Deceptively

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J. Action
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Deceptively

Postby J. Action » Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:40 am UTC

Say a pool is shallow but appears deep. Is it deceptively shallow or deceptively deep.
Jeez, deceptive is so deceptive.

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Owehn
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Owehn » Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:45 am UTC

It's my understanding that "deceptively" is used both ways, so if you're going for precision the word is best avoided.
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Re: Deceptively

Postby steewi » Thu Feb 21, 2008 1:54 am UTC

Definitely "deceptively shallow" by my thinking, but I hear both.

Same for condoning stuff.

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4=5
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Re: Deceptively

Postby 4=5 » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:31 am UTC

deceptively shallow, (I recommend this because deceptively deep means that it IS deep but doesn't look like it)
maybe because it's more important to let people know what it actually is then to have them see what you saw.

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Mystify
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Mystify » Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:01 am UTC

I would say that it is deceptively shallow, as it is trying to decieve you into thinking that it's not. If it was deceptively deep, that means that it was deep, but trying to decieve you otherwise. That's the way I read it anyway.

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Waterhouse
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Waterhouse » Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:33 pm UTC

... Someone is wrong on the internet!

I respectfully disagree with all of you.

Neither use is correct. Deceptively should be used to describe a true quality which is yet deceptive. A puddle that is deceptively deep is truly deep but the quality of being deep causes confusion about it's true nature; however, in the example, the puddle is not truly deep so it would be incorrect to say that it is. Likewise a deceptively shallow puddle is truly shallow but being shallow causes confusion in some way.

I don't think that the given example is a good use of the term. A better example of the right situation to use it would be if the edge of puddle was shallow, but it became deep further in. In that situation one might say, "The edge of the puddle was deceptively shallow."

Or one might say of a facetious person, "He was deceptively friendly." It's true that he behaved in a friendly manner, but that quality belied his true nature.

"The start of the journey was deceptively trouble-free."

Etc.

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4=5
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Re: Deceptively

Postby 4=5 » Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:51 am UTC

Waterhouse wrote:... Someone is wrong on the internet!

I respectfully disagree with all of you.

Neither use is correct. Deceptively should be used to describe a true quality which is yet deceptive. A puddle that is deceptively deep is truly deep but the quality of being deep causes confusion about it's true nature; however, in the example, the puddle is not truly deep so it would be incorrect to say that it is. Likewise a deceptively shallow puddle is truly shallow but being shallow causes confusion in some way.

umm... that's what we all said

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Re: Deceptively

Postby Waterhouse » Sat Feb 23, 2008 8:12 am UTC

'Fraid not.

Firstly, you didn't all say the same things:

The original question, by J.Action, was how to word the idea that something was shallow but seemed deep using the word "deceptively."

The first reply, from Owehn, said that it could be either "deceptively shallow," or "deceptively deep," but that either usage is ambiguous and should therefore be avoided.

Next, Steewi offered, "Definitely deceptively shallow."

You agreed with Steewi.

Mystify concurred.

To sum up, so far, up to that point in the thread, there had been:
-A question about which of two ways was best to use the word.
-An answer suggesting that both were acceptable (but ambiguous).
-Three more posters agreeing on one usage, i.e.; deceptively shallow.

I disagreed with all replies because I don't think that any of those usages are correct. Not only did I not agree with anyone, but not all of the replies agreed with one another (take a closer look at the first reply to the original post).

Apparently I failed to sufficiently explain my point of view so as to make it understood to you.

Deceptively is an adverb modifying the verb to be in this discussion. One should be able to make a statement with or without that adverb and still have the statement be true. If the puddle is shallow, then it isn't correct to say that it's "deceptively deep." So that usage is out. But neither is it correct to say that it's "deceptively shallow," because it's being shallow didn't deceive you. What deceived you was that it appeared to be deep.

