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.

This question already has an answer here:

What do you call a person who doesn't/can't usually keep his/her word ?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by aedia λ, RyeɃreḁd, David M, Mari-Lou A, Brian Hooper Mar 12 at 6:50

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

1  
What about traitor? –  Stan Mar 11 at 14:41
1  
promise breaker –  ermanen Mar 11 at 14:51
    
I'm not sure but I think you should check out "disloyal" or "not trustworthy" –  PbxMan Mar 11 at 15:28
    
Actually I wanted to put more emphasis on "CAN NOT" portion of my question. A person who CAN NOT keep his word. Traitor sounds intentional and disloyal as well. "RENEGER" as mentioned in another post sounds quite close to what I want - maybe so –  Tanvir Mar 11 at 16:08
    
A "politician". –  d'alar'cop Mar 12 at 3:42

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

A liar if you want a simple term.

If it is someone who regularly makes promises and doesn't live up to them they are a renegger.

You may also see a moderately offensive (to some) term Indian Giver which is a reference to Native Americans. This term was very popular before the PC movement.

And if it is someone who doesn't pay their bets they are a welcher.

share|improve this answer
1  
Liar implies deception when there may be none intended so I don't think that's a good fit, IMO. Indian giver isn't really appropriate either since it's not someone who backs out of a promise, it is someone who takes something back that they've given you (in its generally understood usage). Renegger and welcher are good, though! :-) –  Kristina Lopez Mar 11 at 15:08
3  
I dare you to use the word renegger where I am from! –  RyeɃreḁd Mar 11 at 15:10
    
@Ryebread That's a pronunciation issue! –  David M Mar 11 at 15:15
    
I dare you to pronounce it right too. –  RyeɃreḁd Mar 11 at 15:16
    
@KristinaLopez I would argue that not keeping your promises is a lie. It's not like you'd call this person a bald-faced liar, but you wouldn't call what they're doing truthful either. It's like a sin of omission, it's still a sin. –  David M Mar 11 at 15:18

I would usually call them a Flake.

Edit:
Per David M's Request:

Urban Dictionary

n. An unreliable person; someone who agrees to do something, but never follows through.
1. John called in sick to work again today. He's such a flake.
2. Mary said she would do the research for our project, but it's been a week and she hasn't done a thing. She's such a flake.

Dictionary.com

-5. slang chiefly ( US ) an eccentric, crazy, or unreliable person

share|improve this answer
    
That is a good one, too. But, can you provide a definition or reference just for completeness. –  David M Mar 11 at 14:51

Such a person is 'untrustworthy'

share|improve this answer

A "welcher" is someone who backs out of a commitment. Since it's origin may refer to the Welsh people, this may be considered offensive.

Per Dictionary.com, from the verb "welsh" or "welch":

verb (used without object)

Informal: Sometimes Offensive.

  1. to cheat by failing to pay a gambling debt: You aren't going to welsh on me, are you?

  2. to go back on one's word: He welshed on his promise to help in the campaign.

Origin: 1855–60; perhaps special use of Welsh

share|improve this answer
    
Yeah, Welsh bashing has been a major issue of late! ;-P Actually, this might make a great question: what are some commonly used terms with racist origins. –  David M Mar 11 at 15:22

A promise-breaker would probably have the clearest meaning of them all, but it's not the 'one word' you might be looking for. Reneger is a good alternative.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/reneger

share|improve this answer

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