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Is there a word for someone who really has their act together? Someone who has their time well-managed, is focused, works out, has ambitions, eats right. Not necessarily success, but there's a kind of trait that leads to it, that I can't quite put my finger on.

There's strong overlap with people who are competitive or are overachievers, but it's not exactly the same thing. "In the zone" is close, but I'm looking for a more long term or permanent kind of thing — the opposite of a slob or slacker.

Maybe there isn't a word, but there should be.

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closed as too broad by RegDwigнt Aug 30 '13 at 12:41

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I can think of lots of words to call such people, but most of them are born out of jealousy that I am not one myself and may not be suitable for this forum. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 21 '13 at 16:19
I would call that person a hoopy frood. –  ghoppe Aug 21 '13 at 16:35
I don't know if there's a word for it, either, but I would describe that fellow to my daughters as dating material. –  J.R. Aug 21 '13 at 18:47
Check out Douglas Adams and the "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" trilogy (in 5 parts). Such a person would indeed be a hoopy frood –  Warren Hill Aug 21 '13 at 20:32
I use the pronoun "Me" to describe such a person. You can use the pronoun "You" when you are talking to me; or "him" when you are talking about me. –  emory Aug 21 '13 at 22:11

30 Answers 30

up vote 20 down vote accepted

There is a concept in psychology called self-actualization. It was described by Abraham Maslow as

"the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially. This tendency might be phrased as the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming."

You might consider self-actualized

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Good old Maslow and his hierarchy of needs. Of course, brilliant answer. –  Marky Mark Aug 22 '13 at 5:32
The term isn't pretty but it seems to describe close to what I'm about. –  Keith Loughnane Aug 23 '13 at 11:38

These words are in the sci. fi. vernacular, and have been since the 1970s. link


really together guy


really amazingly together guy

They are often used together for emphasis.

That Ford Prefect's one really hoopy frood.

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The kind of person who really knows where their towel is. –  Hammerite Aug 21 '13 at 20:16
For those unfortunate lost souls that hasn't yet read The Hitchhiker guide to the galaxy"; these are not proper words. –  Captain Giraffe Aug 21 '13 at 20:50
They may not be proper words yet, but one day they will be known as perfectly cromulent words and everyone will grok them. –  ghoppe Aug 21 '13 at 21:24
This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays. –  njd Aug 22 '13 at 10:34
4 more votes then can this question be closed to voting please? –  dav_i Aug 22 '13 at 14:41

A common idiom for this type of person is a go-getter.

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Haha! I just love the fact that the referenced Wiki page actually says "One who has his/her sh*t together." Perfect answer. –  Leif Aug 21 '13 at 18:40
I like this, but it has baggage. It makes me think of a used-car salesman type but in the movie Office Space. The mental image is a guy smiling in his short sleeve dress shirt and $8 tie, books and papers held up under his armpit, and he's walking with purpose. Where the hell are you going? Calm down you're making the rest of us look bad. –  monsto Aug 21 '13 at 20:47
The simile with ball-of-fire reinforces that go-getter does not necessarily carry as much of the positivity for which the question asks. –  New Alexandria Aug 22 '13 at 3:03
@lief It seems like someone actually incorrectly edited that page to suite their needs, and it was quickly removed: en.wiktionary.org/w/… –  Xethron Aug 22 '13 at 14:38
go-getter tends to speak a bit towards inclination to action, as opposed to personal order, in my opinion. –  Edwin Buck Aug 23 '13 at 2:58

It sounds like a disciplined person.

Edit: as per the comment, a self-disciplined person is more precise.

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I'd expand on that and call them self-disciplined to emphasise that the discipline comes from within. The person has an ordered and purposeful mind and has mastered their thoughts. –  Marky Mark Aug 22 '13 at 5:34
@MarkyMark Good expansion! Thanks. I'll edit my answer accordingly. –  Terry Li Aug 22 '13 at 6:43

Squared away.

It's military slang, but it basically means one who is properly arranged, or has their act together.

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It also applies to more than people. A squared away barracks is one that has been cleaned, tidied up, and is generally ready for inspection. –  Edwin Buck Aug 30 '13 at 7:31

I've heard such a person called driven (or having drive).

