Something that damages productivity is counterproductive.

What would be the word for something harmful to your learning process? For example, teaching you wrong, so that later you must first unlearn the wrong knowledge before you learn it right?

Say, a book for little children contains some words badly misspelled for humorous purposes, but since it's the first contact of the children with these words, they learn them that way, thinking this is the correct spelling, and later they have trouble learning the right spelling at school.

5 Answers 5


In my line of work, flight simulation and training, this is called negative training.

A teaching device of any kind, whether it is a flight training device, or anything else, must be carefully designed so that it does not impart negative training. See this USAToday article that talks about it:

If Renslow and Shaw had tried to use a simulator to practice recovering from a stall — when a plane's wings stop producing the lift that keeps a plane airborne — it would have given them a dramatically misleading picture of how their plane behaved.

"It's negative training," says Jack Ralston of Bihrle Applied Research, a Hampton, Va., firm that specializes in creating realistic simulators. The way airline training simulators portray stalls now is "so benign it gives the pilot a false impression of what the aircraft actually behaves like."


Counterproductive does not mean "harmful to productivity", it means "having the opposite of the desired effect".

So the word can also be used in reference to learning or indeed to any endeavor that has a goal. The spellings you describe would be "counterproductive" to learning spelling.


One word that is very commonly used in this sense is detrimental. It can be used more generally than just within learning, as it literally means "harmful" or "tending to cause harm", and it is often used in other ways (e.g. "detrimental to your health"), but it works well here.

Detrimental has the implicit meaning of "not only does this not help, but it in fact creates more problems".

So I would say that the words in that book are detrimental to the child's learning process.


It is misleading.

However, there are other phenomenons relevant to this question. For example,

False friends are pairs of words or phrases in two languages that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning. An example is the English embarrassed and the Spanish embarazado, which does not in fact mean "embarrassed" but rather "pregnant".

Another example is Ukrainian магазин [mɑɦɑ'zɪn] which means "shop", unlike English magazine.


How about unwholesome. It means

not characterized by or conducive to health or moral well-being

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .