bestish

Kirusha

Senior Member
Dear All,

Can I ask you how acceptable you find the word "bestish" as in the example below?

"she has a boyfriend whom she keeps avoiding; her bestish friends, flawless Jules and sympathetic Kiki, are getting on her nerves — no, they're not — uh, yes, ..."

(https://books.google.ru/books?id=Fyn1HnjHycQC&pg=PP2&lpg=PP2&dq="bestish"&source=bl&ots=N1U32vSCBv&sig=44RXqMwTh4TA8kObP2zYNCopHPU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDoQ6AEwCDhGahUKEwjnpYyVhLvHAhXi_XIKHc-lA2Q#v=onepage&q="bestish"&f=false)


Edit:
Source: The Quirky Girls' Guide to Rest Stops and Road Trips
By Karen Rivers (2007)
The source should be named in the post. A link to Google books is not sufficient.
Cagey, moderator
 
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  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    In the context you've provided -- talking casually to teenagers -- it's understandable and (to me) relatively inoffensive. I wouldn't expect to see it elsewhere, nor would I use it.

    [Cross-posted with joanvillafane]
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I don't think anyone has mentioned so far that bestish doesn't really mean the same thing as bestest friends. What -ish indicates is they aren't quite her best friends. They are close friends, but not quite close enough that she feels as though she can call them her "best friends." Just as reddish means "sort of red," so bestish means "sort of best."

    But I agree with everything that others have said about its acceptability.
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    Thank you, JustKate. A student was telling me about a friend, and there was a longish pause after "best", which I thought could be filled with another "ish", and then I thought I'd better make sure that it could. But now you have me wondering: is there a more grown-up way to say the same thing (other than "she's my best friend, sort of")?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I would probably write:

    "she has a boyfriend whom she keeps avoiding, while flawless Jules and sympathetic Kiki – probably her best friends - are getting on her nerves.”
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    Thank you, PaulQ. I suppose there might be a slight difference in meaning to someone with a teenager's sensitivity. A bestish friend is someone who falls short of being the best.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I wouldn't say that bestish is completely unacceptable for adults. Certainly in very casual circumstances we do use - or misuse or overuse - the suffix -ish. Well, perhaps I should say that I do. Perhaps some of the other native speakers here are better behaved than I am.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Probably not, '-ish' is informally useful. I've even heard double ones:

    A: "I'd say it was more grey than black."
    B: "Well... it's blackish."
    A: "No it's grey."
    B: "Ok - it's blackish-ish..."
    A: "As I said, 'grey'..." :D
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I agree. There is something not quite "best friends" about the relationship. It could be that she doesn't consider them equals or that she's not completely honest with them or that they are not very close but they are the closest friends she has.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It should be noted that in the book it is written correctly as "best-ish".
    We can do this with almost any adjective, though adding "ish" to a superlative is comic.

    Did you like that new restaurant you went to?
    Yes, it was good but expensive...ish.

    Here the speaker is changing their mind as they speak, and modifying what they have already said. They could have said "it was a bit expensive".
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    But now you have me wondering: is there a more grown-up way to say the same thing (other than "she's my best friend, sort of")?
    One grown-up way of saying it would be "She's a good friend of mine," in which the qualifier "very" has consciously been left out.
     
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    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I wouldn't say that bestish is completely unacceptable for adults. Certainly in very casual circumstances we do use - or misuse or overuse - the suffix -ish. Well, perhaps I should say that I do. Perhaps some of the other native speakers here are better behaved than I am.
    I'm not. Doing a search of this forum I find that I've used (variously) okayish, commonish, related-ish, quaintish, fullish, literally(ish), subtle-ish, reminiscent-ish, serious-ish, similar-ish, soberish, Kafka-ish, sure-ish, redudant(ish), natural-ish, average-ish, standard(ish), slangish ... I could go on and on and on.

    One grown-up way of saying it would be "She's a good friend of mine," in which the qualifier "very" has consciously been left out.
    In my humble opinion, Estjarn, She's a good friend of mine means nothing like She's one of my bestish friends. It's entirely devoid of any form of nuance:(
     
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    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    In my humble opinion, Estjarn, She's a good friend of mine means nothing like She's one of my bestish friends. It's entirely devoid of any form of nuance:(
    Perhaps you could give us your version of how it would be said in a "grown-up" way then, lest we be in danger of concluding that there was no such way. (I understand "grown-up" to mean "more formal" here.)

    As I see it, all these fall under the "more formal" category:

    She's an acquaintance (of mine).
    She's a friend (of mine).
    (This one is without nuance, in my opinion.)
    She's a good friend of mine.
    She's a very good friend/close friend of mine.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Perhaps you could give us your version of how it would be said in a "grown-up" way then, lest we be in danger of concluding that there was no such way. (I understand "grown-up" to mean "more formal" here.)