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  • "Well-adjusted"
  • "mature"
  • "competent" (as user49727 used in their answer)

You can take those traits to the negative side too with words like:

  • "anal (retentive)"

  • "fastidious"

  • "perfectionist" (though that can be good or bad)

  • "persnickety"

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+1 for fastidious –  amphibient Aug 23 '13 at 1:49

I'd like to contribute: "focused".

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I usually think of focused when I think of someone who has a strong grasp on their goals and is working hard to achieve them. If that is what is meant by having your act together, I think this would be the most easily understood term for it. –  LoungeKatt Aug 23 '13 at 11:17
It's in the neighborhood. –  Keith Loughnane Aug 23 '13 at 11:31

"Am I sure I want to add another answer?" the prompt asks. Let me think... yes.

sharp 2a : keen in intellect : quick-witted b : keen in perception : acute c : keen in attention : vigilant [...]
3: keen in spirit or action: as a : full of activity or energy : brisk b : capable of acting or reacting strongly; especially : caustic [...]
6c : clear in outline or detail : distinct d : set forth with clarity and distinctness [...]
8: stylish, dressy

e.g. "I ran into Carol yesterday at the grocery store - she's one sharp girl."

from m-w.com

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Coz' every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man. - ZZTop –  LarsTech Aug 22 '13 at 19:29
@LarsTech Yeah, so that's the real question - is every girl crazy about a sharp-dressed man or every girl is crazy about a sharp, dressed man? –  Jack Ryan Aug 22 '13 at 19:51
My grandma used sharp - sparingly - to describe quite accurately what the OP seems to want to express. Then again, she's dead. –  alex gray Aug 23 '13 at 18:02

A high-flyer otherwise spelt as highflier in the US.


someone who has a lot of ability and a strong wish to be successful and is therefore expected to achieve a lot

Someone who is ambitious, determined and is destined to succeed in life. A person who indeed has put his act together.

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But, determination to succeed can be avaricious, or otherwise do wrong by their peers –  New Alexandria Aug 22 '13 at 3:04
Yes, any positive trait taken to extreme becomes negative. If my sole ambition in life is to reach the top I could adapt the adage: "The ends justify the means" but in the case of the OP's question the person being described is overall a positive one. A high-flyer has more positive connotations than negative, and is easily understood by all. –  Mari-Lou A Aug 23 '13 at 5:41

The gay vernacular has some good options, such as fabulous, or fierce...

the combination of a positive mental spirit, bold words and unapologetic actions...

or even more off-the-books, ferosh...

Meaning "ferocious", and applicable to hot guys or people with fashion sense; people who are zesty, feisty, and assertive in life; anything that is really stylish and vogue. Also applicable to anything that is just too cool to be true; things with zing, pop, wow factor and feistiness. Antonyms: douche bag 9000, douche bag squared, lame, limp, otherwise unsatisfactory, ugly. Negative version: not ferosh.

Hehe, hope this doesn't offend anyone's fragile sensibilities... but in certain circles (and increasingly, in mainstream media), these monikers would be far more effective in expressing the OP's "essence" than most of the other suggestions. ;-)

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I would use the word composed to describe a person who has their act together. For example, when someone is making a speech, people sometimes remark that the well-prepared ones look quite composed.

From MW:

com·posed | kəmˈpōzd | adjective | adjective: composed

  • having one's feelings and expression under control; calm.
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Somebody like this is sometimes called a "Type A" personality, a term that comes from an obsolete theory in psychology.

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"Type A" sometimes has a negative connotation, depending on the context. –  Ken Liu Aug 22 '13 at 17:24
Agreed. I think stereotyping should be avoided unless specifically discussing stereotypes. It tends to do more harm than good anymore. –  LoungeKatt Aug 23 '13 at 11:19
Type A is cardiological term that mean someone who is not laid back, sometimes that's a positive but it can also just mean high strung. –  Keith Loughnane Aug 23 '13 at 11:24

"Ace" generally denotes one who is an expert at that which they do. As in "An ace driver" or "An ace pilot". Though it usually has to do with a particular profession, it still denotes an all-together excellence and aptitude.

"Professional" also works, though this specifically refers to one's job, it denotes being not just well-versed in one's field, but also a sense of respetfulness in how they conduct themselves. Likewise, "Pro" is a somewhat slang term, that technically refers to someone who is very good at what it is they do.

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Someone who has their time well-managed, is focused, works out, has ambitions, eats right.

