I'm trying to write a letter to the editor of my local paper about their report of a man who doesn't think the rules apply to him. Is there a word for this? He's a bit of an egoist, demanding to speak at city council meetings after the public hearing portion of the meeting has been closed.

  • Elitist is one. – Adam Mar 18 '11 at 14:32
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    Arrogant, self-centered, egotistical, anarchist (or maybe not), "above the law", etc. – Adam Mar 18 '11 at 14:36
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    Banker - Politician – user5531 Mar 18 '11 at 14:57
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    Prospective criminal, soon-to-be jail resident? – timur Mar 18 '11 at 15:11
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    Some people, not necessarily me, might consider that to sound a bit pretentious. – Adam Mar 18 '11 at 15:33

24 Answers 24


For one-worders, I like @Robusto's "self-important" and @Nick's "presumptuous."

I'll add "inconsiderate," since I don't see that it's been added yet.

I've also described people with similar tendencies as "having an unjustified sense of entitlement," though I usually leave out "unjustified."

"scofflaw" is a fine word, but it's almost an archaic usage. I just haven't heard it in non-facetious, non-ironic usage in USAmerican language. "bumptious" falls into this category as well. Nothing wrong with the word, but not used much. It can be used. Maybe you'll use it and start a trend. Of course then it might become a cliché .

"sociopath" is probably the correct diagnosis, and so has the advantage of being literally correct. Probably a bit inflammatory (unless you mean to be inflammatory, in which case, have at it).

I don't feel "loose cannon" is correct here, unless the OP has a different sense of the person in question than I'm getting. Usually a loose cannon is someone who is institutionally entrenched and whose character is endangering either the institution or those it comes it contact with.


scofflaw : –noun 1. a person who flouts the law, especially one who fails to pay fines owed. 2. a person who flouts rules, conventions, or accepted practices.


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    In my eyes, the connotation on scofflaw implies the scofflaw is villainous, not just ignorant of the law. – jamesbtate Mar 18 '11 at 18:05
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    @puddingfox: I think that connotation is compatible with the question's description. – MrHen Mar 18 '11 at 18:42
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    @puddingfox: it sounds to me that the person in question is well aware of the law, but pretends that it does not apply to him... – nico Mar 18 '11 at 20:42
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    That doesn't sound right at all. He'd be a scofflaw if he were deliberately ignoring the civil or criminal law, but he's merely trying to bend parliamentary procedure. – jprete Mar 19 '11 at 2:15
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    Couldn't you simply use scoff: treat with contemptuous disregard; "flout the rules" – Kredns Mar 19 '11 at 3:22

You could try self-important.


Perhaps bumptious or presumptuous


What—nobody thought of "pompous"? From Webster:

pompous - having or exhibiting self-importance : arrogant


Sociopath could be a possibility.

  • ) I think you're right, though probably not the best thing to say in a letter. – jbelacqua Mar 18 '11 at 15:22
  • had to say it for completeness :P – tenfour Mar 18 '11 at 15:25
  • Ha - I think it is the best shorthand for the fellow, based on the description. – jbelacqua Mar 18 '11 at 15:29
  • The definition of the word is probably fitting, although I think it would convey the wrong magnitude of severity. – Ben Collins Mar 18 '11 at 15:52

Perhaps not a single word, but a phrase: your man is acting with impunity. Quite literally; as if the laws of the meeting don't apply to him.


exemption or immunity from punishment or recrimination

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    interesting. I wonder if impunity can be modified to be a character quality, like "impunitous" or something. – Ben Collins Mar 21 '11 at 18:51

The word renegade comes to my mind.


How about


That would seem to fit the bill.


Insensitive? Insensible? Callous, as in "callous disregard"?


You can use egocentric, or egocentristic.


A "Maverick" is someone who thinks the rules don't apply to them.

The lead character in the movie Top Gun probably earned his callsign "Maverick" by being a maverick. While I expect the term didn't originate in that movie, the phrase "God damn it, Maverick!" has certainly secured a place in populate culture.

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    The term predates Top Gun. – Jerry Coffin Mar 20 '11 at 6:26

A common epithet in use for such a person, and which captures the exact attitude of self-aggrandisement, is God-almighty.

OED defines them as one who poses or is regarded by others, chiefly derisively, as omnipotent.


Deluded, entitled, overgrown spoilt brat.

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    Welcome to EL&U. We strongly prefer answers which offer detailed explanations, with links to references as many be suitable. The help center will offer additional guidance on how to best use this site. – choster Mar 11 '14 at 16:34

He's a loose cannon:

an unpredictable or uncontrolled person who is likely to cause unintentional damage.

-New Oxford American

a person whose reckless behavior endangers the efforts or welfare of others.


(My initial answer was going to be maverick, but this led me to loose cannon and I liked it better.)


What about misfit since you said 'rules doesn't apply to him'?


I like recalcitrant and contumacious, but then I'm addicted to syllables.

  • If someone is recalcitrant, he is resisting against something that is being imposed upon him, or unwilling to do something. This is not the case here. A general law or convention exists and he goes deliberately against it. He is not "resisting" so much as "violating", which is different. – Sylverdrag Mar 19 '11 at 4:44

Or a (self-centered) eccentric ?

Does "eccentric" really have positive connotation?

Nobody better encapsulates Google’s ambitions, its ethics, and its worldview. At the same time, Page can be eccentric, arrogant, and secretive. Under his leadership, the company will be even harder to predict.

From Wired

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    "eccentric" usually has a sense of being benign, and might not be sufficiently critical for this case. – jbelacqua Mar 18 '11 at 15:32
  • Yeah - it's kindof a euphemism for weird. (Euphemism implying that it's not a negative word) – Adam Mar 18 '11 at 15:34
  • @jgelacqua, "eccentric" doesn't always have such connotation. Please see the quote from Wired. – Fountain Mar 19 '11 at 14:56
  • even in that case, "eccentric" is used to highlight unpredictability, not as a negative label in itself. In business terms, Page's eccentricity is part of a set of characteristics which the writer doesn't expect to be entirely benign. He could also be a sky-diver and rock climber -- not negative, but negative if you're looking for someone safe and predictable. – jbelacqua Mar 22 '11 at 23:14

May be a bit extreme but: psychopath or megalomaniac


I kind of like "self-important gadfly", but that's just me. "Gadfly" can have positive connotations when not qualified.


How about Rebel? Rebels resist convention.

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    Hmm. I think this typically has a slightly positive connotation. (E.g, James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.) It's not a compliment, but seems akin to "swashbuckling" in many usages. I usually hear it now used facetiously, as a dig on someone's barely-there or merely slight deviation from a typical convention (like adding honey instead of the office-supplied sugar to one's office coffee -- "Sam, you're such a rebel"). – jbelacqua Mar 18 '11 at 15:39
  • I would go even farther as to say that it is a compliment. – Adam Mar 18 '11 at 15:53
  • I agree about the positive connotation part. Thanks @jgbe :) – n0nChun Mar 18 '11 at 17:22
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    Rebel is certainly not always positive, it is only positive to one side. – Orbling Mar 19 '11 at 0:17
  • Why are all the people so adamant on down voting this one? Should I remove this answer? – n0nChun Mar 19 '11 at 4:44

Perhaps solipsist might work here?


What about just selfish? He certainly seems so.


How about prima donna, one who thinks the rules apply to others and not them.

  • Could you include a definition or an excerpt which will back up your answer? – Mari-Lou A Aug 16 '13 at 4:58

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