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Amiable vs Good-natured vs Obliging vs Complaisant

Amiable, good-natured, obliging and complaisant all mean having or manifesting the desire or disposition to please. All may refer either to moods or to temperaments.

Amiable usually implies friendliness, affability, or kindliness, qualities that inspire liking.

  • from what he said of Miss Darcy, I was thoroughly prepared to see a proud, reserved, disagreeable girl. Yet he . . . must know that she was as amiable and unpretending as we have found her

Often, however, the word suggests little more than a sweet temper.

  • preferred an amiable softness to a tragic intensity

Occasionally it additionally connotes lack of firmness or strength.

  • she suddenly married a poor, good-for-nothing, amiable fellow

Good-natured implies a disposition not only to please but to be pleased; consequently it often connotes undue compliance or indifference to imposition.

  • he was too good-natured a man to behave harshly—Macaulay
  • horseplay and practical jokes . . . at weddings . . . require good-natured toleration

Obliging stresses a readiness to be helpful, or to accommodate to the wishes of others.

  • Keppel had a sweet and obliging temper
  • he always had the courtesy to answer me, for he was a most obliging fellow

Complaisant implies a courteous or sometimes a weakly amiable desire to please or to be agreeable.

  • her importunity prevailed with me and I am extremely glad I was so complaisant