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Does the verb "omit" imply intent? If, for example, I write that the authors of a book "omit details of research that are problematic to their argument" is the implication that they did so intentionally (i.e., willfully)? If so, is there a word that means to "leave out" but does not necessarily imply intent?

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    your sentence certainly implies that this was done willfully, but the word "omit" in a neutral context doesn't have any implications.
    – DAE
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 6:36
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    – Helmar
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 7:40
  • The word "omit" does not imply intent. Saying "XXX was accidentally omitted" would be quite idiomatic.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 12:18

2 Answers 2

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The word omit doesn't carry the implication that something was left out intentionally.

Omit verb 1 Leave out or exclude (someone or something), either intentionally or forgetfully - ODO

The definition allows for omissions to be unintentional, and common usage supports this.

For example, consider the term E&OE seen in many contracts. The O stands for omissions. The term is deliberately used to excuse oversights.

E&OE Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE1) is a phrase used in an attempt to reduce legal liability for potentially incorrect or incomplete information supplied in a contractually related document such as a quotation or specification. - wikipedia

When used in a context that is biased towards interpreting omissions as intentional, single-word terms like omit, exclude and avoid all succumb to the same bias. The same is true for terms that are not explicitly negated, such as leave out.

Explicitly negated forms such as did not include avoid the bias to some extent:

  • The authors did not include details of research that are problematic to their argument.

Nevertheless, the bias is inherent in the suspicions raised by the term "problematic to their argument". Unless you say explicitly that the omission was unintentional, your claim can always be read as implying intentional omission. To make it explicit, however, is not neutral - it is actively denying that the omission was intentional.

We can discuss equivocal phrases such as may have unintentionally left out, but this strays even further from your request for a neutral word.

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As the other responder claimed, it does not. but I would like to add one thing: in the context of what you are saying, "omit" might imply intent. You stated, "omit details of research that are problematic to their argument." Did those people omit details of the very research that they used to support their argument, assuming that those details deflate the strength of their argument? If so, then the reader may construe that as intentional. Or did the people at issue omit details of their own research, assuming that the details deflate the strength of their argument? A reader may also construe that as intentional. In the context of an argument supported by research findings, omitting details harmful to one's argument will usually be construed as intentional.

If you are looking for a way to mention the possibility of an honest mistake, I would add another sentence, such as, "omit details of research that are problematic to their argument. Whether done intentionally or accidentally, the fact remains: their research does not fully illustrate the issue."

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