What's a noun that can describe the aspect of someone's character that means they irrationally judge and disdain something?

Noticing whether food has meat or not in the first place is a weird ____ of being American

(My example may not be factually accurate, and the word shouldn't necessarily mean it's unique)

I'm just after a negative synonym of idiosyncrasy, or fixation/obsession/scruple.

  • 1
    Will you be using weird in your sentence? Or are you looking for a word that already has weird wrapped up in it? Or: Noticing whether food has meat or not in the first place is a weirdly American. Mar 21 at 2:58
  • Or put another way: Are you asking for a one-word pejorative that means weird characteristic as compared to the neutral, one-word characteristic? Mar 21 at 4:21

4 Answers 4


The word fixation might work. You already mentioned it in your question, but it has the exact connotations you're looking for. Collins defines it as follows:

If you accuse a person of having a fixation on something or someone, you mean they think about a particular subject or person to an extreme and excessive degree.


preoccupation (noun):

as in obsession
something about which one is constantly thinking or concerned


I think preoccupation best describes their condition, while trip best describes their reaction to, let's say, pesto pasta as a main course. I like predilection best to fill in the blank:

Noticing whether food has meat or not in the first place is a weird predilection of being American.


You may use compulsion

A very strong feeling of wanting to do something repeatedly that is difficult to control

The perceived lack of control gives a negative overtone to the usage. The repeated nature of the behaviour contributes to the character of the person, reinforcing their identity, which in this case is American.

Here is an example of the usage applied to the British:

There are lots of things about the British I do not understand: the national compulsion to clap along, in unison but off the beat, to any music; Mr Blobby’s Christmas No 1; the use of “quite nice” to mean “really not very nice at all”; bread sauce.


You might like peculiarity. OED provides the definition

1. The quality of being peculiar to or characteristic of an individual person or thing. Also: that which is peculiar to an individual person or thing; a distinguishing or special characteristic.

While this definition suggests that the word is only applicable to individuals, which might rule it out from being applied to (all) Americans, several of the citations use it to describe the quirks of groups, and I've certainly never avoided applying it to groups in many years of native (BrE) speaking.

Under peculiar OED provides

5. gen. Singular, unusual, strange, odd.

which I think justifies the use of peculiarity for OP's requirements.

As to whether this is "negative enough" I'm not sure. I think it might well express the pot calling the kettle black, that is your habits are peculiar, mine are entirely normal.

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