Learn English – A word that describes a process that can be both good and bad


I am searching for a word that can describe an object or process as having both bad and good elements.

I realize this is a repeat of this previous question, but I do not believe the suggestions answer my question;

  • Egregious, the proposed answer by the OP, is not a common enough word (anyone I have asked has had to look it up), nor does it mean precisely what I'm after,
  • Sick is a word that can be used in both good and bad contexts. It does not actually mean "both good and bad".

The context I am working is biological, specifically cognitive impairment (such as dementia). In a publication I am working on currently, I would like to describe the role of inflammation as having both good and bad roles (depending on the situation).

I can think of possible sayings that might apply, for example "swings and roundabouts" or "bitter-sweet", but again these do not seem formal enough.

Is there a word that fits the context? "Inflammation is a double-edged sword…" but more scientifically!

Best Answer

How about dualistic?

As in the Oxford Dictionary:

Theology .

a. the doctrine that there are two independent divine beings or eternal principles, one good and the other evil.

Seems appropriate to say that inflammation has a dualistic role.