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I'm looking for a word (a noun) to describe a person who faces the challenges of life (small and large) courageously despite the risk of failure.

It would be nice if this noun does not necessarily imply that the person has experienced setbacks himself, rather that this wisdom of having courage could also have sprung out of reflection about possible risks. But that's just a bonus.

I'll be using the word as the name for a character type in a game (other characters include saint and criminal), so it needs to be a single noun.

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resilient –  hippietrail Dec 3 '13 at 15:29
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Oops didn't notice you wanted a noun. You should use the noun tag. In Australian English there is a perfect colloquial term, though it might not be much used these days, battler. –  hippietrail Dec 3 '13 at 16:00
    
Stubborn, muleheaded. –  Mitch Dec 4 '13 at 0:36
    
Steve Jobs (Not a single word though). –  Dilawar Dec 6 '13 at 5:34

29 Answers 29

Tenacious.

This does imply resistance, and acting against that resistance.

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Same as for other comments: I forgot to mention that I need the word to be a noun. Thanks for trying to help though. –  Bentley4 Dec 3 '13 at 15:21
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@Bentley4 I don't quite follow what the problem with tenacious is... what's the ambiguity? –  Juan Mendes Dec 3 '13 at 17:26
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I need the word like in the context of a game. There are different characters e.g. a saint, a criminal, ... . But tenacious doesn't fit. You'd have to say a tenacious person. And that's not one word. –  Bentley4 Dec 3 '13 at 22:05
    
Well then, Tenac? ;) –  SF. Dec 4 '13 at 15:56
    
Tenacious D is a noun, if that helps. ;) –  Suman Dec 4 '13 at 19:22

Off the top of my head:

  • Fighter implies that a person is suffering or has suffered hardships but will persevere.
  • Trooper is someone who keeps going despite difficulty.
  • Risk taker implies daring, possibly with a slightly negative connotation.
  • Determinator is a (highly informal) term for, well, someone who is determined.
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+1 for trooper/fighter depending on context. –  Rob Dec 3 '13 at 17:11
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I think trooper is the closest, least ambiguous of the words. –  Juan Mendes Dec 3 '13 at 17:25
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The Australian battler matches up nicely with this as does the verb phrase to soldier on. –  hippietrail Dec 4 '13 at 5:06
    
+1 For trooper. I think that's exactly the right term. –  Ben Lee Dec 6 '13 at 19:35
    
Except that it's 'trouper' in this context: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trouper –  Jim Mack May 12 at 23:17

If your main criteria is for a word to sound like a person's name, you probably don't want to go for Indefatigability.

Instead, I'd suggest, "Stalwart":

noun
  1. one who has a strong build
  2. one who firmly supports a cause
    "the stalwarts of the Labour Party"

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Perhaps striver. This reference defines strive as

  1. to exert oneself vigorously; try hard: He strove to make himself understood.
  2. to make strenuous efforts toward any goal: to strive for success.
  3. to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict; compete.
  4. to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance: to strive against fate.
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The word 'strever'(the equivalent of 'striver' in dutch) has a distinct negative connotation. It's a person who tries really hard in terms of having good grades as a compensation for lack of social skills. That's actually not a bad thing imo but it's used by people (usually teens) who try to lower the social status of socially inept people because they don't behave as they wish they'd do (because they cannot attain high grades themselves or are not 'headstrong' enough. similar to women of higer social status in a small social group calling the other 'slut'.) –  Bentley4 Dec 3 '13 at 15:06
    
So because the word is not commonly used in the English language and could be interpreted negatively by people with a dutch background I prefer not to use it. –  Bentley4 Dec 3 '13 at 15:08

I'm looking for a word (a noun) to describe a person who faces the challenges of life (small and large) courageously despite the risk of failure.

For example, someone trying to reconcile with their estranged wife while at the same time outsmarting a gang of faux-German terrorist thieves? Such a person is a "diehard". (Though this can imply also that they are a conservative person who clings to the past.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Hard_(franchise)

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+1 for 'most likely to cause a game developer to get a cease-and-desist letter' –  user3490 Dec 4 '13 at 13:39

Survivor, noun

  1. A person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

Unrelated, but the first definition from the link - really? In High School my English teacher would have been up in arms - "You can't use a word to define the word!"

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"You can't use a word to define the word!" ? The first definition you linked does not use survivor, it uses survive which itself is not defined in terms of the word survivor, so there's no infinite recursion there. Actually the <noun> = thing/person that <verb> pattern for definitions is really common in most languages. –  Bakuriu Dec 4 '13 at 7:08

Did you consider a persevering or persisting person?

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Nice, but I need it in one word and it should not be able to be interpreted differently then a noun without context. –  Bentley4 Dec 3 '13 at 15:15

What about something like:

perhaps?

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A champion is someone who fights for someone or something besides themselves, which is something not specified by OP's request. –  The Photon Dec 4 '13 at 0:29
    
+1 for hero. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hero: "1. d) one who shows great courage" –  Ergwun Dec 4 '13 at 0:36
    
Not sure of Champion but he seems like a Hero..hence +1 –  Preetie Sekhon Dec 4 '13 at 6:11

Any of these?

