I'm not sure if there's a word for this.

It would describe an athlete at their prime who may never get back to the same level if injured, an academic who if they don't constantly keep studying will lose their edge and may never get it back, or a technology that if not continually worked on could disappear never to appear again.

I want to use it in a sentence to describe that if you do not continually dream big, you may lose the ability and it may never return. I hope the sentence would be "Dreaming big is a ______ skill/attribute".

Does a word exist?

  • How about "Nonrecoverable" or "nonrenewable" or some synonym?
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 30 '14 at 23:14
  • 1
    You could always resort to hyphenation ("It's a use-it-or-lose-it skill", which not everyone would hyphenate anyway). Nov 30 '14 at 23:21
  • Perhaps frangible skills Dec 1 '14 at 1:27
  • A related phrase is "lie fallow": Fig. [for a skill and talent] to remain unused and neglected. You should not let your talent lie fallow. Practice the piano before you forget how to play it. TFD
    – 0..
    Dec 1 '14 at 2:27
  • I'm having trouble understanding this question; the description in the title and the second paragraph doesn't seem to match the sentence in the third. Perhaps you want precarious (insecure; dangerously likely to fall or collapse), which fits in with Sotto Voce's answer.
    – Scott
    Apr 1 '16 at 6:27

There's a term in pistolcraft that refers to skill with a pistol as being a naturally depreciating asset. If you stop practicing, you become less accurate.

'Perishable', 'ephemeral', 'elusive', 'erosive', 'transitory' and, 'evasive' also come to mind. So does, 'wasting' and, 'debilitating'. One of these adjectives should work!


The best term I can think of is atrophy.

His soccer skills atrophied during his lengthy illness.


"Out of form" is a sporting phrase, sometimes people never "return to form", "form" being the preferred standard of performance. An obvious though simple word is: lost as in "lost [art, skill]"


Consider, fugacious

fu·ga·cious (fyo͞o-gā′shəs)

adj. Passing away quickly; evanescent (emphasis is mine.)

[From Latin fugāx, fugāc-, from fugere, to flee.]


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