Poll: Disbenefit


Good word
Acceptable word
Bad word
Weasel word

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This Poll:

  • Votes: 1,028
  • Comments: 19
  • Added: October 2005

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In Town Planning sense, dis-benefit has the sense stronger and more direct than " defect" or "shortcoming" but weaker than "adverse impact". For example, a car park has adverse impact on the traffic flow but disbenefit to the air. Nevertheless, "disbenefit " is somehow not commonly use in daily language.


This is not a word that appears in the recognised shorter dictionaries and is not a word that I or my wife (who is very well read) had come across in our combined 95 years on the planet, until it appeared in a local government consultation document about proposed town planning changes. If it is in regular use by town planners, it suggests that they live on a different planet from the men on the streets they purport to plan.


good / bad or better / worse. There are plenty of better words to show negativity.

Stephen B. Cohen

Used in Benefit Analysis: For example, a new, limited-access highway may benefit the highway's users, but may disbenefit the businesses that were along the old highway.


In my long life in the home of English I cannot remember a time when this word was not used! It is an elegant contrast with benefit

Laurence and Richard

Disbenefit is the proper term used in economic analysis to mean the opposite of benefit


It is a technical term from welfare economics and public policy analysis. When the government spends money (costs) on a project, there are impacts. These are called "benefits" if they are positive and "disbenefits" if they are negative. The term "disbenefit" was chosen in contrast to "cost" to make a distinction between what you spend and what you get. Outside of technical usage, "disbenefit" can sound contrite and should be avoided.


The proper antonyms to benefit should be drawback or handicap. I suppose I'm not against evoluation of English just the needless creation of words when sufficiently precise terms already exist.


I came across this website as I am currently writing a technical piece where I used the word ‘disbenefit’. To my initial confusion, Word 2007 immediately flagged it as being spelt wrong, even though I was pretty sure it was a commonly used word.

This is my sentence:

‘This needs to be weighed up against the disbenifit this arrangement can have on cyclists’.

The only other suitable word I can this of is ‘disadvantage’; nothing else seems to fit.

So considering this alternative also has ‘dis’ at the beginning, I don’t see a problem with disbenefit.


In respeonse to ‘Williams’ (4th March 2007 23:55)

For someone with such a vast experience In English, perhaps you should try:

‘My wife and I’, followed by getting your tenses right. I’m sure that the fact that you have written you statement shows that you are not dead.


@Matt: the problem is that you have spelt 'disbenifit' (sic) wrongly.


Matt - that was not a very nice response, especially as your sentence 'written you statement' should have said 'written your statement'.


Matt - Not to mention that "respeonse" is an unusual spelling for "response".


I have just come across this word and thought it made up. I think it is dreadful, disadvantage should be used instead. I googled disbenefit and found that it was first used in the U S in 1968, that says it all really.


Guys, it's a word. The purpose of words is to explain a concept or meaning and 'Disbenefits' does just that. I cannot see how you can derive an incorrect meaning from it, it is fairly simple 'dis-' 'benefit'. It representation does not mean the same thing as 'disadvantage' because an 'advantage' and a 'benefit' have slightly different meanings, hence the reason why there are two words.
I would think critically about the site that says the word was first used in 1968, my Grandmother was using the word in the 1920s along with 'non-benefit' and 'ill-vantage' though they too were uncommon. What it may be referring to is the oldest known use of the word in literature, but if it has been considered an improper use of a prefix then it may not have appeared in literature as much as the less regulated spoken word.
Instead of viewing words as rules for social regulation to be corrected in those who deviate from what a minority see as the 'correct' way, view words as tools to communicate for one another successfully. If it achieves its goal of communicating the meaning, whether a word, expression or gesture, then it has done it has done its job and should not be judge as better or worst then a word that does the same, or in the case of 'disadvantage', slightly different.

Arlo James Barnes

I agree with K - a word and it's usage are different things, and should be dealt with accordingly. The only problem I have with "communicates it's meaning" is that there may be competing meanings. So it is important that people know the nuances in meaning between disbenefit and it's alternatives (some mentioned in previous comments): disadvantage (disvantage?), drawback, handicap, defect, shortcoming, adverse impact, or my favorite, detriment. What you want to use the word for will affect how appropriate each choice is. It seems the contexts disbenefit is best suited to are those relating to legal discussions like city planning.

Anna Crabtree

What an appalling word 'disbenefit' is! What;'s wrong with 'drawback' or 'disadvantage'. If I am not in receipt of state benefit but paying tax, can I class this as a disbenefit?

Mr K

I use this word with great reluctance and find myself continually looking for validation that the word is indeed acceptable to use in everyday language and documentation. Language never remains static – I wonder how the Angles reacted to the introduction of Old Norse and propagation of Norman French into their everyday language. Regardless of how the Angles reacted, the inevitable product was the English language that continues to evolve in an ever evolving world and a mixing of global cultures.

I thought ol’ Bill Shakespeare invented a few words in his time that the English speaking world has since embraced. I doubt there is a single internet user today that does not know what ‘Google it’ means? I think there’s a shared understanding of its meaning. Nobody owns a language. There may be rules that govern correct usage of words however we also know that every language has a quirk or anomaly.

There is a benefit and no benefit. There is belief and no belief. There is colour and no colour. There is advantage and no advantage. There is disbelief, discolour, and disadvantage yet there is no disbenefit. Fancy that.


I like it, but using it in a professional context means I am worried about being judged for poor English by people who have never heard it used..

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