What word, if any, best completes the analogy?

Example usage (feel free to fiddle with this context/setting as desired):

Behavior was unbecoming of all participants in last night's prime-time [Presidential] debate.
Neither candidate appeared presidential, nor did the moderator appear ___.

Edit to add second use, more meta:

The US election season will soon include Presidential debates (that might be describable by the sentences above). The English Language and Usage Stack Exchange is also holding an election for community moderators. If candidates in that election were to have a debate, it would not be a Presidential debate but a ____ debate.

Also, "governor" is to "gubernatorial" in the same way as the other pairs in this analogy.

  • 3
    One small difference on why you may be having difficulty. The candidates are being described as "presidential". Also, President is a title, so we also have words like Kingly, Lordly, etc. Would you say an operator looked "operatorial"? You may need a more generic word.
    – Skooba
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 15:09
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    There is a subtle distinction here. What is it about 'presidential', as related to 'president', that you want? Having the external qualities of a president? Or the literal duties or essence of being a president? For the latter, the literal adjective would be 'moderate' (encouraging moderation in others). for the former, no word with the root 'moderate' seems to fit.
    – Mitch
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 21:35

8 Answers 8


It's moderatorial, but consider the usage note.

Moderatorial (Chiefly Christian Church) adjective Of, relating to, or characteristic of a moderator or chairman. - ODO

Here are some usage examples drawn from the internet:

  • This is a moderatorial note that there appears to be somewhat of a 'personal' edge appearing in these discussions and that could easily lead to us locking this thread. - scruffyduck, fsdeveloper.com

  • Not very moderatorial of me, I admit...but then a fella's gotta let his beard down sometime, right? - Chris Fitzgerals, talkbass.com

There's also the term moderatorly, but it doesn't appear in any of the dictionaries supported by OneLook. It also doesn't show up in Ngram's database. Here are some usage examples:

  • Moderatorly admonition: don't just post a link - CraigD, scienceforums.com

  • And if you think you have it tough, consider me, as I get emails about everything and some double when it pertains posts I made: I will get the moderation PM and email and I will get an email because I am the moderator. I get emails about everything I moderatorly do on the forums. - Ageless, boinc.berkeley.edu

  • 7
    My issue with this word is that it is fairly archaic, and only has a religious or political significance and use. Medial is a much broader term, and speaks to the primary definition of moderator.
    – user191160
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 16:43
  • @user191160 There is also moderatorly as an analogue to kingly. It has some usage support (Google), but no dictionary support. It's also doesn't show up in Ngram's database. I prefer moderate to medial. Moderators do more than enforce the middle line. Also, medial doesn't have the same feel as an analogue to the OP's presidential.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 17:26
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    Well it ultimately hinges upon which definition of moderate one uses.
    – user191160
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 17:27
  • Even in the narrow field where it's used, does this have a "possessing qualities befitting a moderator" meaning like 'presidential' does with 'President?'
    – reirab
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 5:46
  • 1
    @cat Thank you. The link referenced the quote rather than the URL, my mistake. Fixed now.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 1:34

It's not a logical pair, but neutral or its synonym impartial fit nicely in your sentence.


Presidential is what you expect from a president, but from the moderator you expect him/her not to take sides.

  • 9
    Similarly, objective.
    – talrnu
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 19:48
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    What you expect from a moderator may be different from what I expect. Indeed, being neutral doesn't necessarily mean you are like a moderator.
    – Jodrell
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 8:19
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    A moderator's neutrality is probably necessary (for a good one), but that is insufficient. Someone presidential has some distilled quality of specifically being like a president; someone neutral may be 99% the opposite of a moderator (for example, doing nothing instead of actually moderating). Moderator:neutral :: President:natural-born is a closer comparison (given the US rules for president, as an example). Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 20:01

Why not "moderate"? (I mean the adjective, not the verb.) It doesn't precisely fit the analogy, in the sense that "moderate" does not mean, "like a moderator". On the other hand, it completes the sentence in a very satisfying manner.