"Motivated" is an acceptable (if somewhat generic-sounding) term for someone who fits this description.


motivated (comparative more motivated, superlative most motivated)

  1. Enthusiastic, especially about striving toward a goal.

    We're looking for a highly motivated individual who will fit into our fast-paced corporate culture.

(from Wiktionary)

  • "Motivated" implies at least a moderate degree of effort and ambition but isn't as forceful as calling someone straight-up "ambitious."
  • "Motivated" implies at least moderate competence, but not necessarily any special expertise.
  • It's easy to focus the scope of your description by using it to describe a specific activity:

    "John is a motivated chess player."

    Meaning John is focused and hard-working when it comes to chess, but not necessarily his other pursuits in life.

  • Because it's a word that tends to show up in business language (particularly résumés), "motivated" is probably going to seem a bit milquetoast if used in dramatic writing.

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Sounds to me as though this imaginary person "has his head on straight."

He's also a bit of a Renaissance man, if in addition to the various things he keeps in balance he can also do a host of other things well once he puts his mind to it.

If not, he's just a "well-rounded individual."

I find him annoying.

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An "Elite"?

I knew a girl at uni who was heading for a first in Architecture, whilst doing a 20 hour a week office job via teleworking from home, was also a lieutenant in the TA which ate most weekends, did competitive fell-running-with-a-map, and had time to socialise. What I could do in an hour, she did in 10 mins.

If you're a geek, and your main strength is your intellect, then you meet someone who is not only smarter but also excels in all the areas you suck... that's what I'd call an elite. Well, I'd call someone who had a balanced mix of physical, mental and social elements an "all rounder", but if they have copious amounts of each then I'd say elite.

This guy did a 3 year uni course in one year: http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles/do-it-now.htm

Some quotes/responses from some awesome people I've met:

  • It takes me an hour to foobar "If you have 10 mins to foobar an hours worth of stuff, you just do it in 10 mins"
  • I don't have the time "MAKE time"
  • "You have to move your body parts faster, harder." awkward unintended innuendo silence
  • The fastest I can do this is in 90 mins, it can't be done in an hour! ~"I can do it in 20 mins 0_0 Don't write things down it takes too long, just memorize them. And do the working out in your head. Quickly"
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+1 This one is special. –  Terry Li Aug 23 '13 at 13:58

This one sounds a bit old-fashioned and dated, but there's the expression a good egg.

Wiktionary defines it as:

(idiomatic) A good person, someone to be trusted; a friend.

Collins says:

(old-fashioned, informal) a good person

TFD says:

a person with good qualities such as kindness; an agreeable or trustworthy person.

If someone told me, “Rebecca is a good egg,” I'd assume there's a fairly high probability that she manages her time well – that she is focused, has ambitions, eats right, works out, etc.

That all said, I think the best candidate here is the one originally put forth by the O.P., that is, the word together:

Rebecca really has it all together.

As a matter of fact, NOAD, under its entry for together, says:

(informal) self-confident, level-headed, or well organized : she seems a very together young woman.

I think that self-confident, level-headed, and well-organized do a fairly good job of encompassing the traits the O.P. is looking for.

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As much as I love the expression "good egg" I don't see it as someone who is "well-managed, is focused, works out, has ambitions, eats right" and "the opposite of a slob or slacker." "Good egg means a person who is likeable, well mannered, polite all excellent qualities but no guarantee that (s)he will enjoy academic, financial or even athletic success in life. Much better the "together" term, which can encompass all the qualities the OP mentioned. –  Mari-Lou A Aug 21 '13 at 22:58
@Mari-LouA I agree with everything you say, so I'll upvote your comment :^) –  J.R. Aug 21 '13 at 23:11
The word I'm looking for is distinct from ethically good or bad. –  Keith Loughnane Aug 23 '13 at 11:27
@Josh - which is why my bottom-line answer is together. (I'm afraid I'm getting downvoted on good egg, which was meant to be a lead-in to my answer, not my "final answer"). –  J.R. Aug 24 '13 at 1:07
@JackRyan - Did you notice that the person who asked this question – Keith Loughnane – had only one post on ELU? Only this question, and no answers. What a debut! That all-American hoopy frood is one hullava good egg. He must really have it together. :⋅) –  J.R. Aug 29 '13 at 21:08

It may not be conventional enough but, having fun, I'd describe that person as streamlined (streamlined for success). The word implies that one cannot be a slob or slacker since we associate it with aerodynamics, engineering, intention, and intelligence. It also has that sense of elegance and attractiveness, and conjures images of the kind of car that makes others jealous (ref to JBJ's laugh-inducing comment).

