I have this sentence where I used the word infringement, and I think I'm exaggerating things a bit by choosing it. Moreover, I want it to mean: not saying anything bad in any way about someone, not speaking of them badly.

The sentence:

How do I explain my stance without infringement his family and without putting myself in an awkward position in front of him?

So, is there a suitable word to put it instead of infringement?

Also, about the word stance, does it mean position? And, does it fit in that sentence?

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    Using "infringement" here isn't 'exaggerating things a bit', it's just wrong. It doesn't fit in the sentence grammatically and it doesn't have the meaning you suggest. Aug 24, 2018 at 23:01
  • @MichaelKay Consider it infringing, so it would be grammatically correct. Aug 25, 2018 at 8:08
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    @TasneemZh in·fringe (v) - actively break the terms of (a law, agreement, etc.).
    – Sinjai
    Aug 25, 2018 at 18:38
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    The sentence construction just doesn’t sound natural, regardless of the word you choose. Perhaps you want something like “without insulting...” or “without impugning his family’s pride/honor.”
    – CodeGnome
    Aug 26, 2018 at 3:37
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    @MichaelKay You can certainly infringe upon someone, in the sense of “to encroach.”
    – CodeGnome
    Aug 26, 2018 at 3:39

8 Answers 8


Because your question asks for a term that means the opposite of "infringing" or "disparaging", the word I would recommend is "tact."


a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense

The peace talks required great tact on the part of both leaders.

The word "tact" is often used in the form of an adjective ("tactful") or an adverb ("tactfully"). One might also say that something must be said "with tact." The sentence you provided could then become:

How do I explain my stance with tact, so that I do not offend his family or put myself in an awkward position with him?

  • The reconstruction of my sentence that you made with the words tact and offend is perfect. That's why I chose this answer as the best one. Aug 24, 2018 at 15:50

It should be infringing and it’s not clear to me what it could mean in this example. Your usage of stance seems correct here.

You could consider disparaging:

transitive verb
If you disparage someone or something, you speak about them in a way which shows that you do not have a good opinion of them.
...Larkin's tendency to disparage literature.
(Collins Dictionary)


If the context is that you're trying not to say something bad about the family, you could possibly use casting apsersions?

cast aspersions
to say harsh critical things about someone or someone's character [formal]
...He tried to discuss his political opponents respectfully, without casting aspersions.
(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

So in your case, that would be

How do I explain my stance without casting aspersions on his family and without putting myself in an awkward position in front of him?

  • If I write that expression in my story, would the native English readers understand it? Or should I clarify what cast aspersions means because it is rare as I last checked? Aug 24, 2018 at 13:21
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    it might be rare but it isn't obsolete, do not be afraid of expanding your or others vocabulary, with good words. if we only ever use words 100% of our audience understand we will end up writing peter and jane stories, as nobody will ever learn any new words. (mylearningkid.net/product/…)
    – WendyG
    Aug 24, 2018 at 13:56
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    I went with the Merriam-Webster definition as I wasn't sure how common the usage is elsewhere, but in Ireland and the UK it wouldn't be that rare.
    – Mohirl
    Aug 24, 2018 at 15:04
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    Cast aspersions is very good here. It is very used across all varieties of English. It is not rare. It is an idiomatic expression.
    – Lambie
    Aug 24, 2018 at 20:22
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    I think "disparaging" is closer to the meaning the OP wants to convey. To my mind "casting aspersions" is not directly saying something bad about someone, rather it is hinting that there might be bad things that could be said. Aug 24, 2018 at 23:04

In my opinion, you can both use stance and position.

Instead of infringement (which should be without infringing in your sentence, by the way) I'd use offending.

How do I explain my stance without offending his family and without putting myself in an awkward position in front of him?

(Native German Speaker)


It's not entirely clear what you mean by bad—it can be taken in many different ways. It could be an insult, a criticism, a social faux pas, and so on.

But I can think of a general word to use that would cover almost all meanings of bad:

How do I explain my stance without upsetting his family and without putting myself in an awkward position in front of him?

You can be upset in any number of ways—from mild displeasure or annoyance all the way to insult and anger.

As for stance, I would say that it means viewpoint or belief here. (It could be equated with one sense of position, but that word has other senses that don't make it quite as relevant.)

Stance is perfectly understandable in this sentence.

  • I don't think "upsetting" is quite the meaning the OP wanted to convey. Saying bad things about someone is "disparaging" them; upsetting them is a possible consequence of disparaging them, but it's not the same thing. Aug 24, 2018 at 23:08
  • @MichaelKay But how do you know what the question intended to convey? It's not clear. You can upset someone because you've called them a name—or because you've spilled a secret. Both of those things are bad things to say in a particular context. Don't say that. That would not be good. It would be bad. The original question didn't defined bad in any way at all. So, any meaning that we ascribe to it is simply an assumption. Aug 24, 2018 at 23:42

You may be thinking of impugning, it has an archaic meaning "to assault with words".

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    I think this is a good suggestion. Your answer could use a little more explanation though. How would "impugning" fit into the example sentence? What is the modern meaning?
    – ColleenV
    Aug 24, 2018 at 17:10
  • merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impugn doesn't put it as archaic "to assail by words or arguments : oppose or attack as false or lacking integrity". I think in OP's case it would be "without impugning the character of his family". I think it would be a bit stiff though. (but a lot of suggestions here are)
    – msouth
    Oct 18, 2019 at 18:42

Try diplomatic (adjective) or diplomatically (adverb).


  1. Exhibiting diplomacy; exercising tact or courtesy; using discussion to avoid hard feelings, fights or arguments.

Used like this:

How do I explain my stance diplomatically?

  • Isn't it a bit too formal for a family issue? Aug 24, 2018 at 20:15
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    One does not need to be a diplomat to be diplomatic. Indeed, I have heard it used among people's friends or family.
    – DrSheldon
    Aug 25, 2018 at 0:11

I'd say that you want to do it "without badmouthing his family".

Here's a definition of the verb "badmouth":

to say bad things about (someone or something) : to criticize (someone or something)

The word is slightly informal and can be either written as a single word or hyphenated ("bad-mouth").

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