I'm writing an essay and am wondering whether the following sentence is correct: "I investigate the tension between self-interest and other-regardingness."

Is other-regardingness a word? On the one hand it's in the Oxford dictionary. On the other Chrome gives me an error, and when I search Google for "define other-regardingness" the only dictionary definition that comes up is Oxford's.

(And if it exists, are there any synonyms, just in case some people aren't familiar with it?)

  • It seems correct in that its wordness is corroborated, but that doesn't mean that someone can't knock a mark off for style. These Google Ngrams (altruism,other-regardingness) could be used to justify a judgement of lack of idiomaticity. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 3 '17 at 0:19
  • Wow, that's amazing, thanks for introducing me to Google Ngrams! – wwl Jun 3 '17 at 0:22
  • 2
    They're useful, but must be used with care, as, for example, that,that will pick up things like 'Give me that! That was very naughty!' – Edwin Ashworth Jun 3 '17 at 0:25
  • "Thoughtful", "considerate", and "kind" are near synonyms that are less academic jargon and more natural language. "Considerate," in particular, refers to considering others. – The Nate Jun 9 '17 at 5:28

Yes, it is a word. Oxford is about as reliable as you can get. I agree with Edwin that people may knock it for its awkwardness. For what it is worth, I looked up the word in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and it has


n. regard for others; altruism.

1894 United Presb. Mag. 11 310 That all morality is summed up in altruism—other-regardingness or love.

1958 Times Lit. Suppl. 31 Jan. 54/5 Reason, objectivity, tolerance, charity, other-regardingness—these are not natural gifts of men.

1992 Amer. Jrnl. Polit. Sci. 36 753 That degree of other-regardingness that would come to be called ‘self-interest properly understood’.

That it has been used felicitously as late as 1992, in American Journal of Political Science, shows that it is alive. However, a One Look Dictionary search did not even return the Oxford use that you found.

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