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CC-CEDICT 未免 (wèi miǎn) unavoidably / can't help / really / rather

The word 未免 is often translated to "a bit too" or "rather" when used in sentences such as 这个价格未免太贵了吧 or 他未免太紧张了 (sentence source: Assistant).

However, the characters individually are = "not yet; etc." and = "to avoid; to exempt; etc." which doesn't seem to directly relate to the given translation. 不免 = "inevitably" and 难免 = "hard to avoid" seem to directly make sense. This leaves me puzzled about...

Question: What's the logic and etymology behind 未免 = "rather"?

The etymology isn't listed on Wiktionary, and honestly I'm not sure where else to look (I don't usually study etymology).

4 Answers 4

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未 - not quite

免 - exempt

未免 --> not quite exempt (can't avoid being considered) = rather

Saying 未免 makes a statement less assertive

Example:

現在攻擊實在太冒險了 = It is certainly too risky to attack now (assertive)

現在攻擊未免太冒險了 = It is rather risky to attack now (less assertive)

Sometimes people don't want to sound too assertive, Brunt people may say "It is stupid" but more tactful people would say "It may be a little bit unthoughtful"

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The meanings of "rather" and "quite" are difficult enough to explain in English.
Translation of 未免 as "rather" is idiomatic.

"rather" is from Old English hraðe, meaning "quick" or "soon".
"quite" originally meant "completely, thoroughly" but the sense shifted to "fairly" later.

未免:实在是: indeed, really, truly
未免:不能不说是: have to say that

例句: 你这样做未免太过分了。Like that is a bit too much.

For etymology you need to look at 未、免 separately.

免:Original meaning 本义: Meaning (orig- ceremonial cap) now to evade.
未:Original meaning 本义: Meaning future, not yet.

I have always wondered what the connection between 免 and兔 is!

这个价格未免太贵了吧。
I have to say that price is expensive.

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  • 大和太,王和玉,木和术,etc. they are just different signifiers, as b and d, g and q, E and F.
    – PdotWang
    Aug 3, 2023 at 16:49
  • “Rather” itself is rather difficult to understand. Therefore I rather use very, most likely, a little bit, etc. instead.
    – PdotWang
    Aug 3, 2023 at 17:47
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未免 is a negation of negation, means most likely, which is a pretty strong confirmation. 未免 has the same meaning as 真是, and the two words can be used together if you like.

一个苹果卖十块钱,未免太贵了吧?

一个苹果卖十块钱,真是太贵了啊!

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未免太贵了 = 有点太贵了 ,语气不重的双重否定,就是一个不重的肯定表达。

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