  • Persister
  • Insurgent
  • Battler
  • Competitor
  • Gladiator
  • Contender
  • Challenger
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Now that I know your restrictions, I think I have the right word.

Desperado

Spain created the Camino Real from Mexico to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1598. Camino Real literally means “Royal Road”. As such the road is protected by garrisons at intervals along the road. Spanish law levied a toll to travelers on the Camino Real in order to pay for these soldiers. The soldiers would stop the travelers and demand the toll be paid for them to continue on. In spanish “to stop” is “parar”. And as above “desparado” is a person that was not stopped. According to their oral history, the term desparado, described travelers that did not want to pay a toll and circled, off the road, around the military posts. The term became associated with “scofflaws”, people that openly disrespect the law. When the Americans immigrated into the area they modified the language of the region to suite. Words like “la reata” in Spanish became “lariat” and desparado became desperado. *

It doesn't match your required definition strictly, but carries a certain romantic flair that pretty much suggests what you required.

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+1 could work very well for a game character/archetype depending on the setting and flavor of the game. –  Patrick M Dec 4 '13 at 17:12

(adj) - impossible to subdue or defeat. - (Source: Google)

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How about "headstrong"

adjective
  energetically wilful and determined:
    the headstrong impulsiveness of youth

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I like this but I don't like to use a word that could be read as both noun and adjective. I want it to clear without context that it is a noun. –  Bentley4 Dec 3 '13 at 14:33
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I understand. If you are happy to use multiple words you could say he is a "headstrong individual". –  Ste Dec 3 '13 at 14:35

I would call him the brave, the invincible, the unyielding, the unflinching.

If a single word is required, I might call him a braver, or a valiant.

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Unyielding and brave are nice but can be read as non-nouns if used without context or article. –  Bentley4 Dec 3 '13 at 14:44
    
The brave one might fit, but it's not one word. Hmm... Actually, the braver is a word, meaning a brave person. Might be what you're looking for. –  Damkerng T. Dec 3 '13 at 14:47
    
"a braver" and "a valiant" are not words that will be readily understood by most English speakers. "The braver" is a valid construction, but it implies a comparison to some one other person, the one s/he is braver than. –  The Photon Dec 4 '13 at 0:27

Unflappable, Indomitable, possibly indefatigable. My concern with the last one is that it's rarely used and that the ignorant would assume it meant something completely different.

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These are all quite good but for some reason the OP wants a noun and these are adjectives. –  hippietrail Dec 3 '13 at 17:14

Tough and/or hardy could work for you.

(adj) - Able to endure hardship or pain - (Source: Google)

(adj) - Physically and emotionally strong; able to do hard work, to deal with harsh conditions, etc. - (Source: Merriam Webster )


(adj) Able to live through difficult conditions (such as a cold winter or a drought); Strong and able to accept difficult or unpleasant conditions. (Source: Merriam Webster )

Both of these words have noun forms that you could use if you wanted to.

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What would you suggest as the noun forms? –  Pat J Dec 3 '13 at 19:16
    
@PatJ Toughness and hardiness. –  Mr E. Upvoter Dec 3 '13 at 19:27
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It's not simply a noun, it's a noun that denotes a type of person(e.g. a saint) (see the original post). Toughness and hardiness are characteristics. –  Bentley4 Dec 3 '13 at 19:34

Overcomer

someone who overcomes challenges/hardship

You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You're not going under

Mandisa: Overcomer (lyrics)

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A person who doesn't sit back when the going gets tough but battles on. A person who in the face of adversity stands tall; equipped with tenacity and wisdom strives to overcome the obstacles of everyday life. A person for whom obstinacy is a virtue.

A noun to describe this hero?

There's only one type of person who fits that criteria and that's a mother.

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"A noun to describe this? 'Hero'." <end> –  Ergwun Dec 4 '13 at 0:41
    
@Ergwun I disagree, mothers are very often silent heroes (or heroines) who deserve more credit than they get. Pat J supplied "hero" as an answer, you should upvote his post! :) Ahh, I see you have. Good. –  Mari-Lou A Dec 4 '13 at 0:48
    
I'm not criticizing your praise for mothers. I just don't think that "mother" is the right answer for this question, and was trying to point out that I think you hit the best answer in your penultimate sentence. –  Ergwun Dec 4 '13 at 1:56

I suggest Obstinate. Seems to fit the description.

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But that's not a noun unfortunately. Or at least it can be read as something different then a noun. –  Bentley4 Dec 3 '13 at 15:14

Depending on the theme of these setbacks, you could call such a person a dreadnought/dreadnaught, meaning a person who fears nothing. It does not necessarily imply being irrationally overconfident or ignorant of risks, but rather someone who is dauntless in the face of overwhelming challenge.

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In a game context, perhaps

Expert

-or-

Professional

-or-

Victor


this suggestion does not seem to fit the requirements of a game setting

Resoluteness - "the trait of being resolute"

Which is to say, the person would be "admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering."

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Someone who persists in the face of any and all possible setbacks (short of the cessation of his life) is a plain "madman". Or a "robot", or a "machine".

