OPINIONATED: “conceitedly assertive and dogmatic in one’s opinions: an arrogant and opinionated man.” —New Oxford American Dictionary

Sometimes lexicides say more than they mean to. People who insist on verbiage probably prefer excessive wordiness to succinct copy. People who brag about their simplistic solutions are most likely telling more truth than they intend. So it often is with opinionated.

Many people use opinionated to mean “having strong opinions,” with positive connotations. For example, I found a San Francisco Chronicle headline that promised “an opinionated look at the year’s top ten health stories.” More recently, a story in the Puget Sound Business Journal profiled a female CEO who was “sharp, opinionated, ambitious and deeply insightful about both leadership and business.” Perhaps the Chronicle believes that bashing Bush and drug companies is a virtue (hmmm…), but really, these uses of opinionated may reveal more about the authors than they intend. Is the Chronicle a dogmatic manifesto? Does the Puget Sound Business Journal writer think any powerful woman with strong opinions is arrogant and conceited? Again, hmmm…

Don’t make others wonder about your motives. Stay away from opinionated unless you mean what it means — overbearing and unmoving in offering opinions. If my advice makes me opinionated, then so be it.

Otto E. Mezzo


One thought on “Opinionated”

  1. I think they are using the word in a self-depricating and tongue-in-cheek manner, at least in the Chronicle article. They don’t really believe that they are arrogant in holding their own opinions. And who would? So clearly, this is joshing hyperbole not meant to be taken at face value.

    The use of “opinionated” in the PSBJ article is slightly different. I would call it the opposite of a back-handed compliment. I guess one could call it a back-handed insult, or perhaps a disguised compliment. The PSBJ does not believe that saying someone bashing Bush and large drug companies is a virtue, at least directly. But by using the word “opinionated” in this manner, the article is indicating that it has knowledge that some people do believe that, and just maybe, they are among those people. But, maybe not. They’re not saying.

    This is the same pussyfooting, faux-objective nonsense that takes place when somebody refers to some hateful jerk as “controversial.”

    We can’t call out the Fred Phelps clan as a bunch of haters, don’t you know, because we are journalists, and we must remain objective! But we can indicate that OTHER people, like oh, say, 99% of the population, think they are vile. That’s okay.

    I guess the state of journalism today is slightly off-topic here, but I do find this silly.

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