You have a person who has an incredible talent, whether it be cooking, writing, sports, whatever. This person briefly showed this talent but then is living their life without fulfilling their calling in life. I would like a noun and I would hope it would not only convey that the rest of the population is missing out on that person's talent too.

Note: The Will Hunting comment is a good one. 1 out of 5 movies seem to be about this type of person.

  • the reason that person isn't fulfilling their calling in life?
    – user49404
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 4:31
  • 1
    Most of the answers will reflect some kind of value-judgement depending on our personal tendencies to picture other people. Is the person busy taking care of a sick mother, raising children, or drinking beer on a beach.
    – dcaswell
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 4:40
  • Just a personal choice. Sick mother, raising children, distraught by an event, fear of something... Not a person losing their talents becoming a druggie or low-life. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 5:33
  • a persons with unbestowed talent?
    – user49404
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 5:59
  • 1
    They call him "Will Hunting"
    – TsSkTo
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 12:40

5 Answers 5


As in, unrealized ambitions or aspirations.

It's not a noun but it describes the type of person who has wasted or thrown away an innate skill or talent.

If the OP is determined in wanting a noun to describe a person who squanders his/her talents; I believe many would label that person (perhaps too harshly), as being a loser.

EDIT: In lieu of the OP's comments that the person in question is neither lazy nor immature but on the contrary; a conscientious, devoted parent and son/daughter, the adjective, unrealized, still applies. If the dream was, for example, to be a singer but through circumstances beyond their control that gift failed to blossom. It is common to refer to that person as being an unrealized talent.

Finally, if one wanted to give a more positive and optimistic edge; one could define that same person as being undiscovered.

  • Unrealized is probably the best I have seen so far. But I don't think it would do well without context - seems a little generic. I really wasn't trying to stump people, I just couldn't think of a name. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:11
  • I disagree, an unrealized artist/writer/poet/chef/dancer etc.. explains exactly what their ambitions and talents are but for one reason or another, have not yet come to fruition. In the case of Grandma Moses, who started painting in her 70s, it's clear that it is never too late for any of us "to be" who we want to be.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 4:52
  • Dropout
  • Burnout
  • Beatnik
  • Uncommited
  • Underwhelmer
  • Unrealized Genius
  • Daydreamer
  • Wasted Talent
  • Wage Slave

And there's also the concept of "The Genius Model", where a super-bright person will take a job doing menial tasks so they can reserve their brain-power for their expert tasks when they are on their own time.


Underachiever (“One who underachieves by performing less well than expected”) is a common term for a person who has showed promise of talent but hasn't met with success as anticipated. Also consider misfit and wayward, as in “wayward soul”.

  • 1
    No they still have the talent. Not an under-achiever at all. At any day they could do their calling with the highest abilities. They choose not to for whatever reason. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 5:31
  • RyeBread, I think you misunderstand. Underachiever does not imply any loss of talent or lack of ability. What it implies is that a person is accomplishing less than expected. An underachiever is indeed someone who has shown talent but then for whatever reason is living their life without fulfilling their potential, which it seems to me is quite similar to what you asked for. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 6:31
  • Isn't underachiever more appropriately used in academic circles? A promising, smart student who performs badly in exams or who stopped caring. Not sure I would use that term for a person who has talent but doesn't exploit it to the full.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 7:48
  • I think the meaning of underachiever is someone who is trying to do something (maybe halfheartedly) but is failing at that particular thing. Which means the word misses on both counts. This person is great at the thing and they are not trying to do it at all. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 14:13

Underachiever is an appropriate answer. Depending on context, underemployed might also be a good word. It's less morally judgmental, as it suggests that the situation may be due to a poor job market rather than the person's own fault.


Putting his candle (flame) under the stone or something like that which I encountered in a Dickens novel. No noun, though.

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