Unconfident

By day I'm an English Lecturer. And yet I'm starting sentences with 'and' and having a minor mental struggle with the word 'unconfident.' Is it a word? My colleagues and I got caught up with this question before classes started this morning and it remains unresolved. The internet doesn't help, in case you were thinking of Googling it. One site gives a definition, or lists it as an antonym of confident; another tells you the word doesn't exist. J suspects it's an Americanism. I know at least one published author reads this blog occasionally. Any ideas? Or will I be forced to go upstairs and consult the big OED?

Comments

Yolise said…
If it's an Americanism, I've not heard it! "Lack of" would be my choice, but what do I know?
Mule said…
Hi, oddly enough my workplace is in the middle of the same discussion - is unconfident a usable word or not? Have come to the decision not to use it as although everyone agrees it does not sound right no one seems to know precisely why. I have opted for 'not' instead.
Paul said…
Yes it is a word - well the dictionary reckons it is anyway.
http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/unconfident?view=uk
Anonymous said…
So, I also had a discussion about 'unconfident' as my friend used it in a sentence, and we both looked at each other and said "unconfident???" So I decided to google it and I found your blog. Apparently we are not the only ones to have ridiculous conversations like this.... I also opted against using unconfident as a word, but my friend uses it in hopes of it being an actual word.
Anonymous said…
ok wierdly, a colleague and I are also in the middle of searching to see if unconfident is a word... googled it and found this! still don't feel convinced though!
Anonymous said…
ok, then i'm the third one be guided here by google..
Anonymous said…
that makes me the fourth. Everyone laughed at me when I suggested it might be. I think it is, and if not, I'm using it anyway.
Pierz said…
Hey, I was having this same argument at work, too. When I failed to find the word in the shorter Oxford, I conceded the point. But then I looked it up the great big longer extended authoritative and final Oxford English Dictionary, and find it was used by John Ruskin in 1871. So there.
oliver said…
Im not sure if I should write this for fear of friends finding out, but i will anyway. I have been getting signs from this girl that ive like for a while, but since i am a nerd at heart i did not have the courage to make the first move. We were both drunk tonight but i screwed it up. so when i got home, at about 4am i decided to send her a text. This is what i wrote before having a little drunk inner struggle about whether a word was real or not: "there is something important you and me need to talk about. When I look properly i see and feel the same way. im an unconfident screw up :( " after i wrote that i looked on google and found this, and i saw enough evidence to send the text. true story.

Please moderator approve this blog entry because it is worth approving!!
Will said…
Happy to approve your comment but please, don't be so hard on yourself.
Anonymous said…
I think I am the fifth guided by google....but still chose to change it to read "lacking"
Anonymous said…
Given that confidence is a level based adjective, i.e. how much, confidence is something you have enough of, or not enough of, therefore the prefix un- is plausibly impossible to use. The Un- prefix is used to reverse or the absence of. since having negative confidence or zero confidence would suggest a person who has no ability to do anything through fear, would be effectively dead (fear of eating).

The prefix in- can suggest lacking or reduction of ability, so is plausible, and has case usage in net-blogs, while the more correct form, its lack of world usage in wide spread English, means that is sounds 'incorrect'.
Johnny said…
I'm here by Google as well.
Oh yeahhhhh.
Anyway, um, I think I'm still gonna use the word.
But with a hyphen.
Because hyphens are cool.
They make everything right.
Mary & Anne said…
Also led here by Google, we are 2 Americans, one of us an English teacher.

We were just watching a UK tv show where a dog trainer was using the word. When we heard it we both looked at eachother-- unconfident?

We were thinking it must be a British thing.

In the end, we are split. My mother, the English teacher, says she wouldn't recommend or use it.

I've lived abroad and tend to view and use language more adaptively. I would call it "poetic license" and move on.

Just our 4 cents.
Anonymous said…
No kidding!! My husband and I were both brought here by Google and the British dog training program of which you speak. My husband likes the use of the word unconfident. I, however, do not.
Paul A. Kroll said…
I googled it too. I was chatting with a Russian student of mine that was comparing President Elect Obama, and his speech giving skills to President Bush. I heard unconfident and told him it was correct (he questioned it when he said it), but I looked it up and didn't find it in my dictionary. Right now, as I'm writing this entry, it is underlined in red to alert me of its incorrectness. I don't think it's bad, but if so many curious people feel the need to check its validity then it probably shouldn't be used. Just my opinion.
Anonymous said…
I too stumbled upon this blog while 'googling' for a resolution to the question at hand, but all of these posts leave me feeling unconfident that a consensus has been reached. Thanks anyway :)
Anonymous said…
Well, it's January 2010, in California, and I just heard the word "unconfident" used on TV, and had to check. It just doesn't sound right, and I won't be using it. The debate continues...
Will said…
I'm amazed this continues. I should have called my blog the Unconfident Blog! Anyway, glad to have another opinion. For the record, I am firmly on the side of avoiding the word.

[Sudden thought] I'll call the next album Unconfident. Maybe it'll sell more. ;-)
Anonymous said…
Against.
There are far more creative ways of expressing a lack of confidence without resorting to the very ugly word that is 'unconfident'.
And no, it is not a matter of 'poetic license'

Popular Posts