I've been confused for a long time about how certain Japanese words map onto the meaning of "optimistic" and "pessimistic" in English. Specifically, what is the difference between

(Optimistic) 楽天的、楽観的、積極的 ?


(Pessimistic) 悲観的、消極的 ?

I have a vague impression that 積極的 and 消極的 are more about behavior, while 楽天的 and 悲観的 are more about hopes/expectations; is that right?

  • 3
    Where are you getting the definitions 積極的 and 消極的 in the first place? I am a Japanese-speaker and I certainly could not think of a situation where "optimistic" and "pessimistic" could mean those respectively.
    – user4032
    Nov 28, 2014 at 6:36

1 Answer 1


積極的 being translated to "optimistically" would be limited to taking on a task that seems doomed from the outset. The actual meaning is more along the line of positively, actively and such an effort may be viewed as optimistic when the odds are against you.

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