What should I use in the case I want to describe something that everybody wants to avoid.

This can have undesired consequences.


This can have undesirable consequences.

What to use in either way?

I saw this question but I believe positive and negative forms have different nuances.

  • Positive and negative forms of what? What in particular does the linked question not answer? – Weather Vane Apr 2 at 11:00
  • Undesirable would be more general than undesired (i.e. nobody would desire that). – Lliane Apr 2 at 11:10
  • More general means when there is no subject? – Suncatcher Apr 2 at 11:27

In this context Undesired is an adjective to describe the results. Undesirable means much the same thing but is used to caste the results as a category. In a story or sentence this is a more severe, negative restriction.

If two people showed up to do the job and neither one was appropriate I might describe them in two ways. One who is unqualified but pleasant would be undesired meaning not desired because they clearly could not manage the job. The other, nasty, brutish and short tempered, is very clearly not suited to any legitimate work would be described as An undesirable. This means they are not desired at all for anything or perhaps even tolerated in my world.

The context of your two sentences does not make clear the use or expectation of the result so the difference is minor and a distinction not so useful.

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  • Well, the line is very thin. So smb more-or-less dude who failed the job is not the same as dude who is totally jerk and also failed the job. It is just a matter of social adoption and soft skills? And what if we speak about hurricane (hurricane can lead to undesirable consequences) or any other disaster? – Suncatcher Apr 2 at 17:07
  • The use is not restricted to people nor to hurricanes. – Elliot Apr 3 at 20:28

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