Poll: Disbenefit


Good word
Acceptable word
Bad word
Weasel word

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This Poll:

  • Votes: 1,382
  • Comments: 22
  • Added: October 2005



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.




@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 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..


I would agree with Anna and K above - there are other words that are synonymous with disbenefit - a word I've found to be consistently used in policy settings. This is the inherent annoyance of the word, truthfully - that I hadn't run into it until I'd commenced work in policy, a sector rife with stupid jargon. Why not simply say drawback or disadvantage? It's proscriptive grammar, but in any case the word is a word. An appalling word that no one outside this arena uses, but a word nonetheless.


A silly invented word whose sole purpose seems to me to be for the aggrandizement of the writer. Completely unnecessary and with the English language being as nuanced and capable as it is this frippery should be expunged forthwith.

John O

What a bullshit word. A pure euphemism obviously invented to avoid use of the negative term "disadvantage" it's tantamount to using "ungood" instead of "bad". Doublespeak nonsense.

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