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I'm trying to think of a word that suggests a person who takes no personal accountability in their actions or always tries to shift blame on to some factor supposedly outside of their control.

Is there such a word?

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11  
Politician ?....... –  mgb May 31 '11 at 21:20
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7 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The first word that springs to mind is feckless, particularly the second meaning...

having no sense of responsibility; indifferent; lazy.

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It baffles me that none of the other answers mentioned the simple irresponsible.

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Sometimes people weasel out of their responsibilities or deflect blame or dodge accountability.

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True, but I'm looking more for a single adjective if possible. –  Phil.Wheeler May 31 '11 at 21:26
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Is that supposed to be "weasel", or is this a UK spelling of which I'm unaware? –  T.E.D. May 31 '11 at 22:00
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No, that's a typo -- how embarrassing on this site in particular! Will fix. –  Monica Cellio May 31 '11 at 23:00
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I've got a few:

  • a dodger
  • a shirker

In Australia we also have a 'bludger' but I think that's more to do with laziness than shifting the blame. It should be noted that the two qualities often co-exist though!

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The behavior you describe is sometimes described as "passive-aggressive".

"It doesn't hurt me," Auriemma said about the series ending. "Some people, that's just their style, they're passive-aggressive. Always wanting someone else to blame for what's going on." Apr 23, 2008 - USA Today - Geno Auriemma

(thank you, Gooogle)

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Ooh, mystery downvote! I'm guessing we have a prescriptivist on our hands. Language changes with usage. Accept this and move on. Your blood pressure will thank you. –  Christi Jun 1 '11 at 6:38
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Not the downvoter, but prescriptivist or not, I don't think you can change usage single-handedly. If there is any cross-over between feckless and passive-aggressive (I'm not convinced), they are certainly not synonyms. –  Benjol Jun 1 '11 at 6:56
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@Christi downvoted this as explained by @Benjol. My resting HR is a bradycardic 56bpm & I have a normal BP btw. –  Paul Amerigo Pajo Jun 1 '11 at 7:13
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@pageman Glad to hear you're in the best of health. My point was that I've heard this used in exactly the sense of the original description of the poster multiple times (feckless doesn't cover blame shifting behaviour in my opinion). I even supplied a quote from the media to demonstrate its use in precisely that context. Hardly a single handed usage change, but it's cool. Let's move on. –  Christi Jun 1 '11 at 12:22
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@pageman Terrible. –  Christi Jun 2 '11 at 10:51
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"Abdication" for permanent refusal of their responsibility. If it's an intermittent thing I like "feckless", as per Brian's reply (above).

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Unaccountable:

  1. Impossible to account for; inexplicable: unaccountable absences.
  2. Free from accountability; not responsible: an executive unaccountable to anyone but the president.
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You could use some of the necessary characters to explain the difference between 'not bearing responsibility' and 'not accepting responsibility'. –  TimLymington Dec 1 '13 at 21:57
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protected by RegDwigнt Dec 1 '13 at 22:18

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