it also refers to a state of indifference.

  • 2
    It wouldn't seem odd to me if such a verb turns out not to exist, considering that there are a lot of opposites that don't have single words (and a lot of other concepts as well). There is no opposite verb that I know of for "exist," "think," or "fear." There is no single verb I know of for "to feel ashamed." – sumelic Mar 30 '16 at 16:37
  • @sumelic I was about to point out that this is the norm (lack of verb to express lack of rather than opposite end of spectrum where there is one, eg love ... not love ... hate), but you've done it. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 30 '16 at 19:39
  • Seems you are looking for word X, where the desirability spectrum goes from X -> indifferent -> want. In other words, a word that expresses the attitude of "not want" and specifically excludes the possibility of indifferent. If that is the case, perhaps avoid is the word you are seeking: avoid -> indifferent -> want. – amdn Mar 31 '16 at 7:29
  • The colloquial 'want shut of' is used to show that one has something that one wants to be rid of. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 5 '16 at 16:08
  • 'Want shut off' is definitely congruent with the intended meaning, but think that what sumelic says is probably true; that there is no single word that denotes 'to not want'. For words like exist, states which are binary, i can understand there lacking an opposite word, since the meaning of 'not exist' is unambiguous, whereas the meaning of 'not wanting' is context dependent. I'm sure there's something interesting and deeper in the roots of how we think that means there is no word for 'not wanting'. I just wanted to be sure that there definitely was no word. Thanks for your help. – Christs_Chin Apr 8 '16 at 9:41

The underlying difference between wanting and your other possibilities is that the others, describing active operations, are clearly 2-valued. "Wanting", on the other hand, describes a mental state which can inhabit a continuum, ranging from desiring a thing or consequence, to rejecting a thing or consequence, with a neutral state being part of the continuum. The neutral state, or "don't-care" is an important possibility in any discussion of desire, so it should not be overlooked.

As a result, there is no particular reason to expect that a single word will encompass both the neutral and the negative. The simple negation ("I don't want") is generally adequate to express the lack of wanting, and if the exact form of not wanting is important, then the choices such as "I don't care" or "I really don't want" can be used.

  • Thanks for the reply. I've edited the question to make what is required clearer. I'm not looking for a single word that will encompass both the neutral and the negative. I want a single word that only means the negative. I want it to explicitly exclude the state of passive indifference and communicate active aversion. – Christs_Chin Apr 8 '16 at 9:37

I suggest indifference: lack of interest in or concern about something; an indifferent attitude or feeling.

In your example:

"I am indifferent about going there."

  • Not to be nitpicky, but indifferent pairs with differentiate. Its function is to say "I see no difference between the choices". Which places indifferent as the neutral point between want therefore is the answer to 1 part of the question he's looking for. [Want]--[Indifferent]--[OppositeOfWant] – H.R.Rambler Mar 30 '16 at 12:59
  • Exactly H.R.Rambler. I'm looking for a word that denotes the opposite end of the spectrum of want specifically. I don't want 'indifferent', although it acts as further justification to the requirement to have a want-antonym, given that there exists the affirmative and neutral versions of 'wanting'. – Christs_Chin Mar 30 '16 at 13:45

The opposite pairing of wanting is loath.

But the word feels archaic (notice how easily the forms of want fit into a sentence, but the "am loath" usage is cumbersome); and it is so easily misconstrued with "loathe" which makes the step from simple "do not want" to hatred. With these obstacles to using loath, it is often just easier to add a word to negate wanting or to shift the lexical perspective into something like "inclined vs. disinclined".

  • The question is asking for a verb and a single word. Isn't "loath" an adjective? To make it into a verb, you have to add more words, such as "be loath to." – sumelic Mar 30 '16 at 16:39
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    @sumelic Still an adjective. The verb is loathe. And it's not the opposite of want. I don't want carrots for dinner, but I don't loathe them. – deadrat Mar 30 '16 at 18:33

It sounds like you're looking for at least two verbs (maybe three); you need one that is the opposite of "want" on the continuum of desire (e.g. loathe) and other that is apathetic (sort of in the middle or off the continuum altogether), and maybe even another that is technically ambivalent (points scattered along the continuum).

I don't want (eschew) to waste more of your time on this non-response, but don't want (I sort of don't but, meh, it doesn't bother me and I need to so I will) to go back to work either.

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