Is there a word for a person who uses the computer regularly and is adept at doing what she has to do or wants to do on the computer, but has no interest whatsoever in its hardware or software innards, nor in allowing it to take over her life? The word is not "agnostic" nor "Luddite". I have a particular person in mind, who calls herself a "computer dren". Is there an actual word?

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    Dren, as in Nerd spelled backwards? Anyway, the opposite of an enthusiast is a detractor. Someone who's in the middle just is.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 14:08
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    Dren could be used in a derogatory sense.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 14:19
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    All this is helpful, but doesn't capture the attitude of this person -- the instant something goes wrong, she needs help. It is always a simple problem. No one minds, because she is helpful in what she does best -- analysis and writing. Example, someone else formats her work. The words, sentences, paragraphs and pages are lovely, concise English but the format is
    – ab2
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 19:22
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    Sounds like the word you're looking for is simply "User"
    – Ciacciu
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 9:09
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    @EllieK Hellion, in a comment towards the end understands perfectly what I meant: "..... the desired meaning: someone who has no interest in pursuing the subject beyond what is required of them (though they are professional enough to be good at the stuff that is actually required)." This person is brilliant at analysis, synthesis and clear, cogent writing. She does not, however, worship at the altar of the computer. .
    – ab2
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 17:07

13 Answers 13


You could call her a casual computer user.


(1) : feeling or showing little concern : nonchalant (a casual approach to cooking)

(2) : lacking a high degree of interest or devotion (casual sports fans, casual readers)

(3) : done without serious intent or commitment (casual sex)


Someone who's casual about something does it but is not really passionate about it. In contrast, a computer nerd or geek uses computers and is passionate about them as well.

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    Use of "casual user" in this way tends to mean they don't use a computer very often, rather than they are a heavy or moderate computer user, but they are very casual in their attitudes towards it as a tool.
    – Marv Mills
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 14:19
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    If you specified that the person is a "frequent but casual computer user," then it would be clear that you're using "casual" in the "not devoted" sense of the word.
    – Nicole
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 14:22
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    I don't know if I'd describe someone in a typical office job, who could spend 20-30hrs+ per week on a computer a casual user though, even though most wouldn't know the workings of it Commented May 12, 2015 at 15:14



(Of a person) having sufficient knowledge and skill to be able to use computers; familiar with the operation of computers.

There's also


The March 2008 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary added computer-savvy as a subordinate entry under computer so it is recognized; @ermanen graciously provided the definition which I didn't have access to:


having a thorough practical knowledge of computers

The adjective definition



: having or showing perception, comprehension, or shrewdness especially in practical matters

Examples of SAVVY

She's a very savvy investor. He is savvy about computers.
Merriam Webster

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    +1 to me computer-literate is the idiomatic expression that fits best & doesn't connote too high a level of computer ability Commented May 12, 2015 at 15:22
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    It may depend on the perspective of your audience too. For example, to someone who works in IT, a person being defined as "computer savvy" would be exactly what the OP is looking for. For someone of little computer knowledge, "computer savvy" may imply a greater ability level than desired. Commented May 12, 2015 at 17:30
  • Then I am a regular computer user but I must be computer illiterate :)
    – Vim
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 18:58
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    ÷1 for computer-literate but I balk at -savvy,
    – Rache
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 12:33
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    Computer-savvy: having a thorough practical knowledge of computers [OED]
    – ermanen
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 18:06

I'd use "power user" -- it implies that a user is skilled but not enough that they would be considered a "super user" or system administrator


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    To me, a power user is well above the average level of computer literacy. A power user is an expert and the question explicitly asks for a word for non-experts. Commented May 12, 2015 at 18:12
  • The "average level of computer literary" does not correlate with "a person who uses the computer regularly and is adept at doing what she has to do or wants to do on the computer" A power user is a user who is adept at using a computer but not to the point where they do so professionally (or in-depth in general) -- just someone who knows their way around on a competent++ level. Commented May 12, 2015 at 21:20
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    @jimjamflimflam I'd argue that a power user is more than just competent, but rather a lower level or targeted expert. I am quite savvy at using Microsoft Office, but when trying to do stuff in excel I occasionally have to look things up, and more complicated tasks require me to either do some googling or ask someone else. An Excel power user knows all the ins and outs of Excel - they're the person you might ask how to do something. They have custom macros and hotkeys, etc. A computer power user has customized their computer extensively to make things more efficient and look "better".
    – Doc
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 7:04
  • An extension to this is: A power user would likely be capable and competent in using the command line to do tasks and able to debug many of their own issues (how-to's, crashes, blue screens, etc) and come up with a solution without calling support. The OP doesn't seem to be describing such a person.
    – Doc
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 7:08
  • I am an administrator in IT, and what the OP is describing I would call a "power user."
    – Entbark
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 15:43

I've always thought the word user itself, without further qualification, expresses the concept "uses the computer regularly and is adept at doing what she has to do or wants to do on the computer, but has no interest whatsoever in its hardware or software innards, nor in allowing it to take over her life".

