What's a word that can be used to describe an author's portrayal of a scene as normal even though the content of what is described is innately disturbing/unnatural?

He cut open the dog's underbelly and we all took turns examining its insides, which were just as we had expected them to be. To get over the disappointment it was suggested we head out for drinks later, which I was forced to decline...

The writer's description of the scene is word.
The writer words the scene.
This disgusting scene is worded by the writer.

Earlier I was able to think specifically of the word, but now I can't even remember whether it was an adjective/verb, so sorry for being so open in my example usages, but hopefully this contains enough information for someone to propose something.

  • 3
    Something like "normalise", the writer manages to "normalise" the portrayal of dissection Sep 30, 2016 at 22:21
  • The closest I could come with is banal and banalize - cf. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eichmann_in_Jerusalem Sep 30, 2016 at 22:27
  • Endorsed / sanctioned / legitimised / condoned ... Sep 30, 2016 at 22:31
  • @EdwinAshworth not quite what I am aiming for, "endorsed" seems to connote that the writer supports the things portrayed, which is not necessarily the case; they have simply described something abnormal as normal. Sep 30, 2016 at 22:33
  • The writer's description of the scene is prosaic. Add an adverb, if desired: deliberately prosaic, surprisingly prosaic, shockingly prosaic, etc. Or phrase it as an adverb to begin with : the writer prosaically described the horrific scene.
    – 1006a
    Sep 30, 2016 at 22:47

8 Answers 8


Maybe detached? This has a connotation of emotional coldness or numbness

adj. impartial or objective; disinterested; unbiased; not involved or concerned; aloof.

It fits best with your first sentence:

The writer's description of the scene is detached.

I might also suggest something in the vein of nonchalant, which fits a bit better with more of your sentences.

adj. relaxed and calm in a way that shows that you do not care or are not worried about anything

The writer's decription of the scene is nonchalant.

The writer describes the scene nonchalantly.

  • I used nonchalant in my analysis to describe something similar, and agree it is a good choice. Detached, whilst almost conveying what I intend, doesn't quite cover that aspect of "normalisation" that I am after. Oct 1, 2016 at 18:17

You should consider trivial/trivialize (UK trivialise).

The writer's description of the scene is trivial.

The writer trivializes the scene.

This disgusting scene is trivialized by the writer.


trivial adjective

1 : commonplace, ordinary

Compared to her problems, our problems seem trivial.

trivialize transitive verb trivialized trivializing

: to make trivial : reduce to triviality

The news story trivialized the problem.


Since you explicitly mention that you don't know if it was a verb or an adjective I think you will fare best with makes the scene seem adjective or describes the scene as adjective. The reason is that the effect of a scene seeming normal in any given context is likely conveyed by the persons reacting unexcited and without the disgust the reader feels.

Just picking a few adjectives from the synonym list of commonplace here, ordinary, unremarkable, conventional, typical, everyday...

The writer makes the scene seem ordinary.

The writer's describes the scene as commonplace.

This disgusting scene is skilfully made to seem unremarkable.

This is on the assumption that the scene's sense of normalcy is brought forth by it being an everyday thing for the participating persons. If you are trying to describe a writer that wants the reader to think that the scene is normal in our world that would be different there is more likely a verb out there that fits that description because it's an Inception level fewer.



I'm sorry, but the definitions I read don't support this idea. Nevertheless, I think it works in the context. The context involves some sort of tension which can be neutralized -- the tension gets removed by the matter-of-fact treatment the author gives the material.


Dictionary.com gives

"3. extremely objective and realistic; dispassionately analytic; unemotionally critical"

The writer's description of the scene is clinical.

The writer neutralizes the scene.

This disgusting scene is dissected by the writer.

Dissected means the writer took apart the offensive details, removing the emotional effect.

  • "clinical" is very good. why do you have so many words in your answer Mar 14, 2021 at 13:03


: not influenced by strong feeling
especially : not affected by personal or emotional involvement




having or showing no emotion or intensity

Oxford Dictionary of English

  • No, this doesn't work. Your examples seem to suggest that a verb is required. unimpassioned is an adjective.
    – user405662
    Mar 14, 2021 at 14:31
  • @user405662 "I can't even remember whether it was an adjective/verb" Mar 14, 2021 at 18:43

Soft-pedal seems to work well in the provided context.

To make less emphatic or obvious; play down:

soft-pedal a potentially explosive issue

[American Heritage Dictionary]


How about regular / regularize?

From Dictionary.com:

regular: usual; normal

regularize: to make regular

The OP's examples:

The writer's description of the scene is regular.

The writer regularizes the scene.

This disgusting scene is regularized by the writer.

  • What's with the down votes? And your problem with this answer is ...? Oct 1, 2016 at 21:06
  • 1
    I don't know why it was so harshly downvoted, maybe another answerer got scared... but "regular" connotes patterns and being methodical to me more than it does some concept of normalcy, so I'm not sure how applicable it is in this case. Oct 1, 2016 at 23:34
  • @theonlygusti Thanks. Much appreciated. The definition indicates usual, normal. Oct 1, 2016 at 23:41
  • @RichardKayser, I have not downvoted; however, perhaps regular(ize) does not convey the intended meaning. Oct 2, 2016 at 8:05

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