There is a girl in my lab who, despite having been corrected numerous times in the past, continues to disregard the lab procedures regarding chain of command. She constantly goes over supervisors' heads, stepping far out of line and creating somewhat major problems.

She is a snobbish type with an aura of undeserved superiority and arrogance that borders on a personality disorder and, if I were better read, I would have a much grander metaphoric comparison for her inflated sense of self worth. She is unwilling, or simply unable, to admit her mistakes and has an excuse or response at the ready for any and every question/action/accusation that comes her way.

Anyway, she did it again this morning and I have been obsessed over finding a word that accurately describes this behavior of intentionally ignoring and disregarding her position and the rules set forth. I feel like it's on the tip of my tongue and that I know the word, but just can't remember.

Any ideas?

  • I am assuming there is actually no formal written rule about following the chain of command. Otherwise repeatedly violating it would just be digging her own grave, and you would not have anything to worry about.
    – jxh
    Oct 10, 2014 at 21:50
  • "rulebreaker" might work nicely. Oct 11, 2014 at 15:18

16 Answers 16


Scofflaw is a possibility:

A contemptuous law violator


  • Yeah, "scofflaw" is what instantly came to mind when I saw the question. Though it admittedly does not capture all of this woman's characteristics.
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 11, 2014 at 2:10

The term I would expect to be used for such a person is prima donna.

: a person who thinks she or he is better than everyone else and who does not work well as part of a team or group
(Source: Merriam-Webster)

If instead, you want to emphasize her lack of regard of workplace order, I would suggest insolent.

: rude or impolite
: having or showing a lack of respect for other people
(Source: Merriam-Webster)


She seems, in a word, to be insubordinate, both to policy and regulation and to her superiors.

not obeying, or not showing respect to, someone who has authority over you

source: Macmillan


You're spoilt for choice, there are many adjectives and a few nouns which describe the woman's behaviour adequately. You might need to rely on a combination of two or three terms.

boorish rough and bad-mannered; coarse: "boorish behaviour"

mulish stubborn; obstinate; headstrong (if she willfully disobeys standard protocol despite regular admonitions)

truculent easily annoyed and always ready to argue or fight

obstreperous refusing to behave in a reasonable way and sometimes protesting loudly "obstreperous customers/patients/neighbors" (if she goes into a tantrum every time someone reprimands her behaviour this is perfect)


recusant A person who refuses to submit to an authority or to comply with a regulation (a bit archaic but seeing as the colleague repeatedly disobeys her superiors could be an appropriate term)

contrarian A contrarian is a person who takes up a contrary position, a person who seems to be "contrary for the sake of being contrary," especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be

Sources: Macmillan; Collins; Oxford Dictionaries and Wikipedia


Another possibility might be "Loose Cannon" which can mean a person who is out of control, does whatever they want with no regard for others, possibly creating danger for others in the process.


Matt Gutting's suggestion of the American term scofflaw probably comes closest to what you are getting at.

The girl in question is also a persistent rule-breaker. In addition, Americans might describe her as being entitled or displaying a sense of entitlement.


Nonconformist and maverick come to mind. They can both have positive and negative traits but they always disagree with others and tend not to follow rules intentionally.

A passage from an article about nonconformists at workplace: (emphasis mine)

These employees just want to rebel, regardless of the cause. They won’t follow procedure and are most likely actively disengaged at work. Don’t get into a power struggle with them. Instead, try working with them, not against them. According to Inc., “a rebel is [often] nothing more than an independent thinker who wants to make a difference in the world, rather than just following along with what others tell them. If you can put these qualities to work for your organization, you may find you have an employee who can help your organization grow.”

Still, a nonconformist can create a toxic work environment, which could drive the more productive employees—that follow the rules—away. Whether nonconformists are an asset to your business or not, they can have a negative impact on their coworkers’ morale and engagement. Company policies should always be enforced.


A passage regarding maverickism at workplace: (emphasis mine)

Mavericks tend to be poor team players and therefore low in "agreeableness', the research found. "Although individuals high in maverickism have a demonstrated ability to communicate well and influence others, we do not believe that this necessarily implies a positive association with agreeableness. Instead, we argue that for an individual to engage in disruptive and non-conformist behaviour, they would need to be antagonistic, egocentric, and sceptical of others' intentions rather than cooperative."


