Cautiously Optimistic

Posted by ESC on May 19, 2000

In Reply to: Cautiously Optimistic posted by Bob on May 19, 2000

: : I have heard the term "cautiously optimistic" used several times in news article....but what does it mean exactly? Would really like to know.

: It means "I believe things will turn out well, so I want credit for having the wisdom to predict it. But I don't have the courage to say so out loud, so if everything falls apart, I want credit for having the wisdom to be cautious." It's a phrase used extensively by economists, politicians, and other spineless creatures.

William Safire, in "Safire's New Political Dictionary," (Random House, New York, 1993) says: "cautiously optimistic -- having a guarded sense of well-being; the hopeful politician's straddle. This phrase restricts the adjective 'optimistic' by modifying it with the wary adverb 'cautiously.'President Reagan, asked how he felt about the possibility of approval for his sale of AWACS aircraft to Saudi Aradia, often answered, 'cautiously optimistic.' Overused by politicians who picked up Reagan's use, 'cautiously optimistic' is almost never used."