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There are two related problems that I am working on. The first problem is very famous. The second problem was published in a book about 70 years ago, but since then, little attention has been given to it. What adjective can I use to describe the second problem?

I looked for antonyms of "famous" and got a long list of adjectives:

unknown
bad
common
contemptible
inconspicuous
ineffective
infamous
inferior
insignificant
little
low
normal
obscure
ordinary
poor
powerless
regular
small
stupid
typical
unimportant
unimpressive
unnoteworthy
unremarkable
usual
weak
unnotable

But, most of them imply that the second problem is not very important or interesting. I do not want to imply this; on the contrary, I want to imply that it is important and interesting, only it has not been given sufficient attention. What adjective can I use?

  • 2
    Would two words be ok? Could you not just use "surprisingly" + "unknown" (or any other antonym of your choice)? – AndyT Mar 31 '17 at 11:37
  • I would suggest trying undervalued. – user2245995 Mar 31 '17 at 13:31
  • I would advise the OP to use two words in a row: "The second problem was neglected and underrated (underestimated, undervalued)" which means that there wasn't enough attention payed to it and its importance was underestimated. – SovereignSun Mar 31 '17 at 16:29
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    Just a comment on the words in your list - "infamous" doesn't mean "not famous"; its meaning is similar to "famous" but with a negative connotation. For example, we might talk about an "infamous murderer", or perhaps (with friends) "that infamous holiday where we all were ill". It's quite close to "notorious" in meaning. – Toby Speight Mar 31 '17 at 20:41
23

Underrated might be what you're looking for. It means something that deserves more attention than is given to it.

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    There's a better definition "having more importance, value, skill, power, etc., than people recognize" – SovereignSun Mar 31 '17 at 13:54
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    Underestimated and undervalued and underappreciated are synonyms – SovereignSun Mar 31 '17 at 13:55
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    While all answers are good, this is the answer I finally used. Thanks! – Erel Segal-Halevi Mar 31 '17 at 14:28
  • Underrated does not mean what you wanted, but okay. – Martin Mar 31 '17 at 15:30
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    @Martin Why not? underrated means that people didn't see as much importance in this problem as there actually was. This word slightly deviates from the "little attention has been given to it" but still conveys or implies this meaning. I'd say that "The second problem was neglected and underrated" at the the same time. There wasn't enough attention payed to it and its importance was underestimated. – SovereignSun Mar 31 '17 at 16:27
18

What about little-known?

little-known (ˌlɪtəlˈnəʊn)
adjective
not widely known; not famed
(Collins)

Little-known is often used to describe something interesting or important but that relatively few people know.

Here are some examples I found online:

Using the OP, an example would be

The recently proposed problem X has researchers baffled. However, the little-known problem Y might hold the key to solving X.

  • I'd accept this answer! In Russian we have the exact same term for this adjective - "малоизвестный". Something that is not as well-known as it should be. We use it to speak about either things or people. – SovereignSun Mar 31 '17 at 11:34
  • Little-known does not suggest that the thing ought to be better-known. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 31 '17 at 13:18
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    @BoundaryImposition: Not by itself, but it is often used in that context. If the rest of the sentence describes the item positively, that connotation is more or less implied. – Kevin Apr 2 '17 at 3:16
  • @Kevin Not in my experience. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 2 '17 at 14:06
15

I would suggest neglected. In context, this carries both connotations of being little known and of this being an unfortunate state of affairs.

As well as Blogg's famous Widget problem, I address the related Gidgit problem presented in A tale of Widgets and Gadgets (Smith, 1937) which has been sadly neglected in the intervening years.

11

Overlooked or often-overlooked

Overlook

  1. Fail to notice

Oxford English Dictionary

As for the phrase often overlooked, we can see this used quite frequently, for instance at the time of writing a Google search for the phrase included

as four of its top five results. It does seem to be a favorite of those writing clickbait headlines, but the phrase is certainly common.

7

I think obscure might be a good word for you.

My Mac's thesaurus lists unknown, unnoticed, and forgotten as synonyms for obscure.

The dictionary lists quite a few definitions for it; the one most pertinent for you would be:

obscure (adj.) not famous or acclaimed

[Source: WordNet 3.0]

That meaning would be readily discerned in a sentence like this one:

We will discuss two problems – the first is well-known, while the second is more obscure.

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    Obscure does not, to me, carry the implication that something is not as well known as it should be. Only that it is not well known. – Jack Aidley Mar 31 '17 at 12:26
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    @JackAidley - Interesting. I didn't see anything in the question that said the adjective needed to convey that the problem should have been given more attention than it had attained – only that it shouldn't imply the problem was insignificant. – J.R. Mar 31 '17 at 14:48
  • Unfortunately that sentiment seems to be more in the title than the question which leads to the eternal quandry of Stack Overflow as to whether we answer the question in the title or the text when they don't quite match. Although there is this: "...I want to imply that it is important and interesting..." which I don't think obscure does. – Jack Aidley Mar 31 '17 at 14:52
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    @JackAidley - Ah! Thanks for pointing that out. This isn't the first time I've not paid sufficient attention to the title of a question, and it's why I often exhort users to repeat key information in the body of the question when they can. Titles can be so obscure sometimes... ;-) – J.R. Mar 31 '17 at 15:02
2

Overshadowed fits nicely here, as the first problem is the cause of the second being unknown.

Problem B, though overshadowed by the more famous Problem A, is nonetheless important in the history of mathematics.

Overshadowed implies that something else has stood out more, and leaves the subject figuratively in the shadow of the other object. It's used in conjunction with that more prominent object, so you will often see it in the form, "A is overshadowed by B". It can be used as an adjective directly modifying the subject, but it should be clear what it being eclipsed by.

Though the superhero had the star role in the film, the overshadowed sidekick was also a superb actor.

2

unappreciated - maybe doesn't pertain exactly to how little known, more to how little recognized. All are good, except maybe obscure, which doesn't imply that it should be known ( a good thing).

1

According to what you say "The second problem was published in a book about 70 years ago, but since then, little attention has been given to it." primarily means that the problem was forgotten about, though it may have seemed quite important.

It doesn't say that it should be a well-known problem or that its importance was underestimated. Based on your sentence, a possible word could be "trivialized" or "neglected".

The problem appeared to be unimportant, insignificant at that time; it was a trivial problem, one of little value or importance. Little light was made of this problem. Or it was a neglected problem and little attention was payed to it.

Other possible variants are: ignored, underestimated, underrated, undervalued, understated, underreckoned,treated lightly,depreciated

I personally tend to "underestimated", and "trivialized" or "neglected".

A very good option would be to use two words in a row!

  • "The second problem was neglected and underrated (underestimated, undervalued)" which means that there wasn't enough attention payed to it and its importance was underestimated.
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    If, as I suspect from their question, OP's academic work is anywhere in mathematics or the sciences, "trivial" has a very specific meaning that would be easily confused with "trivialized" here, so that should probably be avoided. (A "trivial" problem in mathematics is one that is very simply or obviously solved, sometimes as a single application of another theorem.) – BradC Mar 31 '17 at 14:46

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