The word opportunist seems to be used negatively for a person.

Is there a word with the same but positive meaning?


I think in the US we would say, "He is a go-getter." The word ambitious and proactive both are very positive and may fit your context too.

  • I think I have got many near words. But proactive is suiting my need for now. So, I am marking it as right answer for me. – ferdous May 5 '14 at 12:23

In the economic sphere, we have entrepreneur. More generally, we have initiative-taker, visionary, instigator, revolutionary, far-sighted person, strategist, tactician...

  • '... we have entrepreneur.' Unlike, apparently, the French. – Edwin Ashworth May 5 '14 at 9:42
  • Not even we have 'day-seizer'. Though 'King for a Day' is well known. Staying in the Latin quarter: I can't noun 'carpe diem' nicely. It's tempting to anagramise it. – Edwin Ashworth May 5 '14 at 10:01
  • Perhaps "I, decamper" for your French friend? (Ed, I carp 'em!) – Erik Kowal May 5 '14 at 10:13

For a everyday usage I think that artful may describe a person who is attentive to his own personal advantage without having necessarily negative implications.


  • skillful or clever in adapting means to ends; ingenious.

In the literary sphere, we have the Randian hero--an ideal person "who perseveres to achieve his values, even when his ability and independence leads to conflict with others."

And also the antihero, who "doesn't always think about what the right, moral thing to do - he often thinks about what's right for him."


As an opportunist takes advantage of situations for a short term or selfish gain, I don't see how another word can be positive and still mean the same thing. A similar term such as investor could be considered more positive in most cases, as it implies a longer and (possibly) beneficial outlook.

  • 1
    I don't see why there couldn't be a term for someone who takes advantage of an opportunity to benefit their community (or indeed society as a whole). – Erik Kowal May 5 '14 at 10:37
  • @ErikKowal Agreed. Even it is not for the community or someone else, a person can still be insightful and active for his own benefit but avoid taking selfish means, right? – ferdous May 5 '14 at 12:14
  • 1
    Yes. In fact, it occurs to me that social entrepreneur is a relatively recent coinage for just such a type of person. – Erik Kowal May 5 '14 at 12:16
  • Yes, thats a good point, which reminds me of philanthropist too. – Mischa May 5 '14 at 17:35

Another single word thats negative i would say thief. Its amazing how we use the same word , but we have different feelings.

  • The OP asked for a word with a positive connotation. I don't think "thief" meets that criteria. – anongoodnurse Feb 4 '15 at 7:17
  • @Chenmunka Why do you say that? It may be a wrong answer, but it's still an answer. – Barmar Feb 4 '15 at 15:45

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