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Re: Deceptively

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Feb 23, 2008 3:34 pm UTC

No, "deceptively" in this case is an adverb modifying the adjective "deep" or "shallow". Furthermore, regardless of what you think logic *should* dictate, the fact is that in actual English usage, "deceptively shallow" is the correct phrase here. It is really shallow, but it is so in some way that deceives the viewer into thinking otherwise.
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Waterhouse » Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:24 pm UTC

Can you provide an example of that usage?

[edit:]
From American Heritage Dictionary
Usage Note: When deceptively is used to modify an adjective, the meaning is often unclear. Does the sentence The pool is deceptively shallow mean that the pool is shallower or deeper than it appears? When the Usage Panel was asked to decide, 50 percent thought the pool shallower than it appears, 32 percent thought it deeper than it appears, and 18 percent said it was impossible to judge. Thus a warning notice worded in such a way would be misinterpreted by many of the people who read it, and others would be uncertain as to which sense was intended. Where the context does not make the meaning of deceptively clear, the sentence should be rewritten, as in The pool is shallower than it looks or The pool is shallow, despite its appearance.

[emphasis mine]

Agreed that the adverb modifies the adjective (deep or shallow), not the verb to be; however, AHD seems agree with me that neither usage suggested by the OP is correct.

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Owehn
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Owehn » Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:49 pm UTC

How about "He broke his teeth diving into the deceptively shallow pool"? Or "My new home is a deceptively spacious flat"? Either of those sentences contains "deceptively" in the usage gmalivuk described.
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Waterhouse
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Waterhouse » Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:56 pm UTC

Sorry. What I meant was "Can you provide any examples from established/accepted sources or commentary/style-guides?"

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Owehn
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Owehn » Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:10 pm UTC

Here's what American Heritage says on the subject: (Edit, I see you've found this already.)
When deceptively is used to modify an adjective, the meaning is often unclear. Does the sentence The pool is deceptively shallow mean that the pool is shallower or deeper than it appears? When the Usage Panel was asked to decide, 50 percent thought the pool shallower than it appears, 32 percent thought it deeper than it appears, and 18 percent said it was impossible to judge. Thus a warning notice worded in such a way would be misinterpreted by many of the people who read it, and others would be uncertain as to which sense was intended. Where the context does not make the meaning of deceptively clear, the sentence should be rewritten, as in The pool is shallower than it looks or The pool is shallow, despite its appearance.


Here's what "Common Errors in English" by Paul Brians says:
If you say of a soldier that he is “deceptively brave” you might be understood to mean that although he appears cowardly he is actually brave, or that although he appears brave he is actually cowardly. This ambiguity should cause you to be very careful about using “deceptive” and “deceptively” to make clear which meaning you intend.


As far as using the word "deceptively" in actual speech, how about a book called "Deceptively Delicious"? (It describes how to make healthy snacks and things, i.e. foods that are delicious but on a cursory inspection of the ingredients might seem otherwise.) Or for the opposite usage, how about Arnold Palmer's quote that "Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated"?

I highly doubt you'll find a reputable style guide recommending any of these usages for "deceptively", for precisely the reasons already mentioned. That doesn't change the fact that people do use the word in all these different ways. (So ultimately, if one describes a pool as "deceptively shallow" without any clarification, deciding whether to call it "incorrect" or "bad style" is a matter of semantics. If you're going for precision in the context described by the OP, "deceptive" should be avoided because it is ambiguous.)
Last edited by Owehn on Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:26 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Waterhouse » Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:22 pm UTC

Sounds like AHD and Mr. Brians agree that it's required for one to "make clear which meaning [one] intend[s]." So it's not correct to simply say, "The pool was deceptively shallow", but it is correct to say, "He broke his teeth diving into the deceptively shallow pool."

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Owehn
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Owehn » Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:31 pm UTC

I think what we may be getting hung up on is the difference between being incorrect and having bad style. (I put this in my previous post, but not before you replied.) I would personally say that "The pool is deceptively shallow" is not grammatically incorrect, since the ambiguity could be removed in the context of its neighboring sentences. However, leaving the sentence alone is bad style, since it doesn't effectively convey whatever meaning was intended.

