Inconfident or Unconfident ?!?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Sanuka, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. Sanuka Member

    India - Hindi
    I always thought the opposite of 'confident' was 'inconfident'. However, when I type this word, it's indicated incorrect. What's the correct word ?

    I've never heard of 'UNconfident'!
  2. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    American English
    Antonyms of adj confident

    3 senses of confident
    Sense 1:
    confident (vs. diffident)
    diffident (vs. confident), shy, timid, unsure

    Sense 2:
    convinced(predicate), positive(predicate), confident(predicate)
    INDIRECT (VIA certain, sure) -> uncertain, unsure, incertain
    INDIRECT (VIA certain, sure) -> uncertain, unsure, incertain

    Sense 3:
    confident, surefooted, sure-footed
    INDIRECT (VIA capable) -> incapable

    Not an inconfident or unconfident among them. :)
  3. Sanuka Member

    India - Hindi
    That's very helpful! Thanks a million.
  4. ianmill Senior Member

    You can say that someone lacks confidence, or is lacking in confidence, about him/herself.

    You can also say have no confidence in - eg I have no confidence in ianmill to answer my question properly. Or I am not confident that ianmill .....
  5. Sanuka Member

    India - Hindi
    Thanks ianmill!

    Yes, to use 'I have no confidence...' in your example sounds good.

    However, in a sentence like, 'When I started the search for some of the cars you suggested, I felt terribly uncertain!!', where an adverb precedes the adjective, I'd use a synonym or an antonym of the word 'confident'.

    Am I right ?!?
  6. ianmill Senior Member

    Your sentence 'When I started the search for some of the cars you suggested, I felt terribly uncertain' is fine.
  7. Sanuka Member

    India - Hindi
    Thanks ianmill.
  8. JohnRofls New Member

    English - United States

    Not sure why, but the level of confidence used in insisting unconfident isn't a word kind of bothered me. Okay, it made my blood boil. So I'm going to revive this post regardless of how old it is because this is listed way too high in the Google search listing for blatant misinformation to be the last word. For whatever reason it seems as if the word unconfident didn't make it to spell check dictionaries, but it is most certainly listed as a word in both Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries. Also it means something specific and different from either incapable, uncertain, or unsure. Commonly: "Not confident; hesitant."

    Just because doesn't specifically list it as an antonym doesn't imply it isn't a word. ;)
  9. Sanuka Member

    India - Hindi
    Sure, I agree with you - just because the word does not exist in dictionaries, does not necessarily mean that it is not a word. It maybe non-standard, but not incorrect! However, when it comes to teaching 'correct' English, teaching or introducing the word 'inconfident or unconfident' could raise a few eyebrows, could be misleading which could lead to debates (losing job!), which again should not be an issue as language is forever evolving!
  10. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    Why should your blood boil? "Unconfident" is in the OED. The entry hasn't been updared since 1989. The most recent example of its use dates from 1871. It's not a current word in modern English. Copyright didn't say it didn't exist, he just pointed out its lack of currency. Anybody learning English would be ill-advised to use it. A native speaker using it would be thought odd.

    PS "inconfident" is in the OED also, but that dates back to the 17th century.
  11. Sanuka Member

    India - Hindi
    Aha, good to know that these words do exist! Thank you Andygc
  12. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    Exist? No, existed.
  13. JohnRofls New Member

    English - United States
    o_O? Existed? No, they still exist. It's very much so a present tense scenario. I've yet to find a dictionary list the word as archaic, and words, once commonly used, never cease to exist. Past tense is never appropriate for describing the existence of any word. ;-) Though I'm sure your comment was intended purely to annoy. Also I'm surprised a post from 2010 actually got same day replies. Kudos to this board for that.
  14. JohnRofls New Member

    English - United States
    Also if you bother to browse the internet, the word is still used more frequently than you'd imagine. Also, your logic and facts are seriously flawed AndyGC. I'm quite confident I've read published material utilizing the word published within the decade. Furthermore, no native English speaking individual would be confused as to what unconfident means.

    It is a word. It's not archaic. People understand its usage, << --- comment deleted --- >>. At the end of the day, mission accomplished from my end. The facts are present and now native speakers who Google the word won't be presented with one side. That is all.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  15. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    Welcome to the forum, JohnRofls. :)

    Not that I didn't believe you when you said that you had seen the word, but I checked in the corpuses. In COCA it occurs 13 times and in the BNC it occurs 11 times. There are over 2,500 hits in Google Books (US), ranging from 1820 to 2000 (the majority between 1930 and 2000).

    I must admit that I was surprised to find as many hits as these, since I don't ever recall seeing the word.
    I wouldn't use it myself. but that is no doubt partly due to my unfamiliarity with it.