  • While it completes the sentence grammatically, this really doesn't answer the spirit of the question. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 15:36
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    I disagree. If I'm criticizing a debate, and I want to say the behavior of the moderator was "unbecoming", then saying he or she was immoderate seems like a fine way to do so. We expect moderators to be moderate in their tone. Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 15:37
  • I thought about posting "moderate" as a potential answer, but didn't think it would likely be a best fit. +1; this answer should not have a negative score!
    – WBT
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 17:58
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    @GTonyJacobs Yes, an immoderate moderator is "unbecoming" of a moderator, but there are other ways of a moderator not being "moderator-like" than simply being immoderate. For example, if they seemed bored, or flippant, or simply didn't have enough gravitas. They could be "not moderator-like" while still maintaining a "moderate" tone (i.e. between extremes of position).
    – R.M.
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 18:41
  • 2
    Maud the immoderate moderator moderated the modern model motors modellers meeting moderately immoderately Monday morning.
    – Dronz
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 22:47

Lawrence's suggestion of moderatorial answers the fundamental question, but I'd like to suggest a more general approach: be more specific about the moderator's behavior.

I can gather that moderatorial means like a moderator, but what does that really tell me? What does like a moderator actually mean?

Was the moderator favoring one candidate over the other? Were they jumping in and offering their own opinions? Were they dressed up like a dinosaur? Did they fail to control the crowd? Something else entirely?

In any case, there are more specific words for any of the above. Consider using them instead.

This might not be very satisfying for your original question, but maybe it'll help somebody in a similar situation in the future.


The difficulty in this case is that the word "moderator" describes a person based on what they are doing, whereas the word "president" is used strictly as a role title. You can say "Elena moderated the debate" but you can't say "Elena presidented the country", or even "Elena presided the country".

For these words to be directly comparable, you'd have to be able to change the suffix, '-tor', to a suffix '-ent'. But the words 'moderatent' or 'moderatant' don't exist.

Therefore it is better to use a word that describes a skill, such as adept. In particular, while a moderator is expected to be moderate, impartial or fair, they are also expected to be clear, have insightful questions and keep the debate interesting. In this capacity they act to the debate as an engine regulator would to the combustion cycle: ensuring it is neither too fast nor too slow.

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    A president presides, no? Also, the "engine regulator" you described is a governor.
    – WBT
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 3:09
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    A presider presides. While the word has the same root, you still can not "president a thing". Nice link on the governor, btw. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 3:23
  • @NathanielFord You can't "moderator a thing" either, so that's a false comparison. You're not wrong, but you're making the wrong argument.
    – Era
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 19:35
  • @Era I hear what you're saying, and tried to clarify the response itself. I'd be happy to hear a better way to phrase this argument - I admit I'm not enough of a word geek to know how to classify these different types of words. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 19:43

A moderator job is basically to be in control of the debate (the controller if you will). So in that case I think "nor did the moderator appear to be in control." Ultimately I think you should dig deeper to determine what the moderator wasn't doing that they should have been doing and that will uncover what you're really trying to say.


This is the closest I am able to conjure.

Medial: Situated in or pertaining to the middle; median; intermediate.

A moderator and a mediator are two similar forms of facilitator, and both tend to oversee at least two parties. Not to mention, the definition of moderator places it as a synonym to mediator.

Moderator: An arbitrator or mediator.

Oxford American College Dictionary.


Since the moderator presides over the debate...

"Neither candidate appeared Presidential, nor did the moderator appear presidential".

Separate from President with a capital P, "the highest executive officer of a modern republic"

It sounds horrible, but it fits so well.


Neither candidate appeared Presidential, nor did the moderator appear to moderate.

  • With the candidates we are concerned with their appearance and presentation for a future Presidency, with the moderator we are concerned with their behaviour during the debate. did not appear to moderate , using a verb, speaks to their inaction and lack of control over the debate.

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