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The Italian term “ecomostro” is often used to indicate:

an ugly and environmentally damaging building. (Collins)

Here is an example:

enter image description here (Linkiesta.it)

Is there a term, a neologism for “ecomostro”. In dictionaries I could find only descriptive translations.

NB: the supposed duplicate is related at most. This question is not about an ugly building!!!!!

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    perhaps "eyesore" google.com/…
    – bookmanu
    Oct 14, 2022 at 13:31
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    Can you add to your answer a description of what you think it means. There might be some people here who are familiar with the nuances of the Italian word, but that would be unexpected. it is more likely that you'll find people who can match well your English description of the word. That said, is the Italian word short for 'ecological monstrosity'?
    – Mitch
    Oct 14, 2022 at 13:45
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    @EdwinAshworth - the question you mention is about an ugly building. Ecomostro has more and wider implications.
    – Gio
    Oct 14, 2022 at 14:07
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    For ugly buildings, carbuncle has been used by Prince (now King) Charles, inspiring the Carbuncle Cup
    – Henry
    Oct 14, 2022 at 14:25
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    What is wrong with the word 'ecomonster'? It is not in the Cambridge English dictionary, but there can be a first time for any fusion between two words/ideas. It is obvious what it meaning is. If, as Edwin Ashworth points out, there is more to the Italian word than just 'eyesore', if it catches on, there is more in it that just size and colour. Its use can develop as do the uses of any neologism.
    – Tuffy
    Oct 14, 2022 at 22:04

7 Answers 7

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There is a touching belief among students of English that there is an English word for every possible "thing" or circumstance. Some students limit this to being an English word for every possible "thing" or circumstance in their own language.

Unfortunately, this is not so and many foreign words have to be rendered as a descriptive phrase, or even clause, in English.

ecomostro

an ugly and environmentally damaging building. (Collins)

combines an ecological disaster or threat and an eyesore.

There is no single English word.

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  • This is probably the best answer. There are some vulgar colloquialisms that don’t apply strictly to buildings, but in ordinary polite speech most people would use an adjective or a phrase.
    – user205876
    Oct 15, 2022 at 0:48
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    I hate your sprezzatura. Oct 16, 2022 at 3:45
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There are many subtleties to translation involving word nuances and social and historical context and the social context. And neologisms in the original have their own difficulties. For the Italian word 'ecomostre', it seems to come from a portmanteau of the term 'ecological monstrosity' to describe a building that is large and ugly and also impacts surrounding natural situation badly.

To preserve the implications but not necessarily all the nuances of the Italian term, I suggest the best translation is:

ecological monstrosity

Just be as literal as possible. There's no equivalent single word in English.


Comments: Just as Italian created the neologism, there's nothing stopping English from doing similarly, either by borrowing the word directly. Unfortunately 'ecomostrosity' would be unnatural in English, we'd really need to modify and add the 'n' back in to match the English 'monster' to make it a palatable English word.

But also, 'ecomonstrosity', while it could very well be a good English neologism (as suggested by TaliesinMerlin), it has already been used (though not enough to be included in dictionaries) and it means something different from the Italian. 'Ecomonstrosity' seems to be used by a small handful of authors to devote 'results of ecological disaster'.

Which is to say, if some journalist or TV pundit in English starts referring to brutalist architecture or dams that disrupt ecosystems as 'ecomonstrosities' then maybe that meaning will take off in English.

Which is to say if you really want a new word to become popular, get a New York Times op-ed article published with your word in the title.

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    I agree that ecological preserves the specific nuances of eco-. Ecomonstrosity does exist as a coinage, but it seems to launch off of other meanings of monstrosity, and it isn't common use. Oct 14, 2022 at 14:37
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    By the way, the New York Times no longer has "op-eds", only "Guest Essays": nytimes.com/2021/04/26/opinion/nyt-opinion-oped-redesign.html
    – Juhasz
    Oct 14, 2022 at 17:37
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    @Juhasz Does this mean that we will be spared this term "op-ed" for anything published from now on?
    – Rosie F
    Oct 14, 2022 at 17:42
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    @RosieF, probably not. Washington Post encourages readers to "Submit an op-ed", but, funnily enough, there's no "Op-ed" section ("Guest Opinions" and "Local Opinions"). Anyway, If we're still "dialing" phones in 2022, the fact that there's no physical page "opposite" the opinions page isn't likely to discourage use too much.
    – Juhasz
    Oct 14, 2022 at 18:20
  • I'd argue that the other usage is small enough that context could easily make eco-monstrosity an understandable and thus acceptable term.
    – trlkly
    Oct 17, 2022 at 0:39
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One term you can use is monstrosity. It keeps to the cognate within ecomostro (mostro ~ monster) while fitting usage in English. From the Oxford English Dictionary, def. 4:

  1. Something aesthetically displeasing, esp. an ugly, oversized, or inappropriate building or structure.

1856 Illustr. London News 11 Oct. 359/1 Trafalgar-square, that place of monstrosities and hideosities,..is a spot which it is scarcely possible for an educated Englishman to pass without a feeling of shame or disgust.

...

1991 M. Gray First Fifty (BNC) 109 Why a laird would build such a strange, suburban, concrete monstrosity in a remote and beautiful glen is open to debate.

