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I had a math teacher in grades four through seven who was never in class.

What’s a nice word to describe his lack of presence?

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closed as not a real question by RegDwigнt Oct 24 '12 at 12:34

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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What words have you discounted, and why? –  Matt Эллен Oct 24 '12 at 8:48
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Which do you need- A word to describe the person themselves, or to describe their lack of presense? –  Urbycoz Oct 24 '12 at 8:57
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You are going to have some trouble coming up with a “nice” (meaning complimentary) word for what is essentially irresponsible and inconveniencing behavior. Are you looking therefore for a euphemism to mask the bad behavior in fakery? –  tchrist Oct 24 '12 at 12:21
    
With the answers all over the map and the comments asking for clarification unadressed, this question is unsustainable in its current form. –  RegDwigнt Oct 24 '12 at 12:41

6 Answers 6

Peripatetic - notionally means "wandering about" or walking or wandering but has overtones of Aristotelian teaching style - teaching while walking. Quite a fun term to use in this context. Wikipedia (link above) says

  • " ... "peripatetic" is often used to mean itinerant, wandering, meandering, or walking about. After Aristotle's death, a legend arose that he was a "peripatetic" lecturer – that he walked about as he taught ..."

"Occasional" - while this is meant to mean that he is only sometimes your teacher and not always present at all classes , if he is meant to always be present then the meaning moves towards your required one.

MIA / Missing in action.

Itinerant - not usually used this way BUT conveys the intention when it is obvious that the usual meaning does not apply.

Putative - implication is that they are meant to be doing the job, but ...

  • Mr Banks, our putative teacher, ...

" ..., When he puts in an appearance ..."

" ... on the occasions that he shows up ..."

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AWOL, astray, away, elsewhere, ghost, missing, no-show, vanished.

You can characterize and caricature him by adding "Mr" in front of a name:

Professor Casper (the friendly ghost, and for a math teacher to be absent is very friendly),

or an adjective phrase:

Mr Out-of-Sight, Mr Unsubstantial, Mr Ethereal, Mr Incorporeal, My Invisible Math Teacher, Mr Wasn't There, Mr Illusory, Mr Imaginary, Mr Manquant (French for "missing"), Mr Missing.

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That depends largely on where those individuals are, when they're not where they should be.

These aren't single words, but two expressions I might suggest would be:

  • chronically late (if they are simply tardy much of the time)
  • chronically lost (if they never seem to be in the right place at the right time)

The latter of those two can also be expressed using the more humorous navigationally challenged.

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Absent teacher or absentee teacher.


Schoolchildren are described as being truant if away from school without good reason. Might this also be attributed to absent teachers?

As a noun and adjective:

truant

As a verb (BE):

play truant

Source.

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On the analogy of absentee landlord you could call him an absentee teacher.

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It is not clear from the question on what aspect of the professor you really want to describe. But from what you say, he could have been a derelict teacher who never showed up in class.

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