(Someone who persists in the face of any and all possible setbacks *including* his death is a fictional figure such as a zombie or ghost.)

I think the other answers deal with normal individuals who do have some upper bound on their perseverance, and therefore do not keep going despite setbacks, only despite some setbacks.

Of course, everyone keeps going despite some setbacks.

Those who are fighters, steadfast, and so on (any admirable names for those who display courage, persistence and fortitude), keep going despite setbacks that would stop most people, but do not keep going in the face of all possible setbacks.

Someone who goes irrationally in the face of setbacks is a "fool", or "gambler". (Perhaps literally a gambler: a gambler regards losses to be temporary setbacks on his or her way to regaining a lucky streak, and keeps on gambling.)

Someone who keeps going in the feeding of a self-destructive habit, in spite of severe setbacks, is an "addict". The slang term "[X] junkie" is someone addicted to [X], whatever [X] is.

If it is not so self-destructive, perhaps "maniac" or "bum". For instance a "ski bum" keeps going to the slopes in spite of setbacks like not being able to maintain a regular job. "X bum" for any X means someone who persists in doing only X, and is not detracted by taking showers, grooming, or holding down a job.

Someone who persistently persists in some beliefs in spite of setbacks such as the consequences that come with alienating other people, is a "lunatic", "crackpot" or "X freak" for some X, for instance "religious freak".

Someone who chronically persists in living off others in spite of setbacks is a "parasite" or "moocher".

Someone who persists in annoying others in spite of setbacks, such as having numerous online accounts closed, or being evicted from apartment to apartment, is a "sociopath". Online he or she may be a "troll" or "spammer".

All of these people regard themselves as overcoming "challenges of life". The addict's challenges of life are where the next "hit" comes from. The gambler's challenges of life are swings between losses and wins, and the ensuing emotions, and so forth.

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To keep on going, means to persevere despite meeting the inevitable frustrations and tribulations that "life" throws at us. With perseverance, and a healthy dose of self-esteem, one seeks to override these difficult times. A "ski bum", a "junkie", a "gambler addict" etc. on the other hand are exactly the type of people who lack conviction, courage, self-belief and determination. They have given up first and foremost on themselves, they are not dealing with any real or imagined set backs as implied by your answer, the "setbacks" are the consequences of their actions. –  Mari-Lou A Dec 4 '13 at 8:13
    
@MariLouA To keep on going simply means to continue as before. For instance, "the battery in my watch is seven years old, but it just keeps on going". This does not imply that the battery has self-esteem. This site is about language, not about "self helpy" twaddle. –  Kaz Dec 4 '13 at 8:57
    
Fair criticism, so what is your answer to the OP's question? –  Mari-Lou A Dec 4 '13 at 9:29

Aragorn. Courtesy J.R.R. Tolkien.

Not sure if that would be possible for a game (copyright issues) to adapt that name. But I think this character in the LOTR Trilogy comes closest to what you are looking for.

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Rocky. The character from the movie "Rocky" starring Sylvester Stallone.

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Be careful, as the name of a popular film character it works but as an adjective it is almost the antonym of the OP's request! –  Mari-Lou A Dec 4 '13 at 10:59

Well, though it certainly does “imply that the person has experienced setbacks himself”, how about “Job”? Definitely a figure “who faces the challenges of life (small and large) courageously”.

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  • Warrior (e.g. spiritual warrior)
  • Soldier
  • Miles (MEE-lays - Latin for soldier), or a similar word from another language
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I was thinking bulldog, but when looking in the dictionary at the word, I see that more appropriately, it's bulldogger. Per dictionary.reference.com:

Bulldogger
Informal. a stubbornly persistent person.

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I would say that persistent is the word you are looking for.

per·sist·ent (pərˈsistənt)

  1. continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
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I think this is an appropriate adjective, but it doesn't quite answer the question because it seems the OP is looking for a single noun to call this type of person. –  aedia λ Dec 4 '13 at 21:25

You could call him a real Quixote (or Quijote), which per the OED is:

An enthusiastic visionary person like Don Quixote, inspired by lofty and chivalrous but false or unrealizable ideals.

Or, as a paraphrased translation of the RAE entry for that word, he’s:

a man who places his ideals in front of his own convenience, selflessly committing himself to the defence of those causes he considers just, without managing to succeed in this.

The song from the musical really sums it all up: someone who refuses to quit despite all hardship, someone who like the Eveready Energizer rabbit just keeps going and going and going and going.

The Impossible Dream (The Quest)

To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
To run where the brave dare not go.

To right the unrightable wrong,
To love pure and chaste from afar,
To try when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star.

This is my quest, to follow that star:
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far.
To be willing to give when there’s no more to give,
To be willing to die so that honor and justice may live.

And I know if I’ll only be true
          to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
          when I’m laid to my rest.

And the world will be better for this:
That one man scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.

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Should any of these work? A unremitting/ persistent/ tough person

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I think these are good descriptive adjectives for a person with these characteristics, but they don't quite answer the question because it seems the OP is looking for a single noun to call this type of person. –  aedia λ Dec 4 '13 at 21:23

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