What is a good word to use as an antonym of 'try-hard'? Somebody who does not try to appear highly in another's eyes. A word close to indifferent, aloof, detached.

try-hard: A person who tries very hard; (in later use usually) a person regarded as trying too hard to achieve something, especially popularity or acceptance. - Lexico

  • First thing that comes to mind is modest. That is, that fits your last sentence, but it surely does not mean a modest person can not try hard to achieve something. I am not sure I see the link between those two.
    – oerkelens
    Feb 19, 2014 at 9:31
  • "quiet achiever"?
    – d'alar'cop
    Feb 19, 2014 at 9:38
  • The phrase hiding your light under a bushel comes to mind.
    – bib
    Feb 19, 2014 at 12:53
  • The closest words I can think of are indifferent, detached, aloof. Self-effacing is related but it tells a situation because of shyness.
    – Emmet B
    Feb 19, 2014 at 15:19
  • The word humble comes to mind, but that's a descriptor and not a name.
    – TylerH
    Feb 19, 2014 at 16:33

7 Answers 7


Unpretentious is a good fit for the antonym of try-hard. It can be used both for people and things.

Not attempting to impress others with an appearance of greater importance, talent, or culture than is actually possessed. - Lexico

The adjective unpretentious is perfect for describing someone you know who's modest and natural and never tries to impress other people. - Vocabulary.com

There are some near-synonyms but they are a bit different. Unassuming defines someone polite and lacking arrogance. Modest and humble are too general and have other senses. Self-effacing defines someone shy, reserved or who tries not to get noticed. Unostentatious is close in meaning but it is usually used for appearance or style, and it is a less common word.

Low-key can be somewhat an opposite also as another colloquial/slang word. When used as a characteristic trait; it defines someone calm, quiet, not-showy, doing things in a chill way.


Consider self-effacing

tending to make oneself, one's actions, etc, inconspicuous, esp because of humility or timidity; modest

Also consider reticent

  1. habitually silent or uncommunicative; disinclined to speak readily; reserved; taciturn
  2. having a restrained, quiet, or understated quality

A "try-hard" is not only attempting to appear highly, but is also putting a lot of work into it. It often has an insulting connotation, implying that the person's goal is not to be the best or succeed but merely to get the reputation for success.

The opposite of this would be someone who does not try hard, and does not care about the fact that they are seen as such. This word to me is...



I'm laid-back myself.

having a relaxed style or character


I am too lackadaisical and apathetic to give you a long answer.


Consider easy-going

relaxed and tolerant in attitude or manner


Worth considering: slacker

a person who avoids work or effort.

synonyms: layabout, idler, shirker, malingerer, sluggard, laggard...

Definitely one who does not try to appear highly in another's eyes, and is close to indifferent, while ditching the humble/shy connotations of self-effacing.

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