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A pessimist is someone who always considers negative outcomes of a situation, whereas an optimist always considers the positive outcomes. Is there a word for someone who, in any given situation, doesn't care about the outcome at all?

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    Your title and the content of your question do not match up exactly: there is a difference between someone who, in a given situation, is indifferent to a certain outcome, and someone who doesn’t care about anything at all. It would be helpful if you could add a more specific description denoting what type of ‘doesn’t-careness’ you are looking for, and whether you are looking for a neutral word, or one with either positive or negative connotations. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 8 '13 at 11:16
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    There are multiple dimensions to this (like any question about antonym or synonym). 'Realist' or 'pragmatist' are as yet unmentioned. – Mitch Sep 8 '13 at 15:44
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    According to most wives, the word would be husband. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 9 '13 at 18:16
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    On YouTube, this would be a Honey Badger. – fuxia Sep 9 '13 at 19:35

16 Answers 16

67

I can't think of a noun, but you can say "that person is apathetic".

Apathetic at Oxford Dictionaries

adjective showing or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern

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    Perhaps an "apathete?" "Apathist" is listed below also. – Jack Ryan Sep 8 '13 at 20:54
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    Ooh, I'll add 'apathetor' and 'apathetician'. @JackRyan – 11684 Sep 9 '13 at 18:13
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Indifferent
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=indifferent

late 14c., "unbiased," from Old French indifferent "impartial" or directly from Latin indifferentem (nominative indifferens) "not differing, not particular, of not consequence, neither good nor evil," [...] Extended sense of "apathetic" first recorded early 15c.; that of "neither good nor bad" 1530s, on notion of "neither more nor less advantageous."

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    Doesn't seem to be a noun, as the OP requests. . . – Jack Ryan Sep 8 '13 at 20:50
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    @JackRyan But it does describe a person in one word, and it fits the "doesn't care about the outcome at all" criteria. – Mari-Lou A Sep 9 '13 at 4:20
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This might not be quite what you are looking for, but as an extreme case:

Nihilist.

This stems from following nihilism (adapted from the OED):

  1. Total rejection of prevailing religious beliefs, moral principles, laws, etc., often from a sense of despair and the belief that life is devoid of meaning.

  2. The belief or theory that the world has no real existence; the rejection of all notions of reality.

A nihilist would not care about an outcome because it is entirely meaningless.

The word has some negative connotations from meaning 1 above, which may make it unsuitable for your particular purpose.

23

Insouciant

free from concern, worry or anxiety

Unconcerned, undisturbed; carefree and nonchalant

Origin: 1820–30; < French, equivalent to in- in-3 + souciant present participle of soucier to worry < Vulgar Latin *sollicītāre, for Latin sollicitāre to disturb; see solicitous

as suggested in the definitions the other words I would prefer to use are:

nonchalant

unconcerned

All of these words imply a carefree attitude in a good way and lack the negative connotations of having no feeling at all.

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    I like nonchalant better than insouciant. I'm glad your dictionary entry gave a couple other good suggestions (unconcerned isn't bad, either); it saved me from having to write my own answer. – J.R. Sep 8 '13 at 10:26
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    Yes I entirely agree. 'Insouciant' was the first word that sprang to mind. I think all three have the same connotations and I would prefer either of these to the other suggestions - because the others have predominantly negative connotations. – user49727 Sep 8 '13 at 10:29
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    Good points, although I don't necessarily see indifferent as predominantly negative (I suppose it depends on the situation – being "indifferent" to starving children would be negative, being "indifferent" about leaving your sandwich at home would not). Isn't it commonly asked: "How do you feel about that? Good, bad, or indifferent?" Seems I've heard that multiple times before. All the answers so far, though, show how hard it is to really give the O.P. what's being asked for: a noun that describes the person. Adjectives abound, but that single noun appears elusive. – J.R. Sep 8 '13 at 10:32
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    +1 Insouciant is one of the few nouns listed amongst answers. – Jack Ryan Sep 8 '13 at 20:52
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A fatalist. This does not just mean a person who thinks all things are fated; it has a derived meaning: a person with an attitude of indifference to outcome because of such a belief. An optimist hopes for the best; a pessimist fears the worst; a fatalist is resigned to what will be (regardless of hopes and fears). http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fatalism

  • Although this person in question doesnt beleive in fate either. he just doesn't care – Somesh Mukherjee Sep 9 '13 at 8:05
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In modern Internet parlance, such a person might be referred to as a "honey badger":

he honestly doesn't care.

This use of the term is based on this popular youtube video.

(Hat tip to user @balpha for bringing this oversight to my attention.)

13

1-Unresponsive

2-Detached

3-Disinterested

4-Oblivious

12

That would be an apathist I think.

9

Carefree- having no worries

On the day of the result, Ajay, being optimistic, was very sure of securing all the A grades. But Arun's pessimistic mind was busy looking for excuses to tell his parents why he flunked this time. And Aakash remained as carefree as ever and kept playing video games throughout the day.

5

How about "this person is a stoic" ?

According to Merriam Webster:

Definition of STOIC ... 2 : one apparently or professedly indifferent to pleasure or pain

  • its actually indifference to the outcome, not the perception of the outcome – Somesh Mukherjee Sep 8 '13 at 13:53
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    Stoicism refers to someone who will bare discomfort without complaint not someone who cares not a jot about the outcome. – Jack Aidley Sep 8 '13 at 16:45
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How about the adjective related to the word:

Acedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acedia

Does such an adjective exist in English by the way ??

acedious, adj. http://public.oed.com/the-oed-today/recent-updates-to-the-oed/previous-updates/december-2011/new-words-list/

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    The great poet Dante Alighieri dedicated en entire section (18-th) of the hell to the people who were so :-) youtube.com/watch?v=3UknDVBt-Eg – Pam Sep 8 '13 at 21:14
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Technically one could say a realist. However this probably isn't applicable to your situation.

  • @Mari-LouA To be honest I have no idea – akkatracker Sep 9 '13 at 12:56
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A person who cares not at all about anything "in any given situation", must surely be...a cadaver.

More seriously, there are also mugwumps, sloths, and bumps-on-a-log, all of which have some of the qualities you describe.

  • Good joke, but I'm casting my upvote for "bump on a log." – J.R. Sep 9 '13 at 19:15
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(1)Selfish A man who doesn't care about anything must clearly be the most self absorbed person on the earth. And if he is not self absorbed then refer to answer #2 (2)Dead

  • Well, this would apply on a different context. OP wants something in the middle of pessimism-optimism spectrum. – gelolopez Jun 23 '15 at 21:51
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Insouciant is a word in both the French and English language for a person who does not care about anything. In French it can be both an adjective & a noun. I don't see why one could not use it as a noun in English too. Such a person would be an insouciant. Such an noun is needed.

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If you're looking for one who not only doesn't care about anything, but is in a general surly mood about things...there's "Misanthrope", and the adjective form, "Misanthropic".

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    Except that "misanthrope" is not a surly person or a person who doesn't care about anything. It is a person who hates mankind. – MetaEd Sep 9 '13 at 20:14
  • True...I have seen it used without explicitly meaning a hatred towards mankind, but we should try to encourage the use of the proper definition anyway. A misanthrop might still be surly, but then again, they might cheerfully despise all of humanity just as well. – Zibbobz Sep 11 '13 at 13:04

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