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I'm looking for an existing word that roughly means "the process or idea of replacing bad/negative elements/deeds with good/positive elements/deeds, such as when a negative thing is eliminated at the same time that a positive thing is added".

In terms of words that would not fit this goal are words that could (to some people) mean only the elimination of bad or the addition of good without the other half.

Here is an example sentence showing the usage:

I live my life with _____ so that I'm not just removing bad habits, but I'm filling the hole created by removing the bad habits with the addition of good habits, which both maintains my ability to fight returning to the bad habit while also creating a positive element at the same time.

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  • Sorry, I did have it backwards in the title. The context of the question is in relation to behaviors, attributes of personality, and habits. "Removing bad habits and adding good habits" might be a better definition/example. Oct 24, 2023 at 18:04
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    'Rehabituate' is a word. Is there a complete sentence you can edit into the question that shows how the word will be used? Aside, I don't think anyone here will be inventing a new word for you. Welcome to Stack Exchange! May I suggest you take the Tour and read the help center to find out how to ask a good question? Oct 24, 2023 at 18:06
  • "I live my life with <word> so that I'm not just removing bad habits, but I'm filling the hole created by removing the bad habits with the addition of good habits, which both maintains my ability to fight returning to the bad habit while also creating a positive element at the same time." Oct 24, 2023 at 18:18
  • Thank you for your suggestions! I've gone ahead and taken the tour and read the help center. Regarding your answers, I believe (although, I might be mistaken) that the prefix re- implies a return to an original state. For example, rehabilitate means to return someone to a good state, refurbish means to make something usable again, etc. In this case, I'm looking for a word that either doesn't necessarily mean returning back to a previous state that is good (otherwise, it would be the readdition of a good habit). Oct 24, 2023 at 18:42
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    I've removed the parts that talk about inventing a new word, which is normally off-topic. You've already asked a good question for a potential word that has a usage.
    – ermanen
    Oct 24, 2023 at 19:56

3 Answers 3

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I'd say the most succinct way to convey the situation described by OP is to call it a piecemeal upgrade.

piecemeal adjective
done, made, or accomplished piece by piece or in a fragmentary way
Example usage: piecemeal reforms in the system

Generally speaking, this adjective is used disapprovingly. It's usually thought better to fix everything at once, within the context of an overall design. Doing things bit by bit means you always have to maintain "backward compatibility" for those elements not yet upgraded.

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  • Thank you for your comment! I believe that "piecemeal upgrade" does not convey the old thing being negative. I would use "piecemeal upgrade" to refer to a less positive (but positive nonetheless) element being replaced by something that is more positive than the original element. Oct 24, 2023 at 18:20
  • Well, good luck with your search, but I seriously doubt there would be any short form of words going into that level of detail. What possible context starts with many separate negative aspects, each of which might be "reversed" into a positive attribute, one item at a time? Oct 24, 2023 at 18:23
  • The word I'm looking for would not necessarily be one item at a time. In general, it's just referring to the idea of remembering to add something good when something bad is removed, rather than expecting that it's a good thing just to remove something bad in itself. Oct 24, 2023 at 18:39
  • Just upgrade sounds quite close to the idea.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 24, 2023 at 18:51
  • @MagicalHacker: Is it really relevant that this "replace something bad with something good" action might happen repeatedly in some context? I don't say there is, but there might be a short way of expressing the single "improvement" that specifically implies changing something that was always "negative" with something that's always "positive". That's as opposed to the more normal situation, where you "upgrade" those aspects of a system that were "good enough" in the past, but which can now be improved upon. Oct 24, 2023 at 19:15
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Amelioration comes pretty close. It is similar to the word improvement; but amelioration means improving something negative/bad, while improvement is not necessarily improving something bad.

Cambridge provides this succinct definition of amelioration:

the process of making a bad or unpleasant situation better

Note: Amelioration may not naturally fit your example sentence which you've added later to the original post. Perhaps, you could use a more general phrase like "a positive attitude/mindset" in your example sentence to sound more natural.

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  • Thank you for your suggestion! Could ameliorate mean the process by which a bad situation becomes a less bad situation? If so, that would mean that it doesn't fit what I'm looking for. As you said with improvement, I'm looking for a word that means bad being removed and good added in its place, rather than more bad being turned to less bad or less good being turned to more good. I think that's why I have the sense that transplantation is the best fitting word in spite of the really good reasons why it's not a good fit either. Oct 24, 2023 at 20:48
  • @MagicalHacker Amelioration is perhaps the best you can get. Its meaning has the implication that when something is improved or made better; something negative is removed/eliminated. There was something bad/negative to begin with, and you improve the situation/condition/thing etc. and make it better; and it can include adding a positive thing.
    – ermanen
    Oct 24, 2023 at 21:04
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After getting some great answers and doing some research, I believe that "transplantation" is probably the best word for this that exists. The only problem with it is that it's typically associated with adding something positive that previously existed. "Liver transplantation" would refer to a good liver turning into a bad liver and then being removed while a good liver is added. In contrast, I would be referring to something that was never good being replaced by something that is new and good.

That said, I don't think such a word is likely to exist.

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    Transplantation in a surgical sense means moving something from one person to another - it often involves removing the corresponding non-functional entity from the recipient, but isn't a requirement in cases where the entity doesn't even exist (e.g., a person with no hands can receive a hand transplant). In a non-surgical sense, the term merely means moving something from one place to another, and has no connotations of getting rid of anything bad, introducing anything good, nor of improvement in general. Oct 24, 2023 at 20:06
  • I think you are absolutely right on those points regarding why transplantation isn't a good fit for this word. However, if speaking about habits (to stay consistent with my example above), the concept of "habit transplantation" might be close enough to my desired meaning that someone reading this phrase for the first time might be able to extrapolate what I'm trying to say with the phrase. I'm still searching for a better term, but I know that it may not exist. Oct 24, 2023 at 20:50

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