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I am looking to put a list of qualities together for an appraisal type system, with both positive and negative qualities. One of the words I want to place is to describe people who do not face up to problems, hope certain situations will simply go away by themselves, or bury their head in the sand.

I couldn't think of a single word that could describe this.

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11 Answers

up vote -1 down vote accepted

Not an answer, I think, but "passive-aggressive" is a personality trait that often expresses itself as you say.

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I had to google the word, but it fits perfectly with what I want! Thanks –  Codemwnci Apr 15 '11 at 10:18
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I don't agree with this answer at all. –  Uticensis Apr 24 '11 at 12:05
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"burying ones head in the sand" means avoiding hearing the truth. "passive-aggressive" means getting what you want (or preventing someone else getting what they want) by indirect means, often by agreeing face-to-face then doing the opposite. –  Mitch Jan 21 '12 at 20:09
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It's not a single word, but what about "being an ostrich"? Does it fit your request?

Originally this word (N.B. ostrich) only indicated the bird, but not has become polysemous and one of its meanings is:

A person who refuses to face reality or accept facts.

Origin: from the popular belief that ostriches bury their heads in the sand if pursued. [NOAD]

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+1: That instantly came to mind!! –  Jimi Oke Apr 15 '11 at 15:41
    
+1 this is the exact way this meaning is conveyed in Greek (στρουθοκαμηλισμός if anyone cares :)) –  Fanis Apr 15 '11 at 18:49
    
@Fanis: I care! I like Greek (although I never had the chance to study it) –  Alenanno Apr 15 '11 at 21:37
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I think the word you are looking for is "struthious".

struthious • \STROO-thee-us\ • adjective : of or relating to the ostriches and related birds

Example sentence: "The law is not so struthious as to compel a judge … to divorce himself or herself from common sense or to ignore what is perfectly obvious." (Hon. Bruce M. Selya, U.S. v. Sklar, U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit, 1990)

Did you know? "Struthious" can be scientific and literal, or it can be figurative with the meaning "ostrich-like," as in our example sentence. The extended use suggests a tendency to bury one’s head in the sand like an ostrich. But do ostriches really do this? No -- the bird’s habit of lying down and flattening its neck and head against the ground to escape detection gave rise to the misconception. The word "struthious" has been fully visible in English since the 18th century. "Ostrich" is much older. Anglo-French speakers created "ostriz" from Vulgar Latin "avis struthio" ("ostrich bird"); Middle English speakers made it "ostrich" in the 13th century. Scientists seeking a genus word for ostriches turned back to Latin, choosing "struthio."

Read more: http://www.pitbull-chat.com/showthread.php?65892-Word-of-the-Day-struthious&s=b6b25a86fdd6988797a3e78dd7cda28b#ixzz1k7dRWjPn

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+1! It's not easy to come up with collocations that would distinguish this somewhat "erudite" metaphor from straight literal usage in Google Books, but somewhat struthious finds a couple, and I'm sure there are better search strings. –  FumbleFingers Jan 21 '12 at 23:07
    
Sthruthious and struthian are two of my favourites. –  user22138 Jul 5 '13 at 18:53
    
This word simply cannot be used in this context. The most appropriate single term is '(in) denial' unless one wants to use the appropriate ostrich metaphor (playing ostrich, ostrich effect). –  user49727 Aug 20 '13 at 7:01
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"denialist" (or, a "denier") "self-deluded" "self-deceptive"

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I think the term you're looking for here is self-delusion.

self-delusion noun the action of deluding oneself; failure to recognize reality : he retreats into a world of fantasy and self-delusion. [NOAD]

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Not necessarily; it doesn't quite paint this picture: people who do not face up to problems, hope certain situations will simply go away by themselves... I would agree, though, that self-delusion is one reaction to such situations. –  Jimi Oke Apr 15 '11 at 15:43
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I would describe such a person as "an avoider", and the behaviour as "avoiding" or "avoidance".

Such a person may also be passive-aggressive, but they need not be: they may also be shy or diffident.

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To be "oblivious" or actually, deliberately oblivious is a way of describing the behavior of burying your head in the sand.

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I think 'ESCAPIST' would be an appropriate word. Also, 'OSTRICH' is a word which figuratively means a person who does not face up to the facts. I doubt if it can be used in informal context, though.

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If you're looking for a behavioral term, consider "denial."

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I would like to propose 'ostricize' as a term to mean 'burying your head in the sand' as in 'not facing up to reality'. 'Ostricize' would make a nice pairing for 'ostracize' and conjures up the proper image of an ostrich as suggested in 'burying your head in the sand'. Makes for a nice turn of words, too, like in 'Steven ostricized himself and refused to get out of bed'.

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Denialism:

In human behavior, denialism is exhibited by individuals choosing to deny reality as a way to avoid dealing with an uncomfortable truth. Author Paul O'Shea remarks, "[It] is the refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality. It is an essentially irrational action that withholds validation of a historical experience or event". Author Michael Specter defined group denialism as “when an entire segment of society, often struggling with the trauma of change, turns away from reality in favor of a more comfortable lie.”

In science, denialism has been defined as the rejection of basic concepts that are undisputed and well-supported parts of the scientific consensus on a topic in favor of ideas that are both radical and controversial. It has been proposed that the various forms of denialism have the common feature of the rejection of overwhelming evidence and the generation of a controversy through attempts to deny that a consensus exists. A common example is Young Earth creationism and its dispute with the evolutionary theory.

One who engages in denialism is a denialist.

Recent references have been made to the term denihilist as well, which isn't bad, either, but more humorous than apropos to this question.

Synonyms: skepticism, negativity, cynicism, pessimism; disbelief, unbelief, agnosticism, atheism.

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Please clearly indicate quotes as such. Do not pass others' words for your own. Content that is not properly attributed will be deleted on sight with no further warning. Thank you. –  RegDwigнt Oct 17 '13 at 21:46
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