  • Those can be positive traits, as in someone who doesn't follow the rules because he or she is a free spirit, an individual, a rebel. The woman described by the OP is nothing of the sort.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 11, 2014 at 6:13
  • @Mari-LouA: Yes but negative too. I added more details so you can see how it exactly fits.
    – ermanen
    Oct 11, 2014 at 17:17

Rogue is another possibility.

From Merriam-Webster:

used to describe something or someone that is different from others in usually a dangerous or harmful way

From dictionary.reference.com:

no longer obedient, belonging, or accepted and hence not controllable or answerable; deviating, renegade: "a rogue cop; a rogue union local"


contumacious (kon-too-may'-shus)

adjective 1. stubbornly perverse or rebellious; willfully and obstinately disobedient.

  • 7
    This appears to be a direct quotation. If so, you should cite the source.
    – Theresa
    Oct 10, 2014 at 20:56
  • For guidance on how to answer questions on this site, I encourage you to visit the help center. Citing the name of your sources is a requirement on this network of sites, bonus for links.
    – choster
    Oct 11, 2014 at 0:51

Offender comes to mind:

n. One that offends, especially one that breaks a public law.

Insubordinate, as a noun, also:

n. a person who is [not submitting to authority; disobedient].

The first link above also leads to several synonyms of offender that may also prove useful:


At the risk of being politically incorrect, she's acting like a princess.


The term rebel is the most fitting.

Dissent, dissident, and dissension can be useful here but there are issues with there use, mostly that they aren't usually used in this context.

From Mirriam-Webster:

rebel noun
: a person who opposes or fights against a government
: a person who opposes a person or group in authority : a person who does not obey rules or accept normal standards of behavior, dress, etc.

dis·sent noun \di-ˈsent\
: public disagreement with an official opinion, decision, or set of beliefs

dis·si·dent adjective -dənt\
: disagreeing especially with an established religious or political system, organization, or belief
— dissident noun

dis·sen·sion noun \di-ˈsen(t)-shən\
: disagreement that causes the people in a group to argue about something that is important to them

For her character flaws, I would use obstinate and arrogant.

For example, "She is a rebel; she obstinately insists on neglecting the express rules of the Lab. She arrogantly believes that she is exempt from them."


How about unruly?

: difficult to control

: not readily ruled, disciplined, or managed

(Or is that generally more applicable to crowds?)


I'm always partial to the term "megalomaniac." It usually refers to someone who is actually in a position of power, flaunts it, and doesn't let others forget about it. But I see no reason it couldn't apply to a snobbish, undeserved sense of superiority, particularly if you're looking for an insulting or emotionally charged term.


The proper term for such a person is: Habitual-line-stepper.

  • You have not answered the question; you have merely rephrased the question.
    – Theresa
    Oct 11, 2014 at 19:46
  • @Theresa What part of my answer leads you to interpret it as a question?
    – user22620
    Oct 13, 2014 at 0:11

Maybe she is trying to grab your attention. Your, meaning, the plural of the whole class or whole school.

You should perhaps lavish praise upon her, telling her how charming and extraordinary she is. And then when opportune, reveal to her that she has narcissistic personality disorder. IOW, she has a narcissistic personality. The downside of your success would be the high probability that she would latch herself onto you and be highly dependent on you to feed her ego, until she finds greener pastures than you. Either that, or you would run the risk of her wrath disparaging you in social circles, if she has in additional, psychopathic personality disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), an overwhelming need for admiration, and usually a complete lack of empathy toward others. People with this disorder often believe they are of primary importance in everybody’s life or to anyone they meet. .....

People with narcissistic personality disorder often display snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes. For example, an individual with this disorder may complain about a clumsy waiter’s “rudeness” or “stupidity” or conclude a medical evaluation with a condescending evaluation of the physician

Psychopathic personality disorder would be more severe, because such a person will creatively hatch complex schemes to extract adoration, and to disparage their competitors of attention, as well as continually devising ways to wreak havoc and throw into the lake of fire for those who refuse to bow down and worship this person.

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