I am looking for a word or phrase to describe someone that didn't use their own tool, follow their own policy or use their own product, due to some ironic twist of fate. Almost the antithesis of the phrase "Eats their own dogfood."

For example, a UPS employee that chose to ship something via Fed-Ex because UPS didn't offer overnight shipping at the time. The employee made a logical and justifiable decision, so it is more of an ironic twist than anything intentional or malicious.

I considered hypocrite, but that seems to conflict with the justifiable aspect of the choice. Traitor is way too harsh and implies a malicious intent that isn't in the situation, either.

  • 2
    The close vote that says this question is a duplicate of the (needlessly-) closed question A phrase or a word for not practising what you are preaching seems to me to be misguided; the questions are not at all equivalent, albeit slightly overlapping. Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 15:56
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    Its just ironic, that's about the most you can say about it.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 17:43
  • A thief? :) Sorry, couldn't resist.
    – user98514
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 19:55
  • I'd only find it ironic if UPS also offered the necessary service. If its employee is only privy to the insider knowledge that UPS is [expletive]; then it would be hypocritical to use another. "Due to fate" should read "due to these [tools] not availing them"; necessitating a pragmatic solution.
    – Mazura
    Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 19:12

4 Answers 4


Some would call the person a pragmatist:

One who acts in a practical or straightforward manner; one who is pragmatic; one who values practicality or pragmatism.
One who acts in response to particular situations rather than upon abstract ideals; one who is willing to ignore their ideals to accomplish goals.

Others might term him or her a ditherer, or might apply previously-suggested terms turncoat or renegade, although I think related words apostate, one who has lost the faith, or defector, with its sense of disloyalty, are more appropriate. Also consider phrases like “strayed from the fold”.

Heretic also is relevant. From en.wiktionary, heretic means “Someone who, in the opinion of others, believes contrary to the fundamental tenets of a religion he claims to belong to”, so one may say, figuratively, that an employee who for some reason prefers the services of a competing company is guilty of heresy, or is a heretic.

  • I like the renegade idea. I think pragmatist works if you're trying to describe the person in the context of the rationality of their decision, but it doesn't really capture the ironic nature of the act itself. It doesn't seem like there's great word choice, but renegade feels pretty close. Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 17:09
  • @StevenMastandrea, I added heretic to my answer. Commented Nov 21, 2014 at 18:52

From what I understand, the person has decided to abort the planned course of action in light of new information.

turncoat? overthrower? renegade?

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    I think (naively) expected course of action fits better than planned. Also, I believe the OP is looking for a neutral expression, and your options have, at least to me, overtly negative connotations.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 15:57
  • Yes, looking for a more neutral expression. Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 16:19

It depends on the point of view. The company he works for can think that he is disloyal but most companies nowadays abandon that mindset. They might even encourage their employees to use competitor products mainly for competitor analysis or benchmarking.

disloyal: not loyal to someone who you have a close relationship with or to an organization that you belong to - Macmillan

From an outside perspective, you can say that he is a rational buyer.

However, there can be cases that using a competitor product is banned in some companies but it is rare:

Last year, Microsoft reportedly banned departments from purchasing Apple products, although employees weren't prohibited from buying Macs and iPads for their own personal use. Still, an article in The Wall Street Journal at the start of the current decade detailed how many Microsoft employees hid the use of their personal iPhones at work, especially in front of CEO Steve Ballmer.



Maverick I like best. Freethinker can also fit the bill.

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    Welcome to EL&U. Neither suggestion directly applies to the example given; mavericks and freethinkers refuse to follow conventions in general. In any case your answer could be improved with a fuller explanation, including linked excerpts to dictionary definitions or real-world examples.
    – choster
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 17:07

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