In the same way the user of a mowing machine is perhaps adept in doing what they have to do, with no interest in its innards.

One could perhaps say end user, to rub it in.

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    As anyone who works in IT knows, users are usually, and by default, the opposite of "adept" at actually using the things! ;)
    – Marv Mills
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 14:25
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    @MarvMills What everyone working in IT knows might not even be true, you know. It's a defence mechanism ;)
    – anemone
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 14:32
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    no, it's actually true.
    – Erich
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 15:23
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    To be fair, IT rarely hears from the people that know what they are doing. So they're perception is likely skewed quite a bit.
    – NotMe
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 16:05
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    User is the correct word. An expert in the innards of a computer is a computer hardware engineer; an expert in programming is a developer or applications programmer. Computer user is... a user, not an expert. I laughed a little at "end user". That would probably be a good description for anyone who regularly used a computer at work but doesn't program or work in IT, development etc. Commented May 12, 2015 at 21:18

Aggregating a couple of the answers, I think there is a spectrum here and the right phrase depends a bit on the exact skill level and perhaps even the context you use it in:

  • Computer literate implies someone who is competent in basic usage scenarios (doesn't require handholding usually), but is not necessarily an expert user. This person probably understands little if anything that it happening under the covers. Contrast it with the widely used computer illiterate
  • Computer savvy implies someone who is competent in both basic usage and a wide-range of advanced usage scenarios. Again, this person's proficiency is not about understanding what the computer is doing but rather in understanding how to make it do what they want.
  • Power user to me implies one or two paths of expertise. This could be someone who is not just good, but is expert at molding software to their will. This could also be someone who understands enough about what's happening underneath (kernel level, services level, or even hardware level) that they are not the logical conclusion of the user but rather someone who has enough knowledge to generalize to new situations well.

I think this is a highly subjective area though, and this is just what these terms mean to me with both a technical support and software development background.


There's the hacker slang, luser, though it's rather derogatory, even if they believe you if you claim "oh, it's just short for 'local user'".


I describe the person as having a functional understanding of computers. The person knows enough to operate certain processes but not enough to troubleshoot them.



  1. of or having a special activity, purpose, or task; relating to the way in which something works or operates. "there are important functional differences between left and right brain"

Since nerdism or geekery would be the exception rather than the rule, in terms of users' attitudes to computers, any term that describes someone adept at using the tool should suffice.

Use of the term accomplished will convey the meaning they are adept in their use, without implying the user is also a nerd or geek.


  1. highly skilled; expert: an accomplished pianist.


EDIT: Since posting this answer the OP has been modified so that the title of the question specifically precludes "Expert", which invalidates this answer.


The Hacker's Dictionary has a couple of terms that might be of interest. The more obvious is real user, but chemist has been used. For comparison the suggestions luser and simply user are worth looking up there.

I'd suggest that you're best off with -- user, perhaps ordinary user.



As per Google definition: Dilettante means a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.

Not sure anything particularly for Computers. Amateur is also closer .

Though as mentioned in previous answers Computer-Savvy or Net Savvy are good options too.

Dern is an actual word and has various meaning in various context but definitely not what you are looking for.


"Client" is what developers use for the person who has nothing to do with the technical details. Other words devs use are "user", "standard user" and "front-end user".


I suggest you also have a look at digerati, defined by Merriam Webster

persons well versed in computer use and technology.

Here the word versed takes care of their awareness of technology and the overall sentence doesn't suggest anything related to interest in hardware.

  • You really are going back in the archives! Thanks for the interest, but Digerati doesn't work because: " person ....has no interest whatsoever in its hardware or software..." This was one of my first questions and I would have made it clearer if I were writing it today, but I was trying to get across an absolute refusal to learn one tiny thing more than she needed to know to do what she had to do. The computer to her was more convenient than a long yellow legal pad but no more intrinsically interesting. Glad to see you back.
    – ab2
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 13:58

What about "enthusiast"?

from Chambers Concise Dictionary:

enthusiast noun someone filled with enthusiasm, especially for a particular subject; a fan or devotee.

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    That seems to be quite the opposite of the desired meaning: someone who has no interest in pursuing the subject beyond what is required of them (though they are professional enough to be good at the stuff that is actually required).
    – Hellion
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 17:14

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