I'm seeking the word that describes a character trait for someone who, when given a system of beliefs, methods, or views, will sort through and accept or emulate only the best or purposeful parts of the system, while disregarding the irrational, superfluous, or unnecessary parts of said system.

I'm looking for adjective, used to describe the tendency of a person to act in a certain manner. I believe it ends in the suffix -ive, though I cannot be sure.

"Arya may see the purpose of their system of beliefs and the good that they do, yet she often argues at the inconsistent narratives and irrational acceptance of blind faith that such views require. She can be very ____ in matters such as these."

I'm looking for a neutral connotation.

Further context (long shot): it is used in one of the Inheritance Cycle books for one of the main characters, Eragon, to describe his love interest Arya, in a similar manner as posted above. I simply cannot find or remember the exact wording, or the chapter that it was used in, even though I have searched the definition of this word before.

A synonym for such a trait, used as a verb, would be "to cherry-pick".

e.g. "Bob likes to go to church, but when it comes to the Bible, he cherry-picks what to believe and what not to believe."

Further to a comment provided by Carly, the English adjective I'm looking for is also likely to match the Japanese concept of iitoko-dori.

  • 2
    theres a perfect japanese term for it: iitoko-dori. good luck in your search. nihongomaster.com/dictionary/entry/109426/iitokodori
    – Carly
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 23:15
  • I have rolled back the question title. The edit made to it was a kind of subtle way of presupposing the answer to the question. Changes to it should be done in such a way as to not turn it into a, literally, leading question. Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 4:27
  • @Chappo I was going to suggest selective until I read your comment. Did the original version of the question specifically exclude it?
    – BoldBen
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 7:06
  • @BoldBen Exactly. Personally, my immediate answer would also be selective. (I disagree that it's inappropriate.) But, seeing it in the title, I would presume that it was a word that was not desired by the OP. At this point, I can only wait to have the OP comment on selective. Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 8:21
  • @chappo Unless it's the OP who is adding a word, I don't think that anybody should pick any word that might be an answer. (And it doesn't matter if you think it's the right answer or not.) Nobody would tend to suggest it because the assumption would be that, since it is in the question, it is not a desired answer. It should really be the OP to make this kind of wording edit. Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 8:24

3 Answers 3


The adjective selective fits your description. It ends in -ive and matches the meaning you want the word you're looking for to have. The Oxford Dictionary gives this adjective, among other meanings, the following definition:

(of a person) tending to choose carefully

Example sentence:

He is very selective in his reading.

  • Selective is good as it also relates to the (more formal) problem of selection bias in data analysis: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_bias
    – user323578
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 9:15


eclec·​tic | \ i-ˈklek-tik, e-\

Definition of eclectic (Entry 1 of 2)

  1. composed of elements drawn from various sources
    also: heterogeneous

  2. selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles

EDIT: or another possibility would be Syncretic, however it infers an amalgamation of all of the doctrines, instead of taking what is desired from each.

Note on other answers

I must apologize for the misleading "-ive" suffix that I had originally assumed that the word contained.

@Mike R - While selective does, in a broad sense, cover the grounds of the word I was looking for, it does not pertain specifically to sets of ideals. One can be selective about anything, including vocabulary and semantics. :p

@listeneva - While discriminating does fit the definition that I was looking for, I feel that it can carry a negative connotation that does not work well when describing one who accepts and emulates the best of different ideals and philosophies. Also, Slate Magazine is being a little one sided there. Girls can be just as discriminating, if not more so, for their play things. ;)

  • 2
    Glad you've found it. Just so you know, though, discriminating does not "carry a negative connotation". Here's its definition from an Oxford Dictionary: "Having or showing refined taste or good judgement." It doesn't carry such a negative connotation associated with discriminatory or discriminate. Speaking of a negative connotation, "Cherry picking has a negative connotation as the practice neglects, overlooks or directly suppresses evidence that could lead to a complete picture." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherry_picking
    – listeneva
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 15:38
  • @listeneva - while what you're saying is certainly true in the traditional or objective sense, we must always remember that the connotation of language is primarily derived from social trends and understandings. Currently, to call oneself "discriminating" could lead to some unfortunate social misinterpretations; as discrimination is such a HUGE social issue. Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 15:49
  • @ listeneva (continued) - Also, it seems to me that trying to tell me that discriminating is not negative, yet cherry picking is, after offering discriminating as an answer, and telling me that one neglects and overlooks while the other does not, is rather contradictory. Also, this is why I was seeking the word eclectic, as it infers that one has already considered the entirety of a "picture" yet emulates or selects only the best parts. After all, no one wants to eat rotten cherries. Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 15:49
  • 1
    Eclectic doesn't commonly convey the meaning you're going for of evaluating and picking the best parts. Most people use it to mean diverse or wide-ranging, with a hint that the choices are peculiar or unusual. That secondary meaning discusses a particular philosophical branch, Eclecticism, which does do what you're asking about, but is not widely known.
    – Katy
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 16:41
  • If this answer were from anyone else, I would be tempted to vote it down for not answering the question! (I don't think this word means what you think it does.)
    – user323578
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 18:48

How about 'discriminating'?

Here are some attested examples:

a. Fraternities and sororities play a huge role in the student life of many Americans who attend higher education, providing an instant network of friends, and a vast network of contacts to make use of after graduation. The most “prestigious” student groups can be very discriminating in who they admit. (The Independent)

b. Here’s what developmental psychologists do know: Boys can be very discriminating when it comes to choosing a plaything. (Slate Magazine)

c. With so many selections of golds and silvers, a scenic artist or faux-finish painter can be very discriminating when selecting a metallic finish. (Scenic Art for the Theatre: History, Tools and Techniques)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.