In Portuguese, my native language, we have a lot of words for this kind of person, like mandrião, calaceiro, calaça, indolente, malandro, etc. We have also lighter words like preguiçoso that is the equivalent to "lazy" in English, but lazy has other meanings and can be used to someone that does things at low speed.

What words are there in English that have more aggressive power than "lazy", to call a person like that? I thought loser but that has other meanings as I see.

  • 3
    Slacker! (Anymore words would be "work"). thefreedictionary.com/slacker
    – Kris
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 8:21
  • 3
    synonyms: layabout, idler, shirker, malingerer, sluggard, laggard; informal lazybones, bum, goof-off; indolent, lazy, idle, slothful, loafing, do-nothing, sluggardly, shiftless, lackadaisical, languid, inactive, underactive, inert, sluggish, lethargic, torpid; slack, good-for-nothing, feckless
    – Kris
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 8:24
  • 2
    Intelligent people do not really think of human motivation in quite such dichotomous terms, so words like 'lazy', 'indolent' etc. are not much used by professionals nowadays. There are words which are used in the tabloid newspapers and easy enough to find if you pick one up at the newsstand.
    – WS2
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 8:27
  • 1
    In Australia, a bludger.
    – Neil W
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 13:08
  • A related question: english.stackexchange.com/questions/158399/…
    – ermanen
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 15:27

8 Answers 8


From Wikipedia on Hobo:

Unlike "tramps"—who work only when they are forced to, and "bums"—who do not work at all, "hobos" are itinerant workers.

I think bum is the ideal word you want without sounding antiquated or too harsh. If you are looking for harsh, I'd go with "useless waste of space."

  • Sounding antiquated depends on how old you are. To Gen X and later, "slacker" is the proper word and "bum" used alone as a noun sounds archaic. It's only used as part of the phrase "lazy bum". "To bum" (something "off" of someone) on the other hand, is very widely used, as is "to be bummed" as a synonym for "disappointed".
    – JenSCDC
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 0:34

Such a person is referred to as an "Idler" or a "Loafer".

He is a person who avoids work or spends time in an aimless or lazy way.

  • Yes these are used and are pretty common. Commented May 23, 2014 at 8:33
  • Idler has been formed from the word 'Idle' and Loafer have always been commonly used. Commented May 23, 2014 at 8:33
  • I agree with Veronica Diamond on "loafer". It's quite common. "Lazybones" is also an informal term which refers to a lazy person.
    – M.N
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 8:37

In Australia he'd be a dole-bludger.

  • Only if he's actually on the dole; Otherwise he's just a bludger.
    – user867
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 3:24


I would call him aimless, lazy saint, dependent.


Actually this is difficult. At the moment we deride people who don't work.
They are slackers, benefit scroungers, parasites (on society?) - the language is aggressive & hate filled (filthy dossers) - but, of course, not so long ago, not working was a badge of honour. The much loved Bertie Wooster had a London flat & a valet (Jeeves). He had no intention of working but the Wodehouse novels are still in print nearly 100 years later ("My Man Jeeves" was published 1n 1919).

So, the unemployed Wooster was a 'Playboy' or a 'Gentleman of Leisure' (although, in Moscow, in 1919, his status would have been unequivocal).

  • You took quite some trouble to post an answer, though.
    – Kris
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 13:05

a procrastinator

To procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.


In Northern Ireland we would call them "Lead swingers".


Theres an acronym that describes them: NEET

Not in Employment, Education or Training

  • This sounds like a government classification, but it doesn't indicate whether or not the individual is in this condition intentionally.
    – choster
    Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 21:06
  • Welcome to ELU! Quotations, links and examples of usage can all improve an answer’s authoritativeness. Here’s a link you can start with: “NEET” on Wikipedia. See How do I write a good answer in the Help section for more tips and tricks that can lead to upvotes. Commented Oct 1, 2014 at 22:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.