Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the English word for a person who when they fail and realize their failure, they then regret and quickly correct their own behaviour without any wavering?

Edit: I accepted an answer although the exact word I am looking for has not been found. I will change the answer should one be found.

The closest matches are conscientious, repentant. To express exactly what I am looking for consider the scenario: You have had an argument, then you realize that what you did to your friend is wrong and he was correct. Without any thinking at that very second you run back to your friend saying: "I am sorry I have done wrong." asking for apology. It may take you 2 minutes to correct yourself - maybe you would go over your reasoning a few times to convince a good part of yourself to take over, and you would still be considered repentant and conscientious. But what I mean is a correction without a second thought once you realize you are wrong.

share|improve this question
    
Are you asking for a word describing someone else who corrects an action of yours with no warning, having decided that that action was wrong? What are the circumstances? It could be officious or altruistic or anything in between. –  Andrew Leach Jul 29 '13 at 6:00
    
Hmm. Now the question indicates the other possible interpretation. It would be really good if you could categorically state (without using the word one) whether this is now right, or my earlier comment is. –  Andrew Leach Jul 29 '13 at 14:25
    
That's a storybook hero –  jwpat7 Jul 29 '13 at 15:46

9 Answers 9

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would choose principled; one who believes in and lives by a set of principles, does not willingly violate those principles without some regret, and self-corrects when necessary.

"adjective: 1(of a person or their behavior) acting in accordance with morality and showing recognition of right and wrong: a principled politician; 2(of a system or method) based on a given set of rules: a coherent and principled approach http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/principled

Your inclusion of regret in your description implies conscience, but the word conscientious is more often used to describe attention to detail and overall thoroughness, and is not appropriate.

share|improve this answer
    
I do not think your words include in the meaning that the person corrects oneself quickly. –  dt1510 Jul 29 '13 at 14:19

Consider self-policing

a process where individuals or groups provide their own discipline and enforce it without outside help.

While the definition does not specifically convey immediacy, the concept of policing suggests a regular review

to observe or record the activity or enforcement of: a committee was set up to police the new agreement on picketing

share|improve this answer

Conscientious

  • having strong moral principles and being certain
  • not resting until the job is done and done right
  • being loyal to families, causes, and superiors
  • working hard to do well achieving and accomplishing things
  • loving to work and be challenged
share|improve this answer
  1. Introspective

  2. Self-correcting

automatically adjusting to or correcting mistakes, malfunctions

This applies more to systems, I think.

share|improve this answer

A good biblical word is repent (or repentance or repentant).

To repent is to demonstrate your regret for having done something wrong by unhesitatingly doing the right thing.

The word translated as ''repentance'' is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia), "after/behind one's mind" . . . [and] the whole compound means: 'to think differently after'. Metanoia is therefore primarily an after-thought, different from the former thought; a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct, "change of mind and heart", or, "change of consciousness" (from Wikipedia).

Repent is admittedly an old-fashioned word, and most people (I imagine) would feel uncomfortable using it in everyday speech. The word nevertheless describes exactly what you describe.

"He was truly repentant for his actions, and without hesitation he did the right thing."

"His repentant attitude was quite evident by his change in behavior."

John the Baptist: "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance . . .."

share|improve this answer

resolute -admirably purposeful, determined and unwavering.

Apple dictionary Version 2.2.3 (118.5).

share|improve this answer
    
Mirroring the comment to the other answer, would you please include any relevant links (e.g. with example) and a link to your (presumably quoted) definition to confirm the validity of your answer? –  TrevorD Jul 29 '13 at 13:41
    
You can be resolute, determined and insist on doing evil, similarly your purpose can be sinister. –  dt1510 Jul 29 '13 at 14:21
    
@dt1510 but presumably only admirable to fellow evil-doers. –  Qube Jul 29 '13 at 14:28

consider: ADAPTIVE or maybe: IMPROVISATIONAL

share|improve this answer
    
A good answer provides more information than this. We highly welcome reasons, explanation, and reliable sources which make it easier for the OP and the community to evaluate the correctness of the answer. –  MετάEd Jul 30 '13 at 4:40

Atone for something a phrasal verb meaning: to do something that shows that you are sorry for something bad that you did: The country's leader has expressed a wish to atone for his actions in the past.

Ask (for someone's) forgiveness the act of excusing a mistake or offense

These two expressions are very similar to repentant which in his edit the OP acknowledged was one of the two answers which came closest in meaning. My suggestions do not consist of one word, but their meanings are, I believe, the one you are looking for.

You have had an argument, then you realize that what you did to your friend was wrong and he was right. Without any thinking at that very second you run back to your friend saying: "I am sorry I have done wrong" asking for his forgiveness/apologizing for your behaviour.

Thus you would say: "I atoned for the bad things I did to you."

Or you could equally say: I ask for your forgiveness for the bad things I did."

share|improve this answer

Sounds like a mix of resilient and self-aware. Resilient being:

recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant.

And self-aware being:

conscious of one's own feelings, character, etc.

Tenacious also comes to mind, but probably has a more negative connotation than the term the OP is going for.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.