Is there an antonym for the adjective “edifying”? The reason being, I've been trying to find a suitable translation for the Italian word "diseducativo", but so far have found none.

Dictionaries give the following translation of the word "diseducativo":

I know the immediate opposite of "edifying" should be "unedifying", but according to all definitions this last simply means, not having the result of improving morality, intellect, etc.

However, the word "diseducativo" evokes something worse than that. It actually counters the edifying process. It is used to refer to someone or something, like a role model or a tv show that has a bad influence on moral beliefs. Not simply "not edifying", but rather "counter-edifying"; a word that doesn't exist though.

The word "diseducativo" can also be mistaken for the opposite of the English word "educative" (or its more used synonym "educational") which is the rare word "antieducational", opposing the provision of knowledge. The thing is, for some reason, the word "diseducativo" is not simply related to knowledge or instruction, but, as I mentioned above, to moral beliefs and upbringing.

Now, let me also add this funny thing I came across in my research. On Vocabulary.com I found the related verb "to instill" (normally positive beliefs and values on someone). And the explanation says: "Parents work hard to develop, or instill, positive beliefs and values in their children. Interestingly, there's no corresponding word for when parents pass down their bad habits."

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    I'm not asking about an Italian word. I only mentioned one in order to add more details and better explain the English word I'm looking for, which I'm afraid doesn't exist.
    – Fra
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 21:30
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    He asks about an English word, "the opposite to edifying" and gives the italian as an example of why he thinks that such a word would exist. Well asked and on topic]
    – James K
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 21:30
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    Regardless of the Italian word or the English word, you have mentioned two different meanings. (And edifying has two different meanings.) It's very likely you'll never find a single word that means the opposite of both meanings. You seem to lean more toward causing immorality or bad behaviour—but it's not entirely clear if you're ruling out causing confusion or giving misinformation. Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 21:51
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    unedifying does exist. And forget educative, the word is educational in English.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 22:59
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    @WeatherVane Here's a rule I try to apply to myself (not just for SE, but everywhere!): whenever you feel something is breaking the SE rules, ask yourself if, had the form of the question been different but the content essentially identical, would you still think that it was off topic? If so, your criteria are wrong (or SE's criteria are, and you should ignore them). Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 23:11

3 Answers 3


Corrupting or (stronger) depraved/depraving seem to carry the sense you need.

This is an obscene book that would deprave anyone who has to read it.

It is possible to use "depraved" as the adjective. A "depraved book" is implicitly one which depraves its readers.

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    I don't know why, but I can't recall ever seeing deprave used as a verb. It's in the dictionary, though.
    – Andrew
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 22:05
  • +1. There are also the adjectival depraved and depraving, the latter being what I think OP is looking for. The depraving influences of ______
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 22:45
  • @Andrew I'm pretty sure I've heard it used as a verb, I suspect by somebody like a judge, senior police officer, member of parliament, or a particular kind of newspaper columnist :-) Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 23:14
  • This refers solely to moral, and not to intellect. Commented Oct 13, 2018 at 4:01
  • "Corrupting" and "depraving" do convey the meaning I was looking for, although the latter is not commonly used in the adjectival form. I've also just found this other adjective, "inappropriate", which is used a lot in the context I mentioned (tv shows, role models, etc.). Although its definition doesn't include the action of "bad influence", it seems to be idiomatically implied. (If a tv show is inappropriate, it's implied that children shouldn't watch it, lest they might be influenced by it). Just think of the familiar expression "inappropriate content".
    – Fra
    Commented Oct 13, 2018 at 10:57

If we are primarily discussing the moral effect, debasing is the first thing that comes to mind. It could apply to intellectual effects, but the primary sense is moral. Of course, "edify" is primarily about morality as well, but the idea is that as you learn, you become more moral.

Actually corrupting is also a great synonym on the moral side.

It's not normally possible to take education (knowledge) from someone unless you mislead them.

  • The Italian dictionaries give examples like reading that is diseducativo for kids. It is not debasing. It means it's morally corrupting for them.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 22:58
  • I don't follow. Debasing pretty much means morally corrupting, though I'd argue it's not as strong a word.
    – farnsy
    Commented Oct 13, 2018 at 0:19

If 'edifying' had a temporary effect, and you didn't care about the moral implications, I would have suggested 'stupefying', but then I saw that 'disedifying' is a word, and it means the same as 'diseducativo': damaging ones morals.

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