2016-12-09

Missing Vocabulary I: sweeping under the rug

Alas, my idiolect requires a word that does not exist. I tried to coin a word for it, but failed, and ultimately concluded that since other people don't seem to need it, it's not important enough to coin one.

The concept is underemphasizing something that deserves emphasis in response to an incentive to do so. People respond to incentives whether consciously or not, and a very common felt incentive is to win an argument, so people very seldom think of relevant things that would undercut their argument.

People don't always do this on purpose, and they usually do it unaware, but it's a culpable mistake, one that does real harm, and so the word should have negative connotations and some associated social pressure to admit the mistake.
Originally published December 12, 2015

When I first tried to coin it, I wrote: The definition is pretty simple. The word will mean, "possibly deliberately (but possibly just by negligence) sweeping something under the rug" or "wrongfully understating/underestimating the importance of something"

Some rejected candidates:
  • discount
  • omit
  • neglect
  • disregard
  • ignore
  • paper over
  • overlook
  • underlook
"Shoving under the rug" has the right connotations and means what I want it to mean, but is simply too long.

People usually ask for examples of where I'd use the word. I have frequent want for it, so I'm sure I'll think of more and add them, but for now I can only think of one:
  • "If you think living forever conditioning on continuing forever to want to live would be great, you're _____ the distinction between *wanting* and *enjoying*."
"Sweeping the distinction between wanting and enjoying under the rug" is a very awkward phrase.

As of December 9, 2016, I'm going with "gloss over" for the time being.

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