This recent headline captures the sense that a structure is both aesthetically and ecologically undesirable:

'A monstrosity': A Fayetteville neighborhood frustrated by natural gas substation (WRAL News)

So do the first lines of the article, also using the similar word eyesore:

An eyesore. A monstrosity. That’s how frustrated homeowners in Fayetteville describe a natural gas substation built near their homes.

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  • All of them are environmentally damaging. But especially those that are made mostly out of concrete, "one of the two largest producers of carbon dioxide". Concrete monstrosity ... +50k hits. concrete should tell you right away that it's not 'green'. And monstrosity sounds like atrocity, which is what it is. "1 : a shockingly bad or atrocious act, object, or situation"
    – Mazura
    Oct 15, 2022 at 1:08
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    @Mazura Concrete production may result in lots of carbon dioxide, but most English speakers probably don't know that, and the word "concrete" doesn't have anti-green connotations. Oct 15, 2022 at 2:22
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    It should. The narrative has been spun that the onus is on the private citizen, while it's industry causing the problem. But yes, the ecology aspect here is its location rather than its construction (and resource allocation for 'sprawl'). Why a laird would build such a strange, suburban, concrete monstrosity in a remote and beautiful glen ... because concrete is cheap AF and will last for centuries, which is also a horrible eco impact because as of yet, to demolish and remove it requires diesel fuel.
    – Mazura
    Oct 15, 2022 at 13:24
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The word is 'ecomostro'. Do what English has always done, just appropriate the word, for example, 'pergola'.

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    All languages use foreign loan words when the exact word does not exist in that language, this is not unique to English. Oct 16, 2022 at 18:20
  • @HollisWilliams Nobody said it was? Oct 17, 2022 at 13:19
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Ecological eyesore is a good option and it is given as the English equivalent of ecomostro in Wiktionary also. It is easy to understand as it combines ecological and eyesore, a well-known word for an ugly building. The term ecological eyesore is not that common but it has enough credible results from a google search (which includes Washingtonpost and Forbes articles) to consider it. The term even appears in some Italian sources and here is an example:

All these efforts contributed to the demolition of the ecological eyesore by the Swiss authorities, which concluded in 2012.

valleintelviturismo.it

As a neologism, ecomonster could be the right choice as mostro means monster in Italian; and English has many words with the prefix eco-, usually hyphenated as in eco-disaster. However, per google search, ecomonster was not used for this meaning in many occassions and it shows up as a proper noun in many results. Thus, this term is not that ideal. As a bonus, I'm tempted to coin ecosore from ecological eyesore.

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    The question is not a strict single-word-request question per the title and the question body, even though it has the single-word-requests tag (but also the neologism tag). The OP is asking if there is a term or a neologism in English also, which doesn't have to be single word and there can be phrases in usage; and in fact there are. The OP could possibly add additional tags like phrase-requests, terminology etc. Also, it is not always about colloquial usage or common parlance; some questions merit answers with special terminology and uncommon words. We are on ELU, not ELL.
    – ermanen
    Oct 17, 2022 at 15:57
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The English phrase that immediately comes to mind for me is "eco monstrosity", though you might omit "eco" depending on the context.

The impulse to seek "one word" as a translation for a single word in their own language is common for second language learners. While this is a good motivation to expand vocabulary, it is ultimately futile, as the aggregation of morphemes into words differs widely between languages, and may vary even between speakers of the same language.

Languages range from agglutinative, where many adjectives and pre/postpositions simply become part of one noun "word", to those with complex inflexion systems that encode many pre/postpositions but leave adjectives as separate words, to those that have no inflexion whatsoever and mark all relationships using pre/postpositions, or infer them from word order.

Beyond that, asking for "one word" does not even make sense in some languages, though that is rare today: prior to the creation of their written forms, many oral languages did not have an universal sense of "a word" as a unit that would retain "the same" meaning when severed from a sentence. Western linguists have largely imposed such notions on the speakers of other languages.

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  • I’m simply asking if there is a word for the sense “ecomostro” was coined for. The answer can simply be: no there isn’t. The term was coined about 30 years ago in Italy because too many “ecomostri” had been built in the past years when regulations and controls were too loose. I guess the same problem is present also in other countries or simply other countries were quicker in fixing rules and controls so as to avoid the same problems.
    – Gio
    Oct 17, 2022 at 5:23
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To some extent, "McMansion"

As other answers have indicated, there is no single word in English which matches precisely to the Italian ecomostro. However, for the limited case of single-family private homes, the term McMansion (which has been in use since the 1980's) comes close.

A McMansion may not be technically ugly or an eyesore, but it is often considered vulgar:

McMansions often haphazardly mix a variety of conflicting architectural styles and elements, combining quoins, steeply sloped roofs, multiple roof lines, complicated massing, and pronounced dormers, to produce an appearance that many consider unpleasant, jumbled, or messy.

While they may not be ecological disasters individually, collectively they represent both wasted resources and the increasing economic division that promotes such waste:

The widespread disdain for the McMansion stems from perceptions that these houses ...are extremely wasteful (due to their inefficient land usage (suburban sprawl) and the large amounts of materials and utilities needed to construct them), and increase commute times significantly.

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