I'm working on a software project where we need to label people depending on their presence.

Assume an event and people are attending it, we call them the attendees.

I assumed I would call those who aren't attending the event "unattending", but when I looked it up, I saw that it was basically a synonym for "careless", which isn't right at all.

I figured I could call them "absent", but in our context that could also refer to people who are just temporarily not on site.

What is the proper term to describe people who aren't planned to attend the event?


11 Answers 11


Absentee can have a stronger meaning than just "not being on-site". oxforddictionaries.com gives us:

A person who is expected or required to be present at a place or event but is not

  • The term "absent" is already used in our application to refer to people who are expected to be at the event, but are not. We're looking for a term to describe those that aren't expected to attend. Maybe we need to re-think the whole wording of this part ;D Feb 1, 2015 at 21:02

You could use the term "non-attendee".

Non-attendees simply just refers to:

a person who is absent at a specified event.


I think the only way you can avoid giving the impression that they should be there but are not ( as happens with absentees, non-attendees etc) is to call them non-participants.

I believe that makes clear that there was never any plan for them to be there.


The term 'no-show' is common in colloquial usage. It does, however, carry an implication that the individual in question had been expected to appear. (I.e., they had RSVP'd, purchased a ticket, or made a reservation.)


The word you were probably looking for originally is nonattending, which sounds similar to unattending but actually has the proper meaning for your purpose.

Both "attendee" and "nonattending", however, do connote a certain degree of finality, as though their decision was not alterable. Depending on your software's purpose, this may or may not be the connotation you're looking for. If you're describing a person's intent with respect to an event prior to that event taking place and you wanted to indicate an intent but not necessarily a final decision, you might use the common term of RSVP, meaning to indicate one's intention to either attend or not attend a given event in the future. Using this terminology, prior to the event's occurrence you have two types of people: those who RSVP Yes and those who RSVP No.

After the event's conclusion, you then can further qualify those who had RSVP'd Yes as either "Attendee" or "No Show" (a harsher form of nonattendance, a No Show means someone who RSVP'd Yes but then failed to attend).



Failure to go to a place or event where you are supposed to go.

e.g. He was taken into care because of his non-attendance at school.

definition source

common usage source


Absent. Non-Attendees. Absentees.

As an alternative, you could also use "going" and "not going" instead.

3 Going, 2 Not Going

3 Attendees, 2 Non-Attendees

3 Attending, 2 Not Attending


Depends on context. If you are listing people who came to an event, you typically list under the headings:

  • "Chair",
  • "Attending" or "Attendees" (members who turned up),
  • "Guests" or "Invitees" (invited outsiders),
  • "Absent" or "Absentees"

The word 'abstainee' may also be used for people who are not planning to attend an even.


In your particular context, I think you might call them "uninvited."

It's not too applicable in the general context, where it generally suggests "someone present despite being uninvited.


Null? 1. without value, effect, consequence, or significance. 2. being or amounting to nothing; nil; lacking; nonexistent. 3. Mathematics.

of measure zero.

4. being or amounting to zero.

  • This doesn't seem to fit at all. If someone doesn't attend a party, you don't call him a null. Feb 1, 2015 at 19:00
  • Mathematical jargon isn't fit for common language. "Measure" has a different meaning in Maths than it does in common usage. And "null" has the additional possible interpretation of "lacking distinctive qualities" when used in this context.
    – kadu
    Feb 2, 2015 at 0:32

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