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I'm looking for a word that I can use in my writings to describe a bar / pub that doesn't look like it would be a 'rough' place, i.e. one that isn't likely to instigate trouble. I was thinking of the word self-effacing but I think maybe that would be more descriptive of a person rather than a building. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Example usage would be:

"Maybe I'll go in here. It seems _______ enough."

Thank you!

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Mar 2 at 1:56

20 Answers 20

44

Decent

Maybe I'll go in here. It seems decent enough.

"It seems decent enough"--11,000 Google results referring to various places and things, tangible and intangible, with more than one applicable meaning (see link above to ODO).

Locally, a fairly decent place would be used to describe a place that is somewhat modest but appropriate, i.e., fairly clean, moral, safe, etc. (US, SE Region).

As an alternative--low-key--a more youthful, less judgmental word, I think.

  • 1
    But "It seems decent enough" as a phrase also means "not great" or "not bad" in normal usage so not really good in that specific phrase. – Aaron Harun Feb 28 at 11:01
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    @AaronHarun, the British English habit of downplaying everything means that saying something/someone is "decent" is actually a moderate level complement. This may be different for US English and others though – Kyyshak Feb 28 at 14:57
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    I covered that in my comment, "decent enough" is talking about the quality of the place, not the likelihood that you will be an unwilling participant in a bar fight. – Aaron Harun Mar 1 at 16:31
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    This is a good one, since it implies a base assumption of bedraggledness which has been disproven. – Harper Mar 1 at 22:16
24

I am going to suggest

pleasant
ADJECTIVE
1 Giving a sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment.

‘a very pleasant evening’
1.1 (of a person or their manner) friendly and considerate; likeable.
‘they found him pleasant and cooperative’

oxford dict

"Maybe I'll go in here. It seems pleasant enough."

This would be said after having walked past a few places that were completely unsuitable, and you are now getting a bit beyond caring about finding the perfect place.


EDIT: I had originally said pleasant was damning with faint praise but after a comment and a v. quick google I can find nobody who backs me up.

But pleasant is a very low level compliment. It comes far below exciting, great, fun, entertaining, fabulous, awesome.

Mum: "how was the afternoon at grandmas?" Teenager: "It was pleasant enough"

Means that it wasn't awful, you didn't spend the entire afternoon looking at your watch waiting for it to end. Some of it was even enjoyable.

(ok honestly a teenager would never say this but it was just to give an extra sense of the way the word would be said)

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    This was my choice and it's a fairly common word to use referring to an unknown cafe/pub/whatever. I don't think it's faint praise really. I think pleasant is at least as positive as 'good' but it has a different connotation. Pleasant implies quiet, nice, civilised, a lot of words already offered as answers. So probably not used to refer to a nightclub but perfect for a tea shop. When William Blake referred to England as a green and pleasant land I don't think it was intended as faint praise and while it's 200 years old and language drifts it still seems like a popular and patriotic term. – Eric Nolan Feb 27 at 17:15
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    @EricNolan to me it feels equal to "nice", it wasn't lovely, fantastic, brilliant it was pleasant, "how was the afternoon?" "it was pleasant enough" – WendyG Feb 27 at 17:28
  • @EricNolan but nobody on the internet seems to back me up on this – WendyG Feb 27 at 17:32
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    Adding 'enough' weakens the adjective a little too. I think you are being a little too hard on pleasant expecting it to equate with superlatives like great, fantastic, fabulous etc. It is certainly less than those. However 'rough' is also not a very extreme description, not compared to 'hell hole', 'dangerous', 'nightmare', etc. Obviously this is not a critical issue, I just felt the need to defend the less than awesome. It seems that often a thing has to be great and anything less than that means it sucks. There is a place for nice and pleasant as genuine, if inexuberant, praise. – Eric Nolan Feb 27 at 17:57
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    @EricNolan it is the pairing with "enough", it moves the meaning to the very bottom possible meaning of the word, it was good vs it was good enough. – WendyG Feb 27 at 21:39
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When the speaker uses the word "rough", are they thinking of a place where they see a risk that they'd get into trouble? Then perhaps an appropriate word is safe.

23

If you are looking for something that contrasts with rough or wild, I would use tame:

: reduced from a state of native wildness especially so as to be tractable and useful to humans : DOMESTICATED
// tame animals 2 : made docile and submissive : SUBDUED


If you really want something that describes only the outward appearance and not the people inside, then there are words like nondescript, bland, and neutral. Or possibly classy or upscale, if you are putting a value judgment on appearance.

But, then, I wouldn't say that rough describes only outward appearance either. Instead, I would use something like garish to describe the outward appearance. (Otherwise, smooth is the antonym of rough in its purely descriptive sense—when it comes only to the building's physical appearance.)

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    Thanks for the suggestions. Actually, in the next scene he comments that the bar looks 'classier than the outside' so perhaps nondescript or bland would be a better option in this case. – Michael Emerson Feb 27 at 14:44
20

Civilized.

From Merriam-Webster:

characteristic of a state of civilization especially: characterized by taste, refinement, or restraint

This carries exactly the connotation you desire, indicating the place lacks the ill manner and danger of a "rough" bar, and instead it exudes a more peaceable mood.

Used in your example sentence where it's qualified by "enough," it carries a tone of dissatisfaction, implying the place doesn't really live up to the speaker's standards, but they will accept it anyway. Some listeners may perceive this as haughty if their standards are lower. But since your example sentence already includes "enough," that appears to be the impression you intended to leave.

