I need a verb to express the sense that a person did not do something, but without suggesting that he tried and did not succeed (so not "failed"), or that he had a list of things to do and missed one out, or that he otherwise intended to do it but forgot (so not "omitted"). The point of view needs to be objective.

It could go for example in the following sentence:

"He ____ to show any of the signs of genuine amusement, such as eye wrinkles".

  • 1
    You could invert any instead - He showed no signs of .... – Lawrence Nov 26 '17 at 14:25
  • Would "Neglected" work? – Rob_Ster Nov 26 '17 at 14:37
  • Is there a reason why did not won't work? Also, why do you think failed always means "tried and failed"? In your example I would not read it that way; the most loaded interpretation there might be more along the lines of "did not meet my expectation that" but it could also read completely neutral depending on surrounding context. – 1006a Nov 26 '17 at 15:37
  • @Lawrence - Personally I like your solution best. Could you make it an answer so I can upvote it? – aparente001 Nov 26 '17 at 17:29
  • How about something of the form "He refrained from showing..."? – user888379 Nov 26 '17 at 22:06

You require that the point of view should be 'objective' in which case the objective observer is unable to comment on any motive within the person, or even lack of motive.

As far as I can see, you need to express your sentence passively and objectively.

'Not a sign of genuine amusement did he show [...].'


(Comment converted to answer upon request.)

Any word in the blank would tend to emphasise the absence of showing signs (of genuine amusement) - this also tends to colour the omission.

Since you want to downplay the omitting and concentrate on what was omitted, try inverting the word any instead:

  • He showed no signs of genuine amusement, such as eye wrinkles.

I've run into this type of issue before. When I can't locate the correct word, sometimes convert the sentence to be more active, like this:

"Showing no signs of genuine amusement, eye wrinkles or upturned corner to his lips, he slowly did the thing..."

Does this help? Good luck in your quest!

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