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ネガティブ is an adjective that's based on the word "negative" (or maybe a word from another European language). But when describing a person, does it mean "negative", as in pessimistic, always complaining, or does it mean "bad" in general?

Apparently, in the news recently was a case where a school exam had

「学校でもっともネガティブな先生は?」

and listed one of the teachers in the example answer.

Saying "Who is the worst teacher?" would make sense, but "Who is the most negative teacher?" doesn't really make sense. Complaining about someone complaining seems a little odd, though maybe that's just me.

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I think we normally use ネガティブ to mean 'pessimistic' when we talk about someone's personality. –  Chocolate Jul 12 '12 at 12:58
    
Lols reminded me of this: onepiece.wikia.com/wiki/… –  Pacerier Jul 12 '12 at 15:41
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

As Chocolate said, ネガティブ means “pessimistic” when used to describe someone’s personality. The same meaning exists also in the English word “negative” (see Wiktionary, sense 2 of adjective), although the meaning is unclear if someone asks “Who is the most negative teacher?” (Maybe math teachers are the most negative in some sense :) )

In the particular news which you are talking about, the high-school teacher who posed this exam had been talking in a class that some other teacher is worried too much about entrance exams for colleges and universities, and the supposed solution to this question was the name of this teacher. The meaning “pessimistic” matches the description that he is worried too much. (Of course, I do not know if he is really pessimistic.)

Interestingly, neither Daijirin nor Daijisen lists this meaning. ネガティブ which means “pessimistic” might be a rather new usage, and phrase ネガティブシンキング (negative thinking) might have entered Japanese earlier than this meaning of ネガティブ itself, but this is just a speculation.

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