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I'm looking for a word that describes "a habit, quality or act that we should not strive to acquire or embody".

An example would be "being lazy", "uncooperative", "stubborn".
These can be said to be "negative qualities" for an individual, I'm looking for a word that succinctly describes these unwanted qualities according to most people (societal norms, I suppose).

It would be something of an antonym to the word "virtue".
A virtue is something we strive for or at least value in others.

A quick google search contains the following list of virtues: discipline, kindness, creativity, trust, gratitude, service
Arguably, you could say that we admire "disciplined people", that "being kind" is a positive quality, etc.

However, when searching for an antonym for virtue the following words pop up: dishonesty, evil, imperfection, disregard, unfairness, immorality, vice

Now, all of these word have pretty harsh and negative connotations.
If I say someone is lazy or stubborn, it would a bit overbearing to claim that this is a "sin" or a "vice", or even an act of "immorality".
I can certainly make the case for why this would not be a quality that most aspire to adopt.

So, is there a word that describes something unwanted, something that is not virtuous but nevertheless not as grave as "immorality", "vice" or "sin"?

  • The context for the word I'm trying to find: Usually we associate pushing things to the back of our minds as a <opposite of virtue/bad thing>, but actually there are positive effects of doing this. Let me explain... – Petrus K. Sep 30 at 14:35
  • Do you mean 'a habit, quality or act that we should not strive to acquire or embody' or 'a habit, quality or act that we should strive not to acquire or embody'? The latter is, quite simply. a bad habit. // M-W has: << Near Antonyms of virtue: blemish, defect, failing, fault, flaw, drawback, minus, negative >>; isn't this merely general reference? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 at 14:59
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I can think of a few words that might fit: flaw, blemish, fault, imperfection, and weakness come to mind. In the context you mention, I'd use "imperfections".

  • Imperfection a fault or defect. Imperfection applies more comprehensively to any deficiency or shortcoming: "A true critic ought to dwell rather upon excellencies than imperfections" (Joseph Addison)
  • But then surely the original question would have to be " is there a word that describes something unwanted, something that is not perfect" – Brad Sep 30 at 15:09
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However, when searching for an antonym for virtue the following words pop up: dishonesty, evil, imperfection, disregard, unfairness, immorality, vice

Now, all of these word have pretty harsh and negative connotations. If I say someone is lazy or stubborn, it would a bit overbearing to claim that this is a "sin" or a "vice", or even an act of "immorality".


The above highlights a small problem in your research, Virtuous is a rather strong positive statement. For example a person of virtue is not common place but exemplary. Therefore the Antonyms for virtuous reflect this and return results that are equally as strong in a negative sense.

bad, dishonest, sinful, unethical, vile, wicked

The easy word is undesirable

undesirable; adjective: Cambridge English Dictionary disapproving; not wanted, approved of, or popular:

Example Houses near industrial sites often do not sell so quickly because they are regarded as undesirable.

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A friend of mine suggested these words:

Fault

fault /fɔːlt,fɒlt/

noun an unattractive or unsatisfactory feature, especially in a piece of work or in a person's character.
eg. "my worst fault is impatience"

Flaw

flaw noun (1) \ ˈflȯ \

an imperfection or weakness and especially one that detracts from the whole or hinders effectiveness.
eg. "vanity was the flaw in his character."
eg. "a flaw in the book's plot."

As far as I can tell there's no better word to describe what I'm trying to get at, if anyone else has other suggestions please post them.

  • Why post a question and then answer it yourself? It would have been more polite to have proposed this in the original question, thus opening up the debate from the onset. – Brad Sep 30 at 15:07
  • Because a friend of mine that doesn't have a Stack Exchange account suggested this answer (after it was submitted). Also, not sure how answering my own question has anything to do with politeness. An argument for why I didn't edit this into the question might be that I want to see what kind of answers this question gets, without affecting the outcome by drawing an association to those two words. – Petrus K. Sep 30 at 18:11

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