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I'm looking for a single word that describes a "quietly reliable" person. i.e. someone who is conscientious as a matter of course, not expecting any praise or even mention of it, they are just habitually dependable, like a parent or friend who's always there for you.

I'm sure there are some words for it but I can't put my finger on them.

  • Are you looking for a noun or an adjective? – user66974 Feb 4 '15 at 10:20
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    What's wrong with dependable? It means trustworthy and reliable. The idea of "quiet" is something that would have to be added to any such description, I think. – Robusto Feb 4 '15 at 10:24
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    Re: Perhaps I should be looking for a phrase or idiom, not just a single word. Then why not just stick with "quietly reliable"? It's very descriptive and already concisely captures what you're after (you can save at most one word even if your quest for a single word is successful). While I doubt anyone would consider it "idiomatic", I actually quite like it (in part because it's a little on the colorful and uncommon side). – John Y Feb 4 '15 at 15:40
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    I quite like the phrase "quietly reliable". It's meaning to me is slightly different than all the offered suggestions, and also feels very different tone-wise. I'd keep it unless you had a good reason to change it. – Chuu Feb 4 '15 at 16:26
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    In my workplace the synonym seems to be 'unnoticed'... – myol Feb 4 '15 at 17:53

19 Answers 19

48

"steadfast".

This implies both reliability and a lack of drama. You could also go with "staunch", but that seems a little more likely to be not quiet.

  • "Staunch" was the first word that came to mind when I read this: "loyal and committed in attitude". Not sure I agree with the "not quiet" bit, but I do agree that steadfast is a fine word for what the OP's looking for. – delliottg Feb 6 '15 at 16:57
30

How about stalwart? As an adjective, it means "loyal, reliable, and hard-working." but you could also use it as a noun if you were specifying who the person was loyal to?

18

Stolid comes fairly close (via oxforddictionaries.com):

calm, dependable, and showing little emotion or animation

  • Could you maybe include a source? – oerkelens Feb 5 '15 at 7:55
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    I've never heard this before, but it appears to be a genuine word. It's also kinda intuitive - it sounds like what someone would say if they couldn't decide between "solid" and "stoic", which pretty much fits the brief... +1! – user56reinstatemonica8 Feb 5 '15 at 18:22
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an unfailing friend: not failing; not giving way; not falling short of expectation; completely dependable.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/unfailing

12

This is an easy one to overlook:

Responsible (From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary):

  • having the job or duty of dealing with or taking care of something or someone

  • able to be trusted to do what is right or to do the things that are expected or required

  • involving important duties, decisions, etc., that you are trusted to do

This carries the full meaning of what you are trying to say. This is a person that is not performing their duty for praise, or being especially noteworthy in their conduct, but just 'doing their job' and being dependable for things that are expected of them. It's not glamarous by any means - it's just being mature and dependable.

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    I'm not convinced this explicitly implies "quietly" in the sense mentioned in the question. – Jon Story Feb 5 '15 at 10:05
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    @JonStory I believe it does. " someone who is conscientious as a matter of course, not expecting any praise or even mention of it, they are just habitually dependable, like a parent or friend who's always there for you." I couldn't think of a better way to describe a responsible person. – Zibbobz Feb 5 '15 at 14:20
  • Indeed, I think this is the most "quiet" of the choices presented so far (17 answers as I write this). – John Y Feb 5 '15 at 14:25
8

If you want a colloquial term, you could use "rock", as in "She's my rock."

  • Hello Bette, welcome to ELU. Good answer (I'm trying to filter out the connotations from rock music!) – Edwin Ashworth Feb 4 '15 at 23:32
  • Alternatively, works if you're looking for a Biblical term, since the Gospels have Jesus say something quite similar to that about Peter (whose name comes from the Greek for rock, so it was also a pun) – KRyan Feb 5 '15 at 0:31
  • @KRyan A small correction. It's not so much a pun as much as Jesus making a declaration about the kind of person Peter is. If I recall correctly (and I'm pretty confident that I do), it is actually the occasion where Jesus gives him a new name of Peter (his previous name being Simon, hence Simon Peter). – jpmc26 Feb 5 '15 at 10:39
  • Personally (Canadian/American English native), this phrase sounds incredibly odd. If someone told me someone was their "rock", I'd have to ask for clarification (unless it was something like, "they're solid as a rock"). – Eric Feb 7 '15 at 6:15
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A surprisingly popular thread, and an interesting array of suggestions. Despite all of the 16 answers already provided, I believe I have a different angle.

