Word of the Day for Thursday, April 23, 2009:
ค่อนข้าง /khɔ̂n 'khâaŋ/ rather, relatively, fairly
This phrase can be used both positively and negatively, e.g. ค่อนข้างดี "rather good" vs. ค่อนข้างแย่ "rather terrible." It lightens the weight of your statement in either direction.
In some cases it's comparable to the suffix -ish, as in ค่อนข้างเปรี้ยว "sourish". However, keep in mind that in English, -ish is often used to damn with faint praise, which doesn't really match the Thai meaning of ค่อนข้าง. So in English I might say "yeah, the movie was funny-ish," which is an idiomatic way of saying it wasn't very funny at all. On the flipside, ค่อนข้างตลก would be understood as funny but not hysterical, which closer matches the sentiment of English "pretty funny" or "fairly funny."
You can use it with pretty much anything that acts like an adjective. ค่อนข้างสูง "rather tall", ค่อนข้างอ้วน "rather fat", ค่อนข้างหิว "rather hungry". Even ค่อนข้างแดง "rather red", if, say, you went to the beach and asked a friend to describe how your back after a nap on your stomach.