Middle English neuterall mutually neutralizing, from Medieval Latin neutralis, back-formation from neutralitas middle ground, from Latin neutralis neuter, from neutr-, classical Latin neutrālis neither masculine nor feminine
- 1: not engaged on either side; specifically : not aligned with a political or ideological grouping <a neutral nation>
- 2: of or relating to a neutral state or power <neutral territory>
- 3a : not decided or pronounced as to characteristics : indifferent
- b (1) : achromatic (2) : nearly achromatic
- c (1) : neuter 3 (2) : lacking stamens or pistils
- d : neither acid nor basic
- e : not electrically charged
- 4: produced with the tongue in the position it has when at rest <the neutral vowels of \ə-ˈbəv\ above>
Neutrality is not synonymous with indifference or ignorance. One can be actively engaged in a dispute, yet not publicly choose a side. The moderator of a debate is expected to remain neutral. Neutrality is not synonymous with silence. A mediator facilitates dialog between parties. Doublethink implies defending two or more contradictory ideas, whereas neutrality implies not defending any.
Neutrality is not synonymous with objectivity. In a controversy, an objective person will not remain neutral but will choose the side supported by the most objective arguments. Objectivity therefore requires a choice, which is often difficult, whereas neutrality requires no choice. Note that in journalism objectivity is considered synonymous with neutrality.
Neutrality implies not judging the validity of an opinion. Thus, a neutral person will provide a platform for all opinions, including irrational or malicious opinions. According to Dante, The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. Woodrow Wilson said " neutrality is a negative word. It does not express what America ought to feel. We are not trying to keep out of trouble; we are trying to preserve the foundations on which peace may be rebuilt. "