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I'm running a Sudoku website (see the link in my profile) and I set the difficulty levels as such:

  • Very Easy
  • Easy
  • Quite Easy
  • Medium
  • Quite Hard
  • Hard
  • Very Hard

and then those beyond the usual difficulties that you would find in a newspaper:

  • Vicious
  • Devilish
  • Hell

This question is about the first group of difficulties.

Someone mentioned to me that they interpreted "Quite Easy" as being "completely easy" or "easier than easy", backing their claim up with this merriam webster entry.

I never interpreted it that way in the context of my website. I always saw it as between "easy" and "medium". That got me curious about how other people interpreted it, and people do seem to be a little divided about it. Some people see it as "easier than easy", some see it as "a bit more difficult than easy".

learnenglish.britishcouncil.org claims that the meaning of "quite" depends on whether the associated adjective is a "normal" or a "strong" adjective (example: in "quite awful" the "quite" acts as an intensifier). My understanding is that that is where the ambiguity comes from. Some people probably consider "easy" a strong word, so "quite" doesn't act as a mitigator but as an intensifier.

I very much like the symmetry of the difficulty levels, and I want them short and not too technical. I want them to be informal, like everyday people would describe difficulties to each other.

I have considered

  • relatively
  • somewhat
  • a bit
  • rather
  • pretty
  • almost
  • Medium Low, Medium High, Medium-Easy, Medium-Hard

For all of those I feel there is also at least a little ambiguity.

The closest to the meaning that I originally had in mind is "rather", but I feel it would suffer from the exact same ambiguity problem from which "quite" suffers.

Am I overthinking this? Should I leave it as is? Do you have better descriptions?

Keep in mind that the difficulties themselves are already set, so "easy" really means "easy". I cannot simply shift things around too much like making it "Extremely Easy => Very Easy => Easy" => "Medium"...

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

(For those speaking German: in German I translated it to "Recht Einfach" and "Recht Schwer", which would fit right where they are at the moment. The closest English translation would in fact be "quite".)

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  • 2
    I believe there is a difference between American and British usage here, so if you're writing for a world audience you probably do want to simply avoid using "quite".
    – The Photon
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 20:48
  • 2
    There may not be a general concensus of this. As long as you show them in order, the users will pick up your intent.
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 21:30
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    You could use "fairly easy" but if you're having like 15 different difficulty levels, just give them numbers, or arbitrary names, because people will never be able to rank them exactly.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Sep 4, 2022 at 22:56
  • Thanks for your inputs.
    – 144226734
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 14:09

1 Answer 1

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Somewhat works fine. It means to a moderate extent or by a moderate amount.*

Somewhat easy effectively means partly but not entirely easy:

  • Very easy
  • Easy
  • Somewhat easy
  • Moderate
  • Somewhat hard
  • Hard
  • Very Hard

Perhaps even more clear (and symmetrical) if you don't mind an -ly adverb:

  • Very easy
  • Easy
  • Moderately easy
  • Moderate
  • Moderately hard
  • Hard
  • Very Hard

* Oxford Languages via Google define somewhat

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  • I'll go with your second proposal. I didn't think of that. Thanks!
    – 144226734
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 14:15

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