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Perhaps grounded - see adjective entry

Very much down to Earth (hence ground-ed I suppose), understands how to look after themselves, sensible.

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This is a Yiddish word, but it means exactly what you're looking for

There is plenty of slang, like calling someone a boss.

"Did you see how he did that? Dude is a real boss."

But any such terms will not be sufficiently formal for print or other professional formats.

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I am sorry, I'm not following. Mensch means, in fact per your very own link, "a person of integrity and honor"; a likeable and friendly person. The OP here is asking for "someone who has their time well-managed, is focused, works out, has ambitions, eats right". That is completely orthogonal to friendliness, likeability, integrity, and honor. Likewise with boss. –  RegDwigнt Aug 21 '13 at 18:30
I'm afraid you've still got it backwards. A car has four wheels, but that doesn't mean that the word for "vehicle with four wheels" is car. A thief is a criminal, but the word for "someone who has broken the law" is not thief. A politician can be dishonest, but the word for "dishonest person" is not politician. A mensch can have their time well-managed and eat right, but that doesn't mean that the word for someone who has their time well-managed and eats right is mensch. You might as well suggest thief or politician again, as clearly they can eat right, too. Same for boss. –  RegDwigнt Aug 22 '13 at 10:38
I'm assuming that, since this is the English SE, he was looking for an English word. –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Aug 22 '13 at 15:43
@BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft Engligh would not be Enligh were it not for its many loan-words –  New Alexandria Aug 22 '13 at 16:18
@NewAlexandria: Oy vey! Why didn't I think of that. I'm such a putz. –  rhetorician Aug 22 '13 at 20:51

My last answer was so controversial I'm going to throw in something slightly less objectionable:

tight: 7a : characterized by firmness or strictness in control or application or in attention to details b : marked by control or discipline in expression or style : having little or no extraneous matter c : characterized by a polished style and precise arrangements in music performance

Applying these three concepts to a person, it indicates: high control, discipline, efficiency, and work ethic.

from m-w.com

In all seriousness, this is only slightly less controversial than my 1st answer- this definition of "tight" appears in M-W (American) but doesn't show up the same in Oxford (British). I suspect this is because

tight British informal not willing to spend or give much money; mean: he is tight with his money

shows up in British English but not American English.

from oxforddictionaries.com

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I've seen the term "hyper-competent" a few times, but not in reputable circles.

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I like poised the best:

poised def: having a composed and self-assured manner.

But there are other words that convey that someone is a person of substance: authentic genuine graceful balanced charming

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If the speaker was from the US and the individual being referenced was from the US, I might suggest

All-American: adjective
1 possessing qualities characteristic of US ideals, such as honesty, industriousness, and health: his all-American wholesomeness

in such usage considering

All-American: also all-America) US (of a sports player)
honoured as one of the best amateur competitors in the US: an all-American wrestler

from oxforddictionaries.com

Specific to young athletes, an "all-American" has been voted among the best in his/her sporting class. Considered generally, an "all-American" is someone who embodies American ideals, such as a strong work ethic, honesty, and good, clean fun.

While not all Americans meet these ideals, these principles would be applicable to any "all-American" [athlete]. One should have to have a solid work ethic to be at the top of one's sport amongst tens of thousands of other competitors. You don't even need to be American to be All-American (e.g. cross country requirements for eligibility: Top 40 runners without regard to citizenship).

It does not mean, as has been suggested, that only Americans have these ideals or that all (and exclusively) Americans fit this standard, but rather that "All-Americans" are better-than-average Americans.

