I've been searching both my mind and several thesauruses attempting to find the adjective that best describes this type of person.

The term "thick-skinned" is the closest to what I am trying to convey, but that carries the connotation that he/she is callous and does not care about others.

Is there a word that describes someone who is not easily offended -- able to withstand criticism, ridicule, or jokes made at his/her expense -- without also implying that the person is emotionally callous?

  • 9
    I would consider using your term, "thick-skinned". It fits well, and when used in context does not have the same connotation for me that you seem to apply to it. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 17:31
  • 1
    Like @DigitalChris I'm not familiar with a connotation of callousness for the term thick-skinned. I consider it a perfect fit for your context, and tend to regard it as a compliment to people who can endure criticism or ridicule.
    – asfallows
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 20:57
  • "self-assured" might work.
    – Alex
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 21:57
  • Do you think "Tolerant" would work?
    – Zoe
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 16:29
  • cool? "free from excitement, anxiety, or excessive emotion"
    – user99677
    Commented Apr 9, 2017 at 18:31

9 Answers 9


good sport

someone who can accept a loss in a competition or can accept being the butt of a joke.

It is used as a noun. The definition is related to being able to take a joke but it also covers accepting criticism with grace.

As an adjective, I would say easygoing. This would describe the type of person.

relaxed in manner or attitude; inclined to be excessively tolerant

As a phrase, there is have a broad back:

not be easily hurt by criticism

It helps to have a broad back in showbusiness.

But this goes back to thick-skinned:

not easily hurt by criticism, insult, etc.

As you said, thick-skinned has two meanings. One of the meaning is what you ask but the other one is what you want to avoid. It would depend on the context then.

  • I think this best conveys the personality type that I'm trying to describe. If only it were an adjective!
    – maxton
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 17:51
  • Added an adjective also. It is mentioned in a "How to take a joke" article as well.
    – ermanen
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 18:25

Unflappable can be used to describe this kind of attitude:

not easily perturbed or excited or upset; marked by extreme calm and composure; "hitherto imperturbable, he now showed signs of alarm"; "an imperturbable self-possession"; "unflappable in a crisis"

  • this word really fits! You can even use "impertubable" :) Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 17:43
  • I like unflappable, but maybe that's because I seem to encounter so many flappable people.
    – GMB
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 18:22
  • 1
    Unflappable is more akin to 'unwavering'. One can be unwavering through criticism, but that isn't the specific implication of the word. Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 20:02

You could describe someone who magnanimously (rather than unfeelingly) endures offensive comments as imperturbable, impervious to criticism, or undaunted by insult. Related words include unflinching and undismayed.

If a verb phrase is appropriate in the context, you could also use hold one's head high to describe someone who remains composed and proud, in spite of insult or criticism.

Despite the vitriolic insults, the dignified woman seemed impervious to insult.

He held his head high, even during the personal attack.

The politician was imperturbable, in spite of the constant attacks on his foreign policy.

  • Those are good phrases, but it would be great to find a single word that best fits the definition, if it exists.
    – maxton
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 17:53
  • @maxton I added some additional options, including single words and verb phrases.
    – Ted Broda
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 18:01
  • a detailed germane answer.
    – vickyace
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 19:31
  • @vickyace Thank you! I generally supply multiple options with subtle differences in connotation, so that the asker can (hopefully) find at least one that he/she thinks is applicable.
    – Ted Broda
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 19:42

Longanimous patient endurance of hardship, injuries, or offense; forbearance.


There is the word Teflon, which has this as one of its meanings:

[AS MODIFIER] Used to refer to someone able to withstand criticism or attack with no apparent effect

It is from the trademark name for the Dupont product described as:

A tough synthetic resin made by polymerizing tetrafluoroethylene, used to coat nonstick cooking utensils and to make seals and bearings.

It is also a common nickname for politicians and public figures. See this Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teflon_(nickname)

  • Although this is a good word to use, I believe that it refers more to the idea that criticism has no lasting effect on one's reputation, in relation to Teflon's non-sticking properties.
    – maxton
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 17:43

try "unaffected"

adj. Free from affectation; plain; simple; natural; real; sincere; genuine

or "imperviable"

adj. not admitting of passage or capable of being affected

or "uninfluenced"

Not influenced; not persuaded or moved by others, or by foreign considerations; not biased; acting freely

  • Cool, I've never heard "imperviable" before! It sounds like a blend between "impervious" and "impermeable".
    – maxton
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 17:49

Firstly, I think you should use thick skinned because it can be used in any context.

Other words that can used here are "unabashed," which means not embarrassed, disconcerted, or ashamed. Look it up on Oxford or Merriam.

also try brazen, bashless and like synonyms.


This may be going at it from the wrong direction, but a person would be more able to withstand ridicule if (s)he were confident (or self-confident), or, perhaps, emotionally secure.

Another word that came to my mind was insensitive; i.e., the opposite of the somewhat pejorative meaning of sensitive (i.e., implicitly, over-sensitive).  But that suffers from the same problem as thick-skinned.


I would suggest stoic, specifically definitions 2 and 3. "Not affected by pain or distress." and "Not displaying any external signs of being affected by pain or distress."

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