Selfless: having or showing great concern for other people and little or no concern for yourself

--Merriam-Webster

Most of the other suggested words convey the sense of reliability, but do not necessarily reflect the "quiet" part of your request. A truly selfless person does not seek glory for themselves.

6

You want something short? The shortest I can think of is trusty:

trusty adj. Dependable; faithful; reliable.

[From my physical American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Ed.]

  • Not from your trusty American Heritage Dictionary? – dannysauer Feb 9 '15 at 23:55
  • @dannysauer: Indeed, that dictionary is trusty! – John Y Feb 10 '15 at 1:01
6

Dependable is the first word that comes to my mind...

  • But it came to Robusto's even earlier. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 4 '15 at 23:33
  • A good suggestion that deserved its own post, and not limited to a comment. – Mari-Lou A Feb 5 '15 at 21:51
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    this word is already in the OP. – Erich Feb 6 '15 at 5:31
5

A "diligent" person tends to be reliable by nature, without fanfare.

5

Solid - Its not the real definition of the word, but I think most people would understand whats meant.

3

If you want something with a bit of an archaic tone, you could try yeomanly

having the virtues attributed to yeomen, such as staunchness, loyalty, and courage

Collins

  • Is it formal.... ? – adityasrivastav Feb 4 '15 at 15:27
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    As a native US English speaker I wouldn't understand this in typical conversation. And I'm fairly certain most people would be even more confused by it ("what's a yeoman?") – Daenyth Feb 4 '15 at 18:49
  • @Daenyth The term yeomanlike is also used., similar to workmanlike. I did say it was archaic. – bib Feb 4 '15 at 18:59
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    @bib You did, but some archaic terms are comprehensible to lay speakers, and some are not. I was just clarifying that (IME) this one is not, in case the OP didn't have the context to know. – Daenyth Feb 4 '15 at 19:03
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    @Daenyth I thought we were all about expanding people's knowledge and experiences. And I'm not urging it for everyday speech. – bib Feb 4 '15 at 19:06
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Probably, time-tested (TFD)

(adj) : tested and proved to be reliable.

  • ↔dependable, reliable - worthy of reliance or trust; "a reliable source of information"; "a dependable worker".
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    I've never heard "time-tested" for a person. Only for methods, items, etc. – Rusty Tuba Feb 4 '15 at 14:49
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I'd consider workhorse:

  • a person who performs most of the work of a group task; a hardworking person

  • something that is markedly useful, durable, or dependable

  • +1. My manager at my first job called me a workhorse. Probably the most positive thing a boss has ever said to me. – stackoverflowuser2010 Feb 6 '15 at 21:04
2

I’d like to add “unsung hero” to the list.

Unsung Hero

From Urban Dictionary:

Someone who does a great job yet receives little or no recognition for that. An unsung hero usually refrains from claiming too much in return for his/her efforts.

From Dictionary.com:

A person who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution

1

I like the expression be (always) there for sb:

  • to be available to provide help and support for someone: We haven't always been close, but she was there for me when I needed her. Best friends are always there for each other in times of trouble.

trustworthy may also fit: (M-W)

  • able to be relied on to do or provide what is needed or right : deserving trust.
0

Sentinel carries the proper denotation and connotation, IMHO.

0

Steadfast has the right nuance of meaning. adjective resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering. "steadfast loyalty" synonyms: loyal, faithful, committed, devoted, dedicated, dependable, reliable, steady, true, constant, staunch, solid, trusty Although I am stretching the meaning it is from the Old English stedefæst. It is comprised of two parts: stede (“stead, place”) + -fæst (“fixed”) Silent is simply inferred from context

-1

A noun might be trump, as defined by TFD:

Informal A reliable or admirable person.

MW, too, emphasizes the quality and virtue of a trump with:

a dependable and exemplary person

It is not used in this way often, so Oxford Dictionaries prefaces its definition with dated.

O. Henry uses it in his short story A Service of Love (1906), in which hard times fall upon two married artists. The wife tells her husband that she has temporarily given up her schooling and taken up tutoring so they can still eat while he continues his studies. The husband, realizing her sacrifice, commends her with:

"All right," said Joe, reaching for the blue scalloped vegetable dish. "But I hate for you to be giving lessons. It isn't Art. But you're a trump and a dear to do it."

She does it without the expectation of praise, since (in a spoiler tag because it's O. Henry):

She was unable to find pupils and has been working instead in a laundry. (The husband finds out because he's been working in the engine-room of the same laundry.)

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