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The word amalgamation refers to the process of uniting/combining entities, but every time I hear the word used, the tone is one of success.

A recent example I heard is that Hong Kong is very pleasant for both English and Chinese-speakers, because it has signs in both languages, and the people there speak, or at least understand, both languages. Thus it was referred to as a complete amalgamation of eastern and western culture.

Similarly, every time I hear or read someone using the word, it seems like they are happy with the amalgamation.

Question

Does the word amalgamation imply a certain level of success, or can the word also be correctly used in a situation where the process of combining/uniting things has gone wrong?

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    It is neutral. If the virtues of an amalgamation are wanted, it's a positive thing, but if purity is wanted, or the combination results in something undesirable, an amalgamation is negative. tinyurl.com/zs4dyqd
    – TimR
    Dec 14, 2016 at 10:12

2 Answers 2

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Amalgamation is simply the process of combining or joining two entities together - there's no positive or negative connotation associated with the word itself, only with the outcome.

Examples where the outcome of amalgamation has been seen in a negative light: http://www.ruralcouncil.ca/amalgamation.htm https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/12/22/is_torontos_amalgamation_working.html http://kcc4c.ca/617/making-neighbours-pay-hidden-costs-municipal-amalgamation/

The pros and cons of amalgamation of a local authority being discussed here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11465114

As you can see, the word itself doesn't carry any weight. Only the outcome of the process does.

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You are quite right in perceiving that

amalgamation

has a positive connotation, but to understand this, one has to look at the intent behind the action instead of only the definition of the word.

The definition merely means the process of "joining" or "coming together". However, the intent behind this happening is usually because there is a "good" reason to "join" things together. In business, it might be to achieve "scale" or a larger presence. In metallurgy it would be to create a stronger alloy.

Just as in marriage, one would not normally enter into a union unless it was mutually beneficial for both parties (hopefully), but like marriage it may succeed or it may fail. The outcome would not be know at the time of the "amalgamation".

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