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.

Is there a single word describing someone who is like a frog in a well? The frog believes the well is the entire world. How can I describe people who think that their own small environment is the entire world?

share|improve this question
    
Are you looking for something negative, or more neutral? –  Jim Dec 12 '11 at 18:44
1  
There is also a Sanskrit word which could be transliterated as koop-mundook (literally, frog in a well) for which Ankit could be seeking an English equivalent. Since Sanskrit and Latin are in the Indo-European group of languages, is there something similar in Latin that could have descended into English? –  Dilip Sarwate Dec 12 '11 at 23:13
    
@DilipSarwate Or, since English is a Germanic language, is there something similar in Proto-Germanic that could have descended into English? –  phoog Dec 13 '11 at 2:18
    
I have no suggestion on my own but I do not like most of the existing suggestions. The frog in the well is not aware that there is a world outside the well. "Parochial," for example, is about knowing that there is a world outside but not being interested. "Blinkered" is perhaps the best except that being blinkered is the result of someone else's actions. –  user15964 Dec 13 '11 at 17:05
    
This reminds me of Plato's Allegory of the Cave. –  David Cary May 17 at 18:04

9 Answers 9

up vote 41 down vote accepted

Synonyms of parochial, "characterized by an unsophisticated focus on local concerns to the exclusion of wider contexts", may serve. Such synonyms include confined, insular, limited, local, narrow, narrow-minded, petty, provincial, regional, small-minded, isolated.

Insular, for example, has a sense that means "separate or isolated from the surroundings; having little interaction with external parties; provincial." Narrow-minded and small-minded are of course easily understood, and so would be close-minded.

Blinkered, fitted with blinkers, or "eye shields attached to a hood for horses, to prevent them from seeing backwards and partially sideways", is another possibility, as are formations from synonyms blinders and winkers.

Edit: Also consider monomania, "excessive interest or concentration on a singular object or subject" or "a pathological obsession with one person, thing or idea"; obsession, "compulsive or irrational preoccupation; an unhealthy fixation"; idée fixe;
tunnel vision, "an extremely narrow point of view; narrow-mindedness"; and locked-in.

share|improve this answer
2  
+1 for parochial. –  FumbleFingers Dec 12 '11 at 19:03
5  
'provincial' and 'narrow-minded' are my choices from your list. –  Mitch Dec 12 '11 at 19:26
1  
This an excellent answer! –  Pureferret Dec 13 '11 at 11:44

I would add myopic to @jwpat7's excellent list.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for myopic, the nearsightedness is much more descriptive of the predicament. –  zzzzBov Dec 13 '11 at 3:22

One term you could use is isolationist, although isolationism is used mostly to describe countries who do not interact internationally and focus on themselves. It might be understood when used to describe people, however.

share|improve this answer

Depending on how far you want to take your analogy, you could label the frog a solipsist.

share|improve this answer
1  
I was thinking the same thing, though arguably, if there were more than 1 frog in that well, he'd have a harder time maintaining the viewpoint that he were the centre of his universe... –  Tom Auger Dec 12 '11 at 22:22

I believe "provincial" is the best match for what you are asking for, but only if you want a pejorative term. Although, I find it hard to imagine making this observation about someone and it not being intended pejoratively.

share|improve this answer

I was thinking more navel-gazing...except that frogs don't have navels to my knowledge.

share|improve this answer

I would go for "self-centered and lacking in situational context".

A more colloquial term would be that the person is "wearing blinders", which comes from horses wearing blinders to prevent them from seeing things that could potentially startle or alarm them.

Another term would be that the person "has buried their head in the sand" which refers to the (false) legend that ostriches bury their heads in the sand to avoid danger.

share|improve this answer

Consider:

I would call him Introvert and blinder as well.

share|improve this answer

Consider small-town and shortsighted.

small-town: limited in outlook or experience; unsophisticated; provincial.

shortsighted: lacking foresight or scope.

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist Jul 6 at 23:52

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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