I'm searching for a meaningful word or expression for someone who does bad things (for example, insulting others, stealing phones...) You would say they are x.

  • This is hard to answer as written because we cannot tell whether you want a noun, or an adjective, or a verb, or some sort of multiword phrase, or an idiomatic expression — or any combination of these things. It would help us answer you if you could please supply several different kinds of example template sentences where you might use this, but leave ___ or X or something for the missing part. – tchrist Jul 12 '14 at 21:41
  • I am searching for the adjective exactly. e.g : Christopher is ____ after he got rich. Here I mean that Christopher was stealing phones and computers, but now he stopped stealing them. – Younesse Bagachoul Jul 12 '14 at 22:11
  • I don't see much (only one response so far to my eyes) addressing the last part of the question ("in the process"). In that case, a reforming character (in place of a reformed character) could indicate that it's "in process". If the bad behavior was compulsive, you might say 'recovering'. – Glen_b Jul 14 '14 at 1:16
  • Chrisopher is breaking good after he got sick. – Bitfool Jul 14 '14 at 2:41
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    Question body does not match question title. Also, what is the context and what words have you already tried but found wanting? Vote to close. – Richard Kayser Oct 15 '16 at 2:47
  • Reformed : changed for the better.
  • Rectified : corrected by removing errors.
  • Rehabilitated : brought back to a good condition.

Look it up on Merriam Webster online.

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    Reformed is ok, but rectified doesn’t make sense here. You can’t call somebody a “rectified” criminal — at least, not without expecting a great deal of sniggering. :) – tchrist Jul 12 '14 at 23:06
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    This answer is not correct. There is no adjective form of rectified that has this meaning, there is only a verb (and it applies to the problem being rectified, not generally to a person) (and @YounesseBagachoul explicitly requested an adjective in comments anyways). You can't have a "rectified" person, or a "rectified" problem for that matter, although you can rectify a problem, and the situation can be rectified (note this is an action not a quality). – Jason C Jul 13 '14 at 6:40
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    I agree with trlkly that "rectified" is fine as an adjective, but I also agree with tchrist that it's not a correct answer. – Kevin Jul 13 '14 at 17:08
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    @trlkly "Rectified" as an adjective has very specific meanings; i.e. as applied to electronics (AC that has been converted to DC via a distinct construct called a rectifier) and the (Oxford dictionaries) adjective meaning a purified chemical substance, distilled, e.g. rectified alcohol. Even if you awkwardly stretched it to be an adjective with the meanings discussed here, you would apply it to the problem (rectified criminal behavior) not the thing responsible for the problem (a rectified criminal). So in any case it's usage here is entirely incorrect. You would never use this word here. – Jason C Jul 13 '14 at 17:28
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    @trlkly Also, 270 Google results of any query is evidence against, not for. :) Note that many results are derived from only a few obscure sources (those related to moral theology) not credible as evidence of common or correct usage, and a significant number of results are not actually the phrase, e.g. "... rectified (person ..." or "rectified, person". Note also that the top Google result is my comment here. That was not a particularly good choice of evidence. :) – Jason C Jul 13 '14 at 17:35

You might say they are rehabilitated:

1b : to restore to good repute : reestablish the good name of

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    Is there anything else you might care to observe or suggest here? Answers that are not just copypasted from elsewhere are much better than those which are. – tchrist Jul 13 '14 at 1:24
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    Got a FAQ/meta link to explain that policy in more detail? I had a look around but couldn't spot anything concrete, apart from some general controversy around the single-word-request tag. My general feeling is that the value of the answer is in identifying the specific word, and the "copypasted" stuff is just extra fluff that it would stand without. – GS - Apologise to Monica Jul 13 '14 at 1:33
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    As @tchrist suggested, this is a good start; but you could really improve it by either looking at other words which don't fit so well and explaining it better, or maybe looking at some synonyms and elaborating on them. – Matt Gutting Jul 13 '14 at 1:34
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    @tchrist - I fail to see the problem here. Ganesh copied the definition from an online dictionary. Are you seriously suggesting he should have rewritten that definition merely to paraphrase it? What purpose would that serve, besides giving you an excuse to claim he lacked a credible source? In my opinion, your "recommendation" is utterly ridiculous: Ganesh gave a perfectly good answer that matched the question posed. If you keep insisting that contributors with valid answers must meet your unjustifiable and arbitrary standards, your "achievement" will be to drive them away from the site. --> – Erik Kowal Jul 13 '14 at 4:38
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    --> The blanket command “Do not copy the complete text of external sources; instead, use their words and ideas to support your own" is still arbitrary -- the way you are seeking to apply it in this case -- despite the fact that it appears on a StackExchange help page. – Erik Kowal Jul 13 '14 at 4:40

Webster online, reformed:

1 : changed for the better

  • Can "Ameliorate: to make sth better" be applied? – Shwetabh Shekhar Jul 14 '14 at 4:59
  • @ShwetabhShekhar No. You ameliorate a situation, not a person. – David Richerby Jul 14 '14 at 10:25

If you simply wanted to say they were no longer a thief, you could use the prefix ex- and call them an ex-thief. That’s probably the most direct and easy way to do it. But that’s a prefix, not an adjective.

For verbs and phrases, you could say that someone has gone straight to indicate that they no longer engage in criminal activity, or that they had cleaned up their act.

If you wanted to introduce a sense of remorse for previous actions, then you could say that they had repented of their ways, or that they were repentant, which is indeed an adjective.

With just a touch more religious connotation follow the related words penitent (which serves as both an adjective or a noun) and repenter (which is just a noun, and seldom heard).

Further out there, you could call them a recovering thief the way they do with recovering alcoholics. That one works as an adjective.

Or if you expected their current state to be temporary only, you might try calling them a lapsed thief as has been said of lapsed Catholics, which is also an adjective.

If you were particularly cynical about their current state of non-naughtiness, you might even reach for non-reoffending or pre-recidivist. Best not said to their face, though. :)

  • For "lapsed", Google gave "no longer valid; expired . . . no longer following the rules and practices of a religion or doctrine; nonpracticing." Merriam Webster's was harder to copy/paste, but they, too, gave no indication of this "temporary" idea that you write about (merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lapse). Can you tell us where you're getting that connotation, apart from subjective impressions or personal preference? – Non-Contradiction Jul 25 '16 at 12:38

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