Normally we use a phrase "spoon feeding" Is it negative or positive phrase. or it's all about how we treat it. Thank you so much!:)

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    Obviously it depends whether the context is literally feeding a baby or invalid, or giving a lot of help to someone who ought not to need it. Jan 17, 2023 at 18:46
  • Really, o oo. I thought "step by step" and "spoon feeding" both are similar in meaning.
    – Nadeem Taj
    Jan 17, 2023 at 19:05
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    Unless you are feeding a baby, it is generally negative. We say it about people who can't help themselves, or require information one drip at a time. Jan 17, 2023 at 19:15
  • @WeatherVane, if I asked you to prepare one glass of "lassi" for me. And you replied I have no idea what is lassi. Then I assist you in preparation process. Am I spoon feeding, if yes, is it negative? just your two cents. BTW lassi is good drink.
    – Nadeem Taj
    Jan 17, 2023 at 19:29
  • It depends on the help that I need. If you have to say: "Go to the yogurt maker, here is a list of them, and ask them for yogurt. Explain that you want to make lassi. Then get some water. You can find water in various places, such a bottled water, or that drinking fountian over there. Then fetch some spice. We have many spice merchants here, I will help you to find one. Now you need a big glass. We keep glasses in the this cupboard here. No, not there, on the top shelf..." and so on. That is spoon-feeding. You are instructing someone who is hopelessly helpless. Jan 17, 2023 at 19:35

1 Answer 1


Spoon feeding is necessary for babies who had not yet learned to use their hands sufficiently to even navigate the food into their own mouths.

In the metaphorical spoon-feeding of information to an adult, the adult is being implicitly compared to the aforementioned child in its very early developmental stage. It is implied that the recipient of the information is less prepared to receive and process the information as it was expected from them.

So the phrase is quite likely to express disapproval.

Yet, for completeness' sake, I appear to find at least two different scenarios:

  • used with clear negative connotation, e.g. in emotionally saturated gossip,

  • or used in a somewhat neutral, merely illustrative fashion, for the sake of efficiency, to describe someone's lack of faculties, or preparedness, to process information aimed at them.
    (But take note, if it would happen in the described person's presence, it would still come across offensive. So it's probably negative, even then.)

On top of these, I would be surprised if someone found an example when it ever gets used with a positive connotation.

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    You sometimes see it used with non-human things such as machines, computer programs, engines, etc, which are given data, fuel, or raw materials bit by bit in easy-to-handle sections, and where it's by nature neutral, but I agree it would tend to be negative of people unless they were invalids etc.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 17, 2023 at 22:57
  • Yes! very good example, does it applies to all how people how they get this pharase? or it will always tend to be negative for adults.
    – Nadeem Taj
    Jan 18, 2023 at 4:33
  • @Nadeem. This answer says "likely to express disapproval" and "negative". Commenters say "negative". I think you can take it as a clear indication that when used with adults, it is negative. Jan 18, 2023 at 8:43
  • This explains it pretty well. Jan 18, 2023 at 9:04
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    @NadeemTaj the emphasis is not on the repetition at all. The emphasis is on the lack of autonomous competence. As in: "Why is this person not able to use their own hands to feed themselves?" "Why can't this person deal with this task?" An expectation is expressed: the person is expected to have a certain amount of autonomy; and then the person falls short of this expectation. They need more assistance than common sense dictates. The person needing to be spoonfed is percieved to be less competent than desired, and the speaker, the user of the phrase is illustrating their disappointment.
    – Levente
    Jan 18, 2023 at 21:33

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