"Maybe I'll go in here. It seems civilized enough."

This evaluation can easily be made by looking on from the outside, as the building's structure and decoration will give an onlooker an impression of the establishment's intended atmosphere.


Credits: I actually though of this on my own, but I'd be remiss if I didn't credit the two comments already mentioning this word:

The first by Eric Nolan
The second by Arluin

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    I agree that from the casual nature of the OP's sentence I think this is the most appropriate word to use. – John Go-Soco Mar 1 at 8:24
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Innocuous would be my pick, as in:

Some mushrooms look innocuous but are in fact poisonous.
[Source: Cambridge Dictionary]

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  • 2
    (This would be improved I think by adding the definition to the Answer itself.) – BruceWayne Feb 28 at 16:57
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I’d go with “respectable” or “harmless” enough to indicate it’s higher on the safe scale. “Friendly” is better to describe a place that has a good chance of a positive personal interaction rather than a safe environment.

5

I would go with genteel or gentrified (derived).

From Merriam-Webster:

: maintaining or striving to maintain the appearance of superior or middle-class social status or respectability

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  • The definition fits, but the word itself doesn't seem like a good fit in this context. – J.R. Mar 1 at 15:20
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"friendly" can be used to describe places and things as well as people. Some dictionaries I've seen give "a friendly greeting" as examples, so I've compared greeting, place and person on Google NGram.

I'm guessing when people say "a friendly place" they implicitly mean a safe environment where they wouldn't feel anything threatening or disreputable occurring, eg., outbreak of violence, shady activity, eg., drug dealing, street-walking etc. In other words, somewhere you wouldn't hesitate to take your kids along to.

I definitely wouldn't use "friendly" to describe a rough neighborhood, and probably not for some dive bar, just generally speaking because of the clientele that patronize it. Even if I think my neighbors are great people or know some great people who frequent a bar, I still couldn't make myself call either "friendly" places if they are generally speaking rough places.

"Maybe I'll go in here. It seems friendly enough."

Note: As an afterthought I wondered whether certain places can be rife with illegal activity, say the ones I mentioned above, and still be a friendly environment. I suppose it can. By "rough" I'm unsure whether you just mean in terms of violence, of in terms of what most would consider disreputable activity, ie., illegal gambling, illicit drug consumption and dealing etc. I'm not sure whether you count these things under the umbrella term "rough". Some of these activities could be seen as leading to a higher likelihood of violence, and any place where violence is likely to occur isn't a friendly place in my opinion.

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"Maybe I'll go in here. It seems peaceful enough."

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  • I'm not sure that peaceful would describe the appearance of a building - more like how it would be once he's gone inside. – Michael Emerson Feb 27 at 13:45
  • @MichaelEmerson Certainly in the UK, this usage would be correct. You don't usually have to be inside a building to tell how peaceful or rowdy the clientèle are being. – Chronocidal Mar 2 at 11:31
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Just because it hasn't been suggested yet, welcoming would probably be a good fit.

friendly and pleasant, especially to someone who has just arrived at a place

The people are all so friendly and welcoming.
It’s a traditional hotel with a welcoming atmosphere.

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Safe

This fits the requirements precisely, because the opposite of rough is safe. To see this, consider the definition of rough:

(Collins) 3. adjective A rough area, city, school, or other place is unpleasant and dangerous because there is a lot of violence or crime there.

(freedictionary.com) 3c. Characterized by violence or crime: lives in a rough neighborhood.

And here's the definition of safe:

(freedictionary.com) 3. Affording protection: a safe place.

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By appearance, you would probably be referring to the perceived "atmosphere" surrounding the place. The outer appearance might look "tranquil" enough.

"Maybe I'll go in here. It looks tranquil enough on the outside."

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/tranquil

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Alright

"Maybe I'll go in here; it seems alright."

This is genuine, ordinary, British English usage.

1

It depends on the tone you want. I might be tempted to use salubrious

favorable to or promoting health or well-being

Merriam-Webster

More generally, you might find a thesaurus useful to find synonyms/antonyms, when you have a word in mind but it isn't quite right.

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Benign

Meaning "mild", "harmless", "kind" or "gentle". Antonym to malign or malignant

The Oxford Dictionary entry includes this example:

‘I remember very well having the extraordinary sense that this place was very special - a benign and benevolent land.’

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0

If, as you say, you're judging the place by its outside appearance, you could say

That place looks upscale enough.

There's a difference between upscale and upscale enough. A bar a step or two above a seedy dive might be "upscale enough" even though it is not "upscale".

  • This is (I think) definitely a US English word, unlike most of the others. (Which may be fine, if that is what the OP wants!) – user323578 Feb 28 at 20:55
  • Ah, is that why it was the only DVed answer. Who are these people that use salubrious and where do they live? – Mazura Feb 28 at 23:13
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Congenial

pleasant and friendly; producing a feeling of comfort or satisfaction

It is in common usage and fits your context very well.

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Sedate

In referring to a place, this "means habitually calm and composed in manner; serene"

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0

The first word that occurred was innocuous but we need a word that implied more than harmlessness so perhaps wholesome would fit better since it implies a healthy place to have a meal or drink

protected by tchrist Mar 2 at 1:55

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