Connotation of the word “disappointed”

As a non native English speaker (I speak German), I’m frequently confused by the usage of the word “disappointed”. When someone tells me they’re “disappointed” that something didn’t happen, the obvious meaning is they really wished / expected for that something to happen.

My question is, when I was the reason for that something not to happen, how often is there a connotation that hints at that person reproaching that I should have really made that something happen for them?

I’m interested in both the interpretation of the above:

  • By native English speakers
  • By non-native English speakers who might inadvertently convey that reproach from their usage of the translation of “disappointed” to their own native language. E.g. I believe that this connotation exists in the German word “enttäuscht”.

Answer

If it is something you should have done – and you didn’t do it – and they tell you that they are disappointed that it didn’t happen, then yes, the implication is that they are disappointed in you. “Disappointed” is not a benign word.

Of course, it’s a slightly more polite way of putting it than “I am disappointed in you.” There are various reasons why someone might choose to be polite here. For instance, they might allow for the possibility that you failing to complete your task was genuinely not your fault, in which case it’s appropriate to apologize and explain what happened. Or they might simply not feel like having a confrontation that day. Either way, if that’s the word they used to describe a situation you have caused, I’d take it seriously.

However, that goes for a situation in which they had a reasonable expectation that you would do something for them. If they had no reason to expect it, and were merely hoping for it, then there may be no implication of disappointed in you. But, unfortunately, “disappointed” is still not a benign term. The likely intent is still to communicate their displeasure to the person who caused it.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Lukas Eder , Answer Author : Misha R

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