Unsubmissive (Adjective)

James Brandon

Senior Member
English + French - UK
In "Lady Chatterley's Lover", D H Lawrence uses the adj. "unsubmissive" to refer to a character who is not submissive, i.e. who is not servile. Interestingly, the Oxford Concise Dictionary (OCD) does not list the word but gives near-equivalent terms such as "rebellious", "refractory" or "unsubdued".

Would you say the adj. is commonly used and correct, or not? I do not think I have seen it or heard it that often at all.

Thanks for suggestions.
 
  • manon33

    Senior Member
    English - England (Yorkshire)
    In "Lady Chatterley's Lover", D H Lawrence uses the adj. "unsubmissive" to refer to a character who is not submissive, i.e. who is not servile. Interestingly, the Oxford Concise Dictionary (OCD) does not list the word but gives near-equivalent terms such as "rebellious", "refractory" or "unsubdued".

    Would you say the adj. is commonly used and correct, or not? I do not think I have seen it or heard it that often at all.

    Thanks for suggestions.
    No, I've never head or read it. I think it is an odd word to use, since semantically it seems to embody a kind of double negative. (Submissive = submitting = not asserting oneself; unsubmissive = not not asserting oneself)

    DHL could be a bit patchy in terms of linguistic precision.
     

    johndot

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If the OCD doesn’t list unsubmissive, where do the ‘near-equivalent terms’ come from?

    It is, however, listed by dictionary.com: unservile
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    The equivalent terms I was referring to can be inferred from the obvious meaning of 'unsubmissive'. (In fact, I double-checked via the French term 'insoumis', but did not mention it since it is an all-English forum.:))

    As indicated, a web search shows that it is featured in Webster's. Maybe it is more AE than BE? But obviously DHL was British, not American...
     

    manon33

    Senior Member
    English - England (Yorkshire)
    Maybe it is more AE than BE? But obviously DHL was British, not American...
    I don't think he would even have seen himself as British, so much as English, and definitely not as influenced by American English. Any study of his lexicon will reveal that he was given to indulging in some rather convoluted forms of expression at times. Which is surprising, for a novelist who was also a poet.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    I just checked Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, and found that while it did not have an entry for unsubmissive, it did have one for insubmissive, defined as "unwilling to submit."
     

    James Brandon

    Senior Member
    English + French - UK
    In the OCD, neither "insubmissive" nor "unservile" are listed, interestingly enough. "Unsubdued" does not quite do it, since you may be "unsubdued" because you have never been subdued, whereas "unsubmissive" would clearly point towards an attitude of rejecting submission, nevertheless less pronounced and assertive than the word "rebellious" or "refractory" would appear to mean.

    In other words, if "unsubmissive" does not exist (at any rate according to the OCD, and I can say I have never come across it outside DHL's prose), it would need to be invented (or accepted - since it appears to be featured in various dictionaries, and not only on line).

    Regarding DHL being British as opposed to American, Manon, I was not dwelling on DHL's (subjective) perception of what he was but on the (objective) fact of where he was brought up, lived, etc.
     
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