I'm trying to find a word to describe a restaurant space that is the opposite of cozy. The only word I can think of is cavernous, however I don't wish to give the sense that the space is particularly large. It's simply that it is not cozy.

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    'cosy' has a very particular meaning here, that the space is smallish but not cramped, and very comfortable. What dimension of these things (and any other connotations) are you looking for the opposite in? (my first impression was that the opposite would be 'uncomfortable', which is definitely an opposite but not what you want. – Mitch Apr 16 '12 at 20:49
  • @Mitch good questions! I'm describing a space that is not particularly large, but I want to give the reader the understanding that when it is empty, it feels "the opposite of cosy". That I felt a bit lost on my own in the space. – TrojanName Apr 16 '12 at 20:52
  • As you've rejected several answers as not being in the direction you're heading, perhaps you need to explain what you mean by "opposite of cosy". Opposite in what sense? Apparently not roomy. Uncomfortable? Impersonal? ... – Jay Apr 16 '12 at 20:52

If you are trying to get ta contrast to 'cozy' with respect to comfort, then


would satisfy, without implying anything about the size.

Another word with the same feeling, same sound, but way different provenance is


  • @Mitch: I don't see how a restaurant space can be said to be sparse. Can you explain? – JLG Apr 16 '12 at 21:04
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    I would disagree that "sparse" implies "less comfortable" than cozy. I think a space could be small and comfortable with just a single comfy chair, but also sparse if there's very little else in the space. I'd say "sparse" is more the opposite of "cluttered" than it is of "cozy". – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Apr 16 '12 at 21:08
  • @FrustratedWithFormsDesigner: I disagree in the very particular instance (I don't find a single comfy chair in an empty space to be 'cozy' at all). As to implication, I find that 'sparse' is more likely to be less comfortable than 'cozy'. But yes I agree that 'sparse' is not an exact opposite, but there's never a guarantee of such, and this gets close. – Mitch Apr 16 '12 at 21:20
  • @Mitch, Can you explain your definition of sparse? I see it defined as "scanty, scattered, thinly distributed," so wouldn't it need an object to be thinly distributed? For example, you could say, "The furniture is sparse." How would you use it to describe a restaurant space? – JLG Apr 16 '12 at 22:48
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    I've dined in small spaces that nonetheless managed to be sterile. – Gnawme Apr 16 '12 at 22:59

I think OP has a slightly distorted understanding of the word cosy - it's an almost accidental connotation that cosy places are often quite small.

The key sense is comfortable, warm, sheltered, intimate/friendly, which also normally implies soft lighting, plush furnishing, relaxing background music, etc.

When referring to a "non-cosy" restaurant, it all depends on whether you want to be positive...

bright, spacious, lively, airy, bustling, popular, buzzing, flamboyant, etc.,

...or negative...

brash, flashy, loud, garish, gaudy, noisy, etc.

  • Thanks. I was looking for a negative term but I think the ones you have listed are way off. A restaurant can be loud, noisy etc and still be cosy. The reason I chose "sparse" was that it most closely reflected the sense I had when I was the only customer in the restaurant. – TrojanName Apr 16 '12 at 22:06
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    @Brian Fenton: I honestly don't think anywhere that's loud (ostentatious decor), or noisy (high sound levels) can also be cosy. I think that as I said, you're overplaying the "small" associations of cosy - but that's not part of the word's definition (OED 2.A Of a place: Sheltered and thus warm; 4: Warmly intimate or friendly;) – FumbleFingers Apr 16 '12 at 22:16

If you mainly want to give the impression that the space is not as comfortable as a cosy place, without implying anything about its size, you could use cold or uninviting.


"Cozy" usually implies "small". If you want an opposite that does not imply "large" I would assume that the space is still small, but without the positive connotations of "cozy". I would suggest "claustrophobic". If that's too extreme, maybe "closet-like", or "cramped" would do? If you want to sound almost positive, you might use the phrase "space efficient", though it might not work for your context.

  • Thanks but they're not really opposites? I'm describing a space is not particularly large, but I want to give the reader the understanding that when it is empty, it feels "the opposite of cosy". Does that make sense? – TrojanName Apr 16 '12 at 20:49

Perhaps discomforting?

Or do you mean not really welcoming or unappealing? Could we have more context?


I am a cozy, cuddly person. When I am in certain warehouse or industrial spaces, if they are not filled with the expected "sound and vision" of artistic, or warm, usually organic touches of an eatery, I can get depressed fast. It's almost a feeling of agoraphobia: cold, sterile, empty, disconnected, detached, remote—like there is not enough love, light, creativity, happiness or human connection to fill the space. (In restaurants, usually the wine, food, and temperature take care of that immediately!)

  • agoraphobic? Interesting... – Mazura Apr 24 '15 at 3:55

How about spacious or ample? Sizable, extensive, expansive. And capacious and commodious are nice big words.

  • Thanks, but I'm trying to avoid giving the sense that the space is large. So none of those are a good fit. – TrojanName Apr 16 '12 at 20:44

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