Anyway, I'm glad we finally reached an agreement.
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Waterhouse » Sat Feb 23, 2008 6:36 pm UTC

Well said.

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J. Action
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Re: Deceptively

Postby J. Action » Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:45 pm UTC

Thank you for all of your advice. I now believe that deceptively should not be used in either of my originally used contexts.

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Re: Deceptively

Postby ZLVT » Mon Feb 25, 2008 2:50 pm UTC

Well it might though. 'deceptively' is an adverb describing "is" so the sentence "the pool is deceptively shallow" would mean:

"The pool has a shallowness quality, the expression of which is deceptive" so the sentence is correct as long as the adjective does in fact correctly describe the subject.

I think the question we need to answer is: "Can an inanimate object be inherently decpetive, or does deception require malice?"

Also, we need a word meaning "appearing to be, in spite of reality." Allowing the sentence "The pool was [new word]ly deep" to mean that the pool was in fact a kiddie pool.
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Sour Apple » Tue Feb 26, 2008 1:57 am UTC

Waterhouse wrote:A puddle that is deceptively deep is truly deep but the quality of being deep causes confusion about it's true nature; however, in the example, [...]


I'm really ADD, so I can't concentrate on your pedantic words given your horrible use of punctuation. Do we really need to go back to elementary school to discuss apostrophes and semi-colons?

All right, back to deceptiveness. I personally think that it should be used for the sort of qualities you would find in something which are not necessarily true, but which lead you to take action based on what you BELIEVE is true. To use the first example: "I jumped into the deceptively deep pool and broke both my legs." Even that's not quite right, but it comes close enough.

How about... "He lulled me into a sense of deceptive security." You believe he's making you feel secure, but in fact the word deceptive here implies that he's planning something sinister and wants anything but your security.
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Waterhouse » Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:28 am UTC

Sour Apple wrote:
Waterhouse wrote:A puddle that is deceptively deep is truly deep but the quality of being deep causes confusion about it's true nature; however, in the example, [...]


I'm really ADD, so I can't concentrate on your pedantic words given your horrible use of punctuation. Do we really need to go back to elementary school to discuss apostrophes and semi-colons?

I'm sorry you don't care for my style. Your right about the apostrophe's though.

I apologize for all of my shortcomings.

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Re: Deceptively

Postby Sour Apple » Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:36 am UTC

Waterhouse wrote:
Sour Apple wrote:
Waterhouse wrote:A puddle that is deceptively deep is truly deep but the quality of being deep causes confusion about it's true nature; however, in the example, [...]


I'm really ADD, so I can't concentrate on your pedantic words given your horrible use of punctuation. Do we really need to go back to elementary school to discuss apostrophes and semi-colons?

I'm sorry you don't care for my style. Your right about the apostrophe's though.

I apologize for all of my shortcomings.


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jakkle
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Re: Deceptively

Postby jakkle » Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:44 pm UTC

ZLVT wrote:
Also, we need a word meaning "appearing to be, in spite of reality." Allowing the sentence "The pool was [new word]ly deep" to mean that the pool was in fact a kiddie pool.


Hmmm. Would a rewording of the sentence allow ostensibly - as in 'the ostensibly deep pool' ?
Having said that, i learned the word only a few days ago so it might not be entirely correct; however, i believe it could be understood in most situations.
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Re: Deceptively

Postby Sour Apple » Thu Mar 06, 2008 6:55 am UTC

So I had an epiphany as I was rushing (late, as usual) to class today, and trying not to fall on my ass on the slippery pavement:

"deceptively," I believe, is a word used to denote something which is TRUE, yet does not reveal the inherent danger in something. For example, "the pavement was deceptively clear, so Calire did not notice the ice until it was too late and she had fallen."
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