    << --- comment deleted --- >> :) (unless they are deleted by a moderator, that is!)
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2014
  16. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    Interesting, e2efour. I ran the ngram with various alternatives and was also surprised to see what came up there. It is still not common, but seems to be used increasingly. Even more surprisingly, if you alter the search criteria, you'll find that the increased frequency is greater in BE than AE. That is remarkable, given that we both have a BE background, and neither of us is familiar with it. I also looked at Google Books, and had the impression that a very high proportion of the examples came from technical and scientific publications, particularly in psychology, social sciences and related topics.

    I'll withdraw my comment that it existed rather than exists, but I still find it sounds odd, I doubt I'll use it and I'd advise a learner to avoid it in conversation or general writing. I have, of course, never suggested that its meaning is not immediately apparent to English speakers, so we can leave this straw man where we found him:
  17. JohnRofls New Member

    English - United States
    Interestingly, in my writing, I find myself naturally using spelling and words more common in BE than AE, despite the fact that I grew up in southern USA. Perhaps it's all the English folk I fraternize with in my world travels?
  18. kailani New Member

    British English
    I am glad this has had a more recent string of replies as I do have a point to make about this, as JohnRofls considers that "Furthermore, no native English speaking individual would be confused as to what unconfident means."

    I came here looking for answers because I was taught at school that it was 'inconfident' and being Autistic I have very little perception of anything between right and wrong, what is right isn't wrong, and what is wrong isn't right. Confusion is a very real possibility if someone is dyslexic, Autistic or in any another other way have a learning disability JohnRofls.

    What that means is that when I write a word that I was shown to be correct in my school days and now apparently does not exist thanks to the world of Google, it makes me very upset as I find it very difficult to accept my language is being changed, and change for any Autistic person is difficult to deal with. Inconfident is used commonly in the UK and as far as I know is still taught in schools to this day, so why when I type into the Google search box it doesn't appear, that is the real issue for anyone who is reading this, the word still has currency and should still be recognised.
  19. Susan Y Senior Member

    British English
    Well, that's interesting, kailani (and welcome to the forum, by the way!). I have been speaking British English, my native language, for the best part of sixty years (most of that time spent in the UK). This includes twenty-five years as a teacher of English, and I have NEVER come across the word "inconfident"!

    The word unconfident, on the other hand, is well-known to me, and is a word I use myself, although I think I would tend to spell it un-confident.

    I'm not saying that the word "inconfident" doesn't exist. Simply that it is very rare.

    PS It isn't only autistic people that don't like language changing. I'm afraid it is a fact of life that language changes, but I actually don't think that is the issue here.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2014
  20. kailani New Member

    British English
    Hello there....62 years, maybe it was my secondary education then :)

    I was definitely taught 'inconfident' and so were my siblings as this has been much discussion since I brought it up with them. Perhaps it has been a regional issue, I am in the south of England, Hampshire. There has to be a reason for this anomaly and speaking recently to a friend in Canada, they too were of the same opinion.

    The point I was making about Autistic people and language changing is very pertinent, because everything has to be precise, accurate, exact and if its not, we find that difficult to deal with, therefore when a word like this comes up that me an mine have been taught in school, have evidence from others and we are now being told it has never been used that now takes this to a different level altogether.

    This has to be a regional derivation, that must be the only logical answer, everyone I know agrees that inconfident is how they write and say this word, have I time/dimension shifted or something?
  21. Susan Y Senior Member

    British English
    Interesting, I am from Hampshire myself - Bournemouth (which was in Hants when I was born) , and then Winchester.

    All I was saying was that I, personally, have never encountered the word inconfident - at least, not as far as I recall. I am not doubting your experience, just saying that mine is different. I agree it is odd, given that we have similar backgrounds, although you are probably much younger than me! Just shows how diverse our language is, I suppose.
  22. kailani New Member

    British English
    No, not younger.......62, I'm not worried about my age being known :)

    Yes Bournemouth was indeed in Hampshire, and still is legally. Indeed, Southamptonshire (County of Southampton) still exists too because the politicians cannot change the ancient Laws set out in the Doomsday Book. The change to Hampshire only took place as late as 1959 and legal documents still carry the title County of Southampton, even though the city is a unitary authority. Southampton remains a City and the County Borough.

    Back to the a prefix in- not and un- expressing negation before adjectives and as both words (in)confident and (un)confident do not appear to be mentioned in any dictionary I own, I can only conclude that in our cobbled and collected together language that either will be acceptable. After all, inconsistent is correct, unconsistent isn't but that would be a similar comparison :)

Share This Page