I once came across a word that described how easy it was to guess how to use something without knowing what it was for.

The context was a blog post about a specific country, where the doors were either brightly decorated or painted in the same design as the rest of the room / wall paper.

They were often missing (traditional? western?) door handles, which meant that the visitor often did not know that they were actually doors or how to use them.

This was given as an example of something with low [missing word].

The rest of the post was about computer user interfaces (UI) or the user experience (UX) but I believe the word I'm looking for was a more general English word.

Update: Affordance serves my purpose for the missing word described above.

  • @Mari-LouA Ahead of you there. – Spencer Apr 10 '17 at 10:45

The word you're looking for is intuitive.


1d: readily learned or understood: software with an intuitive interface

However, since the British dictionaries I searched didn't contain this usage, I suspect that this word is used in this particular way primarily in American English.

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  • I think the relevant sense is essentially as per definition A3a in the full subscription-only OED: Of knowledge or mental perception: That consists in immediate apprehension, without the intervention of any reasoning process (for which their most recent definition is 1849, so it's hardly likely to mention computer user interfaces). But the cut-down open-access version at oxforddictionaries has definition 1.1 (chiefly of computer software) easy to use and understand. It's certainly not "primarily American English". – FumbleFingers Apr 10 '17 at 12:03
  • @Fumblefingers We all know how comprehensive and hip Oxford tries to be. Cambridge and a couple of others only had the 1849 sense, which was connoted to mean offhand or unscientific. – Spencer Apr 10 '17 at 13:04
  • I don't know what you're getting at in that comment, but I really think it's ludicrous to suggest that intuitive has different meanings in BrE and AmE. It just so happens that the canonical / primary example for the modern "nuance" (WIMP Operating Systems such as MS Windows) originated in the US, so AmE texts have been more likely to use it earlier, while it was gaining traction. – FumbleFingers Apr 10 '17 at 13:41
  • Thanks for the answer and comments. I was looking for something closer to affordance (Merriam-webster, oxforddictionaries), which I found by searching around "intuitive". – Richard Spiers Apr 10 '17 at 14:33

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