Well-behaved doctor/physician.

rabz12

Senior Member
Urdu
I just came across with a this sentence on a recommendation letter of a young doctor by senior doctor.

"John is well-behaved young practicing physician who takes keen interest in his work"

I was wondering if we can use this term "well-behaved" in the above context because normally people use this term for children and animals. can we use it for a doctor?
 
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  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I agree. It sounds odd to me in this context. I would assume that anyone who works as a doctor is reasonably well-behaved, at least as far as his or her work goes. Perhaps the senior doctor knows some who are not?
     

    rabz12

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    I agree. It sounds odd to me in this context. I would assume that anyone who works as a doctor is reasonably well-behaved, at least as far as his or her work goes. Perhaps the senior doctor knows some who are not?
    That's exactly what came into my mind. I guess well-mannered is the right word to use in this context in place of "well-behaved" do you agree?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Perhaps you could tell us more about the writer of the letter, rabz12?

    From a quick google, it seems that "well-behaved" is sometimes used in Indian English to mean "courteous": for example, I found the following comment (posted by someone from Gurgaon, India) on a hotel in Jaipur:
    “Good atmosphere and well behaved staff”
    [...]
    Nice budget hotel to stay. Staffs are really friendly and helpful.
     

    rabz12

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    @Loob

    Basically, It's a recommendation letter. The writer is the senior doctor who is recommending a junior doctor/physician, who practices independently, for a foreign scholarship. They might have used this word to show that someone is polite and courteous and would easily adjust himself in any environment. Wouldn't there be other words, I wonder? Why to use 'Well-behaved'.:/

    It's not this letter only, I have seen it written on many recommendation letters and certificates of highly skilled professionals.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    ...
    It's not this letter only, I have seen it written on many recommendation letters and certificates of highly skilled professionals.
    Well, it would be unusual - and rather confusing:( - in British English, rabz.

    If you've seen it in letters/certificates written by speakers of Indian English, then I expect, as I said, that the equivalent in BrE would be "courteous":).
     

    MikeLynn

    Senior Member
    Well, it might be common in Indian English, but the American Oxford Dictionary I have on my Mac gives these synonyms for well-behaved: orderly, obedient, disciplined, peaceable, docile, controlled, restrained,cooperative, compliant, law-abiding; mannerly, polite, civil, courteous, respectful, proper, decorous, refined, polished, so I'm afraid it's not just an Indian thing.
    M&L
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Yes, but well-behaved is usually used in contexts where there is some control involved. "The peace demonstrators were well-behaved" or "The children were well-behaved even though they had a substitute teacher". It has to do with a situation where there is some standard of behavior that must be lived up to or there will be consequences, to my way of thinking.

    I wouldn't say to another adult "My, you are well-behaved!" It wouldn't mean courteous, refined, polished. It would sound condescending, as if I were speaking to a child on an outing of some kind, and implying that he or she might get a treat if he continues to behave well. Another way to paraphrase "well-behaved", to me, would be "not being a nuisance/bother or disruptive."
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    ... so I'm afraid it's not just an Indian thing.
    M&L
    Well, yes and no, M&L:).

    The 'synonyms' you list don't have identical meanings: there are very few words in English which are completely synonymous. And we do usually use "well-behaved" for children, as rabz says.

    That said, the OED gives several older BrE quotes for "well-behaved" in which we would normally, today, use something like "decorous" or "courteous". And I'm sure we've found before that Indian English often reflects usages which are no longer current in BrE.

    Whatever the reasons, I wouldn't myself use "well-behaved" in a letter of recommendation....

    Added: cross-posted with James, with whom I agree:).
     

    MikeLynn

    Senior Member
    Thank you JamesM for your post and the explanation how this "synonym" works in a "real-life" context :) Now I remember that I usually heard it used for kids and their behavior or manners.
    M&L
     

    MikeLynn

    Senior Member
    Thank you, Loob for your contribution. Now I remember that I used to hear it when the topic was a child, and maybe even a dog :confused: ? Would well-behaved be okay and idiomatic if used for a dog and his/her behavior, or manners? Thank you
    M&L
    P.S. This is exactly why using a Thesaurus can get really tricky if you are not a native speaker because as you wrote, Loob, not all synonyms are synonymous in every possible context :(
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    ... Would well-behaved be okay and idiomatic if used for a dog and his/her behavior, or manners? ...
    Oh yes, you could certainly use "well-behaved" for a dog, M&L:thumbsup:.

    My dogs are usually pretty well-behaved - except when the girl-dog tries to bite the postman:rolleyes:.
     
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