I am looking for an adjective akin to "loyal" and "disloyal" in that it describes someone's exact null association with both words. Someone or something with no allegiances whatsoever, a goes-with-the-highest-bidder kind of person. Someone or something that can be the perfect model companion or machine or tool or concept, and then without warning he/she/it may whimsically and deliberately, yet completely uncomprehendingly, do something utterly devastating or infuriating to you, and have no idea that you may have considered it wrong, or even may have legitimately believed they were going out of their way to act in your favor.

Benevolent, though perhaps unwittingly and unpredictably deleterious.

The words I am looking for are not these: "non-partisan", "ambivalent", "apathetic".


7 Answers 7


The word that comes to my mind is nonaligned.

Someone willing to work for any side that pays them, regardless of ideology, might be described as mercenary.

  • Can you explain why "nonaligned" fits? I never heard it in everyday speech for this context. Can you call your friend nonaligned? Isn't it a political term?
    – ermanen
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:11
  • It's more commonly used to refer to nations that haven't allied with a particular side of a conflict, but it seems like it could extend to people and would be understood analogously.
    – Barmar
    Oct 23, 2014 at 16:32

In sports and a variety of other industries, such a person is known as a "free agent".


In some situations, such people could be described as unaffiliated, independent, beholden to no-one, or owing their loyalty to no-one. They might also be considered to be free spirits or free agents.


Such a person is self-serving (Merriam-Webster):

serving one's own interests often in disregard of the truth or the interests of others

You could also say that they were mercenary (Merriam-Webster), which has a much more aggressive implication:

one that serves merely for wages; especially : a soldier hired into foreign service

We tend to think of psychopaths and sociopaths as violent monsters, but Psychology Today has this definition (my emphasis):

First a bit of terminological history, to clear up any confusion about the meanings of “sociopath,” “psychopath,” and related terms. In the early 1800s, doctors who worked with mental patients began to notice that some of their patients who appeared outwardly normal had what they termed a “moral depravity” or “moral insanity,” in that they seemed to possess no sense of ethics or of the rights of other people. The term “psychopath” was first applied to these people around 1900. The term was changed to “sociopath” in the 1930s to emphasize the damage they do to society. Currently researchers have returned to using the term “psychopath.” Some of them use that term to refer to a more serious disorder, linked to genetic traits, producing more dangerous individuals, while continuing to use “sociopath” to refer to less dangerous people who are seen more as products of their environment, including their upbringing. Other researchers make a distinction between “primary psychopaths,” who are thought to be genetically caused, and “secondary psychopaths,” seen as more a product of their environments.

Such people typically appear 'normal' as long as nothing contradicts their desires: when it does, they follow their own ends without regard for other people.

  • The anonymous downvoter strike again, a sign of cowardice hiding behind your screen if you ask me. The reasons for voting up are 'This answer is useful'. Would the downvoter kindly explain how my answer is less useful than some of the other answers here? Or perhaps you're a psychopath who possesses no sense of ethics or the rights of other people? See above.
    – Mynamite
    Oct 23, 2014 at 10:19

Knave, Yeoman, Mercenary, Bandit, Bounty Hunter, Merchant, Freelancer, Freeholder, Soldier of Fortune, Hireling, Condotierre, Pioneer, Pilgrim, Rogue, Swashbuckler, Pirate, Charlatan, Exile, Outlaw, Rebel, Non-conformist, Anarchist, Entropic, Chaotic, Neutral, Ronin, Madcap, Eccentric, Maniac, Lunatic (on the grass!), Wanderer, Vagabond, Vagrant.

Yeah, I'd go with Vagrant.

EDIT: The question title leans towards a noun, but I missed the part where you said adjective. Perhaps unpredictable is the word you're looking for. Yet sometimes these words work both ways - Mercenary is a noun and an adjective with similar meaning.

  • Disclaimer: I stole "Ronin" from Joe Dark to make the list more thorough.
    – perry
    Oct 22, 2014 at 22:29
  • 2
    I caught a glimpse of your list in my notification center upon returning to my phone and I thought I was being awarded various SE badges...... Knave, Yeoman, Mercenary, Bandit... =] Oct 22, 2014 at 23:12
  • What, no panthan? Oct 23, 2014 at 4:50

Fickle is the first adjective that came to my mind. Inconstant can be considered also.

Changing frequently, especially as regards one’s loyalties, interests, or affection:

Web patrons are a notoriously fickle lot, bouncing from one site to another on a whim


People who are fickle change their minds so much you can't rely on them. If your best friend suddenly decides that she doesn't like you one week, and then the next week she wants to hang out again, she's being fickle.

You can't exactly count on things — or people — that are inconstant, since they vary or waver so much. Someone who's inconstant is fickle or even undependable. An inconstant friend might promise to come to your party and then fail to show up because she suddenly felt like going bowling instead.



wow, hurt my brain trying to think of an answer to this one lol.

Ronin is the only thing I can think of atm.

Maybe you can make a new word up for it?


  • 5
    Call me ignorant but I had to look up the word ronin, a definition would have been nice. An explanation and justification even better. TA and OT why do people assume that everyone knows everything? Please use full words, "at the moment", AKA ATM, is not unduly lengthy or tiring to type. Thanks!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 23, 2014 at 4:54

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