    As I see it, all these fall under the "more formal" category:

    She's an acquaintance (of mine).
    She's a friend (of mine).
    (This one is without nuance, in my opinion.)
    She's a good friend of mine.
    She's a very good friend/close friend of mine.
    She is a close friend of convenience. ;)
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    As I see it, all these fall under the "more formal" category:

    She's an acquaintance (of mine).
    She's a friend (of mine).
    (This one is without nuance, in my opinion.)
    She's a good friend of mine.
    She's a very good friend/close friend of mine.
    All those are unnuanced nuanceless without nuance, in my opinion.

    I might translate into more formal English as: She's one of the people I refer to as my best friends.
    In British English it would be: She's someone I know who I refer to as a best friend; in truth I don't even like her.
    If she was really a best friend, she'd call her a best friend:) In fact She's one of my bestish friends is a subtle way of saying She's not one of my best friends.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    What -ish indicates is they aren't quite her best friends. They are close friends, but not quite close enough that she feels as though she can call them her "best friends." Just as reddish means "sort of red," so bestish means "sort of best."
    This is how I understand "bestish" too.
    She's someone I know who I refer to as a best friend; in truth I don't even like her.
    This is a complete game changer. No one has mentioned anything about this sense, not even you in your first post, although all other posters apparently agree with JustKate. I took for granted you did too.

    But if this is your understanding of "bestish", then I can see why you feel my suggestion means "nothing like" She's one of my bestish friends.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    "best-ish", my preferred writing, may be related to "besties"

    "besties" aren't necessarily your best friends and they may not necessarily be your "foe-ishes".

    It all happens in a course of time in one's life, and that course is short for young people.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    This is a complete game changer. No one has mentioned anything about this sense, not even you in your first post, although all other posters apparently agree with JustKate. I took for granted you did too.
    I do agree with JK, but I do so from what I suspect is a British slant. To my ears the keyword in She's not quite one of my best friends isn't quite ~ it's not. In BrE comments like this are seldom anywhere near as innocent as they seem. (Other BrE speakers are free to contradict me here.) Surely you've heard the old adage: If an American says he likes you, it means he likes you; if a Briton says he likes you, it means he doesn't.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I don't know about using best-ish to imply anything more sinister than a friend, ewie, you rasie a new angle for me there.

    I was told the other day (by some acquaintance of mine) that "best" friends is a concept for youngsters only, so this question made me smile.
    is there a more grown-up way to say the same thing (other than "she's my best friend, sort of")?
    According to her there is not a more grown-up way because in her mind she has ditched the concept of best freinds now.

    I haven't, by the way. I have a few best friends and crowds of others which I would generally not classify at all, but if pushed could probably make a continuum of them!
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It seems that Karen Rivers is an American writer, so as a Brit I'd not even try to guess what she means when she has her character talk about "best-ish friends".

    If it were a British novelist's invented word, I'd imagine (but still I would be guessing) that it was the girl's closest friends - but that she didn't really have any very close friends.

    Edit: If I wanted to say that in an adult way, I might say: "They are what pass for my best friends." or "They would be my best friends, if I had any best friends."
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Although I named the source, I didn't name it carefully enough. :oops:
    The line under discussion is a quotation of a review of the book, originally printed in the School Library Journal. :oops:

    So this is would be a librarian's description of the heroine's friends. I'm fairly sure that the -ish is meant to dilute the claim that they are best friends, but not to imply they are not her friends at all.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    Fascinating. I agree withe Ewie that there is definitely something... equivocal about bestish. (I am rather proud of myself for not using equivocalish. :)) But bestish friend definitely would in AmE imply that they are people you feel close to or at least spend a lot of time with. But you definitely have more reservations about your bestish friends that you do about your best friends.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    As noted by Cagey, the topic sentence is not written by Karen Rivers (who according to abcbookworld.com is Canadian, by the way) but by a reviewer of Karen Rivers book "The Cure for Crushes" (2005). On Rivers' website is a list of her works with abstracts. This is from the abstract of "The Cure for Crushes" (my bolding):
    This follow-up to The Healing Time of Hickeys covers the second half of hapless Haley Andromeda Harmony’s last year of high school. [...] From bungee jumping in winter to supporting best friend Jules at auditions for the TV show “Who's the Prettiest of Them All?” Haley’s TGMYL 2 (“the greatest year of my life, part two”) — recorded as diary entries channeled through award-winning author Karen Rivers — has more than its fair share of misadventures.
    Although it would seem likely, we can't say for sure that Rivers is the author of the abstract. (Referring to oneself in third person may be done in a context such as this.) But if she is not, she ought to have approved of it, and whoever wrote it must have read the book and interpreted "bestish", as used to describe the friendship with Jules, to mean something not very different from "best", or else "best" would have been enclosed by scare quotes.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Best-ish" is similar to "best" as "9-ish" is similar to "9:00". Whatever it means, it almost certainly doesn't mean what the original meant. :) If I say I'll be there at 9-ish you can probably count on the fact I won't be there exactly at 9:00. If I say "he's my best-ish friend" you can pretty much count on the fact he is something other than my best friend.

    What that "something other" is in this case might call for reading the entire book in order to discover.
     
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