compromise

A compromise is what happens when people who want different things each agree to give up some of the things they want in favor of what the other people want.

Because compromising isn’t as much fun as getting everything you want, a lot people don’t like to do it. It might be a coincidence, but we also use the word “compromise” to describe breaches of security (“Our location is compromised! Run!”) and certain kinds of personal failings (nobody wants to be caught compromising their morals).

Some compromises are good for society — they help keep us all from tearing each other’s faces off in pursuit of the things we want. But compromising can also be a disaster.

The word “compromise,” like the word “balanced,” can be misleading. People who say it are counting on you to think of the good kind of compromise: reasonable, civil adults striking a deal nobody hates too much. A little of this and a little of that. How could anyone not support this?

Let’s compromise: You do my laundry and I won’t throw your puppy into the ocean. I’ll give you my seat on the train, but you have to buy me coffee every day next week. You take the first piece of cake and I’ll take the rest.

What’s that? You DON’T want to compromise with me? You have such a bad attitude.