Is “positivity” a real word?

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Photo by PDPics from Pixabay

I was writing a social media post the other day that included the word “positivity,” and I noticed the infamous red spell-check line under the word. I was confident that it was spelled correctly, but I typed it into Google to double-check.

To my surprise, I instantly saw results that argued if positivity is a real word or not. After a mini panic attack at the thought that I could have been using a “fake” word for years, I discovered an article from Merriam-Webster acknowledging positivity as a real word and its history of use in writing for more than 350 years.

Even though I was new to this argument, I quickly realized that ‘negativity’ doesn’t get the same kind of scrutiny even though it is the same result of adding the “-ivity” suffix to a word.

So, why do people argue against “positivity” as a word but accept “negativity” without any questions?

It simply comes down to it not being recognized in spell-check programs. We tend to associate words with being incorrect when we see that red line and stray away from using it (what I fell victim to but was later reassured that is was safe to use). Another reason is that some see the word as jargon from the self-help movement.

Through this small grammar battle, I was reminded that Merriam-Webster doesn’t rely on spell-check to decide when to include a word and neither should you. Also, with over 300 years of evidence supporting positivity’s widespread use, rest assured that it is “worthy of being defined.”

Autumn Jarrett
Autumn Jarrett
Originally from Illinois, Autumn currently resides in Tempe. In her spare time, you will find her taking weekend trips with her friends, shopping or binge watching her favorite shows. Check out Autumn's complete bio here.

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