In English, the word "conservative" seems neutral. However, the Chinese word "保守" seems to carry a negative connotation (Am I right)? What word should I use if I would like to express the english word "conservative" in a neutral way? How about in a positive way?

  • Is conservative really considered neutral in English?
    – Mou某
    Sep 4, 2019 at 7:23
  • Is this context on politics or not?
    – Blaszard
    Sep 4, 2019 at 15:34
  • @Blaszard, not necessarily. I would like to ask about this word in general.
    – Zuriel
    Sep 10, 2019 at 5:17

3 Answers 3


From the stand point of innovative and liberal thinkers, 保守思想 (conservative thinking) does carry a negative connotation of inability to adapt

For example: 思想保守的人不願譲子女與外國人通婚 (conservative thinking people do not want their children to marry foreigners) . Since most people nowadays do not mind international marriage, the ones who oppose it had became the minority.

You can say 保守思想(conservative thinking) is polite words for 陳舊思想(old thinking) or 落伍思想 (outdated thinking)

But 保守 as an adjective or adverb on it's own is neutral

For example: 保守估計 (conservative estimate); 保守作風 (conservative style); 保守(地)估計 (conservatively estimate)

How about in a positive way?

You can replace 保守 with 穩建 (cautious) which implies "careful" and "steady" or 慬慎 (cautious)

Example: 作風穩建; 立場慬慎


You are right.It implies a negativity in general.

With regards to "investment strategy",保守 could mean "risk aversive".

One exception will be ETA, 保守估计 actually just indicates a conservative time estimate.

I think "conservative" is close to 稳妥


I disagree. It depends on the context. 保守 doesn't sound negative to me.

If I say the reason I don't take drugs is that I'm 保守 it shouldn't mean anything bad.

If I say someone doesn't like taking risks is 保守 it also is totally neutral.

The negative version will be 守旧.

  • you are disagreeing with moiaussi06's answer, not mine, I presume? I did state 保守 by itself is neutral
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 9, 2019 at 19:32
  • I disagree with this sentence in the question:However, the Chinese word "保守" seems to carry a negative connotation (Am I right)?
    – user22720
    Sep 16, 2019 at 5:32
  • As my answer stated, 保守思想 carry a negative connotation, but 保守 is neutral
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 16, 2019 at 5:35
  • It can be very personal. I'm not suggesting there wouldn't be people who think this way but sometimes there are no better translation for conservative. The context is more important. my personal opinion
    – user22720
    Sep 16, 2019 at 5:37
  • tbh, 保守思想 still doesn't sound bad to me. It really depend on the context. Once someone said to me, 中国人思想还是比较保守的,你不要.... 。 the person who said it definitely didn't say 保守 in a bad way.
    – user22720
    Sep 16, 2019 at 5:40

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