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Yeah. Because "time well-managed, is focused, works out, has ambitions, eats right" just screams "American!". –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 21 '13 at 20:14
I actually find this answer incredibly offensive. Somebody has their act together, and has all these positive attributes - and therefore they must be American? Must be "representative or typical of the United States"? Only an extreme bigot would think this way. –  Someone else Aug 21 '13 at 20:29
@Mr.Shiny & Passing Hippo: Actually, I'll defend this answer, only because that term does get used in this context. I won't debate it's questionable etymology, or say it's appropriate for worldwide use, but I will attest: it deserves a mention. More than once, I've said, "My tennis instructor Greg was a real All-American kid," meaning exactly what the O.P. is asking about – he had his stuff together: he was well-mannered, intelligent, athletic, good grades, the whole nine yards. I wouldn't describe him that way to an international audience, but the phrase does have the desired connotations. –  J.R. Aug 21 '13 at 21:53
@J.R. that may well be true but one also has to consider that in a very large part of the world the term American in the past few decades has acquired a distinctly negative connotation. No non-American English speaker would use this term and many would in fact understand it in a negative way, bringing to mind fat, vacuous eyed teenagers gorging on fast food and watching reality TV all day. I'm not saying that is an accurate description of American teenagers but such are the connotations attached to the phrase in at least some places outside the US. –  terdon Aug 21 '13 at 22:13
It might be worth noting that the headline lauding Neil Armstrong as an "all-American hero" came from a Scottish newspaper. –  J.R. Aug 22 '13 at 20:10

It seems to me that many new answers are concentrating solely on the single more dynamic aspect of the OP question, rather than thinking of the whole. So, in order to focus back to the original query we need to know exactly what is being asked here.

  • the opposite of a slob or slacker
  • There's strong overlap with people who are competitive or are overachievers
  • Someone who has their time (1) well-managed, (2) is focused, (3) works out, (4) has ambitions, and (5) eats right.

A get-up-and-go 1. person
someone with energy and drive and 2. Initiation of action motivated by energy and ambition

I'd say get-up-and-go; mental determination def.5 fits 3 and 4

And as for 1, 2 and 5, I would suggest that the word efficient expresses these qualities.

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Get-up-and-go might be stretching the "single word" definition a little :). –  terdon Aug 27 '13 at 17:12
@terdon You're right! :) –  Mari-Lou A Aug 27 '13 at 17:22

You are talking about someone who is a real pistol


  • Being a pistol

* is considered equivalent to competent, capable, proficient, efficient, etc.

In other words they are well-organized or competent

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yeah, but "pistol" is also used to describe someone that is a piece of work and that can mean in the negative way, too. I don't connote "pistol" with an all-around successful person as the OP described - but maybe that's just me. Actually, I like your description word as an answer, "competent". :-) –  Kristina Lopez Aug 21 '13 at 16:47
I don't think this is quite the right word; pistol implies energy and spirit to the point where the person might even be a little "dangerous" (or "mischievous" might be a better word, in a "leap before you look" sort of way). See Collins #4 for more details. –  J.R. Aug 21 '13 at 17:00
Authoritative sources aside, there is the actual use by native speakers that has to weigh in also. I have and would use and have heard it used as @J.R. put it, "in a somewhat playfully negative way". You can call the OP's person a pistol if you want, (the air's free!) but it would not be very clear that you're describing the traits the OP's described. I'm certain your audience would be confused. –  Kristina Lopez Aug 21 '13 at 17:51
Those aren't "random quotes;" it's from a book. If you don't like it, there are plenty more: "He was a pistol and a little bit mischievous" "Our mother was a real pistol. Not that we didn't love her or she us. But her violent temper and threats to kill us…" "She was a real pistol, with a few issues of her own" "Anyhow, this cousin of a friend is a real pistol. I guess she got into a bad spot back there and pushed her friends away. Even stabbed one in the back" "John's nephew was quite a pistol. Often his brother would call complaining about his latest shenanigans." It's how the word gets used. –  J.R. Aug 21 '13 at 18:45
@KristinaLopez - yeah, maybe I should have used the word idiolect instead of dialect. But there are lots of words that have different connotations to different groups of people. Today, I guess, we've all discovered one more! :-) –  Someone else Aug 21 '13 at 20:36

This question is based on a naive assumption that most people find the notion of "having one's act together" useful enough to want to communicate it often, with single word. However, most people don't think in such broad terms these days, that's why there is no word for it and there can't be.

Back in the days when people were more simple-minded and tended to generalize more, they used to call such people "good".

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I like "golden child." Not one word, but it certainly conveys success and admiration.


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Would actualized fit? An actualized person would be a person who is complete in and of himself, is motivated by wise goals, has set his priorities correctly, sees things as they are, and is not neurotic. Or maybe a polymath?

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