Hi, I'm a Dutch engineer, and one of my programs outputs a measure indicating how well something went. The measure is numerical, but it's also translated to an adjective. There is a list of fourteen, and it is supposed to be a staircase of ever better/worse qualifications, depending on the way you look. Undoubtedly there are some steps which do not really fit in there. I have my doubts about 'miserable' and 'wretched' for example, as these seem more descriptions of feeling than of judgment. Anyway, I am not a native speaker, and would be interested in improvements or even extensions to the list. Here it is.

perfect
exceptional
superior
excellent
good
acceptable
mediocre
poor
bad
lousy
miserable
awful
wretched
atrocious
Regards,
Stijn
1 2
Hi, I'm a Dutch engineer, and one of my programs outputs a measure indicating how well something went. The measure ... to the list. Here it is. perfect exceptional superior excellent good acceptable mediocre poor bad lousy miserable awful wretched atrocious

My first reaction: Your grading is far too complicated. Simplify it by reducing the 14 grades/steps to 7-8 at the most. How do these overlapping (near-synonymous) steps differ?
2 exceptional )
3 superior )> use only one of these adjectives
4 excellent )

and
8 poor )
9 bad )
10 lousy )> use only one of these adjectives
11 miserable )
12 awful )

Reinhold (Rey) Aman
Ex-Chemical Engineer
Stijn van Dongen wrote on 16 May 2004:
Hi, I'm a Dutch engineer, and one of my programs outputs a measure indicating how well something went. The measure ... to the list. Here it is. perfect exceptional superior excellent good acceptable mediocre poor bad lousy miserable awful wretched atrocious

All well and good, even if some of these gradings are redundant, but I know that they would annoy the hell out of me because of their imprecision. I think a number from 0-10 would do the job much better. You say that the measure *is* numerical, but you have too many numbers, I think. And instead of a single word, it would be much more interesting to provide a sentence. For example, the "0" would have to be something like "It didn't go at all, you loser", and the 10 could be something like "OOh! That was perfect!". You could come up with more interesting lines, I'm sure, because you know what the something that went or did not go is and we don't.

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Stijn van Dongen wrote on 16 May 2004:

perfect exceptional superior excellent good acceptable mediocre poor bad lousy miserable awful wretched atrocious

All well and good, even if some of these gradings are redundant, but I know that they would annoy the ... interesting lines, I'm sure, because you know what the something that went or did not go is and we don't.[/nq]This "interface" provided by the program is extremely non-essential, redundant in itself (hard numbers are given as well) and largely for fun.People have different taste in what's fun, I know. I've chosen deliberately to make the grading fine grained to the extent that it is redundant. No lives depend on this, and my question was not how to improve this silly part of the program. Of course everyone is entirely free to answer questions not posed.

I was merely intestested whether native speakers would agree with the ordering, and whether some adjectives feel odd in the list, disregarding the little context that I gave. Information concerning redundancy is also quite interesting. I'd think that 'exceptional' and 'excellent' do indicate different grades of superiority though (refering to another post; I can see that 'superior' might be sitting somewhat tight inbetween the two).
Thanks,
Stijn
Stijn van Dongen asks about:
perfect exceptional superior excellent good acceptable mediocre poor bad lousy miserable awful wretched atrocious

On the good side, I think "excellent" and "superior" might be reversed. "Superb" also fits in around there, perhaps between the two. "Very good" is commonly used as a grade just above "good", but I guess we're only working with single words here. And "fair" might be fitted in between "good" and "acceptable".
On the bad side, I think the order is less clear-cut, but the version given above is reasonable. "Terrible" and "ghastly" might be added, probably in that order between "wretched" and "atrocious".
Mark Brader, Toronto "More importantly, Mark is just plain wrong." (Email Removed) John Hollingsworth

My text in this article is in the public domain.
(snip)
perfect exceptional superior excellent good acceptable mediocre poor bad lousy miserable awful wretched atrocious

Your scale is biased toward the low side. "Acceptable" should be at the midpoint, not "poor" or "bad". Are you expecting mostly bad results?
I think I'd reverse the order of "superior" and "excellent".

Ray Heindl
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Stijn van Dongen asks about:

perfect exceptional superior excellent good acceptable mediocre poor bad lousy miserable awful wretched atrocious

On the good side, I think "excellent" and "superior" might be reversed. "Superb" also fits in around there, perhaps between ... the version given above is reasonable. "Terrible" and "ghastly" might be added, probably in that order between "wretched" and "atrocious".

Great, thanks. I was indeed after single words.
perhaps "outstanding" could fit in there as well ..

acceptable
fair
good
outstanding
superior
superb
excellent
exceptional
perfect
terrible and ghastly are well appreciated down there. Since the list is semi-nonsensical, I might be tempted to stack "divine" on top of "perfect" -
but it is a less-than-perfect solution to the seemingly impossible problem "what's better than perfect?". (I omitted this from the first posting, but actually there *is* in the original context an entry on top of perfect, it is "yabadabadoo")
regards,
Stijn
outstanding superior superb excellent exceptional perfect

Now that I look at it again, I think "superb" rates higher than "excellent".
Mark Brader, Toronto > "When I wanted to be a sigquote, that wasn't (Email Removed) > the one I was thinking of." Clive Feather
Hi, I'm a Dutch engineer, and one of my programs outputs a measure indicating how well something went. The measure ... am not a native speaker, and would be interested in improvements or even extensions to the list. Here it is.

Good list, but I'd make a few changes:
perfect

'Perfect' is hard to improve on. Would 'outstanding' be a good choice for the second word?
exceptional

I'd delete that one. It can mean any of a number of things these days, some of them negative.
superior excellent

As someone else suggested, I'd reverse those two.
good acceptable mediocre

Whoa! There's a big gap between being acceptable and being mediocre. I think you need some more positive words in your list. A few could be fitted into that gap.
poor bad lousy miserable awful wretched atrocious

You've said you want your users to derive some fun on seeing these measures. To that end, I'd include more positive words and fewer negative ones.

Charles Riggs
- Primarily northeast US upbringing,thus having an American accent and having a greater familiarity with AmE, with 48 years of experience with it,than with BrE or Hibernian-English. - Currently living on the west coast of Ireland; passingly familiar with Hibernian-English expressions, having been here for ten years. No discernable Irish accent.
My email address: chriggs/at/eircom/dot/net
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