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What is a person who couldn't fulfill his dream in life called? I'm talking about someone who wanted to become something that he couldn't become. I would like a single word with this exact meaning, please.

Example:

I loved someone but I couldn't get her because she got married to someone else for her family reason.

  • 1
    Did he achieve anything at all? Sometimes you may not fulfill your dreams but you still enjoyed an excellent life. – Catija Jun 15 '15 at 15:30
  • You could try searching an online thesaurus for "dreamer", to see if anything there helps. Here's one: (merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/dreamer). – Margana Jun 15 '15 at 15:34
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    You could say that someone who became an accountant is a frustrated acrobat. That means he would love to have been an acrobat, but as he suffered from vertigo he had to settle for doing numerical gymnastics with people's tax returns. – WS2 Jun 15 '15 at 15:35
  • Or, someone who is an accountant could be a "failed acrobat", if they weren't actually good at being an acrobat. – Catija Jun 15 '15 at 15:41
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    "Cosmically jinxed"? "Screwed from the get-go"? "Born under a bad sign?" (courtesy of "Cream") Also, there's something about an albatross that I can't quite remember... – Oldbag Jun 15 '15 at 15:59

10 Answers 10

12

The word that most aptly describes someone unfulfilled in achieving a goal or unable to live up to their full potential is "manque." However, your example indicates love and loss. You could say this person is a "failed romantic." Such a person's love would usually be termed "unrequited." They could be an "unrequited lover." Summarizing this in one word, one could say that the person was "unrewarded" or "unfulfilled."

manque
man·qué (mäN-kā′) adjective –TFD

Unfulfilled or frustrated in the realization of one's ambitions or capabilities: an artist manqué.

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    any citation of reference to support your answer? – gelolopez Jun 15 '15 at 19:34
  • manqué adj. Unfulfilled or frustrated in the realization of one's ambitions or capabilities: an artist manqué. unrequited 1. not returned or reciprocated: unrequited love. 2. not avenged or retaliated: an unrequited wrong. 3. not repaid or satisfied. unfulfilled unfulfilled - of persons; marked by failure to realize full potentialities; "unfulfilled and uneasy men"; "unrealized dreams and ambitions" – senyb Jun 15 '15 at 20:27
  • Just to make it clear to the OP (you already mentioned an example to this effect), the adjective manqué is usually used postpositionally. – anomaly Jun 15 '15 at 20:49
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    Yeah, and actually using this will send everyone off to find a dictionary because it's so obscure. – Catija Jun 16 '15 at 0:46
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    As a native English speaker, I have to agree with Cajita. The word manque is too obscure for normal usage. – Vince O'Sullivan Jun 16 '15 at 11:54
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As Catija said, more context would help, but for now one of the meanings of the word unfulfilled might fit the bill:

Not having fully utilized or exploited one’s abilities or character:

I was restless and unfulfilled (ODO)


EDIT (from OP's comments): The word unfulfilled is either neutral or negative, depending on the context:

Because of the circumstances that hindered me and the dreams I had to leave behind, I felt unfulfilled for my whole life.

It doesn't have to mean that you want to say something bad (negative) about yourself, but it it does say that you feel bad (close to unhappy).

It is doubtful that fulfillment is an independent good, although feeling fulfilled is pleasant and feeling unfulfilled unpleasant.

From: Self-Interest: Volume 14, Part 1 by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller, Jr, Jeffrey Paul, Cambridge University Press, 1997

On the other hand, it might be used to say something negative of a person (especially when used attributively):

He was a deeply depressed, inhibited, bitter, and unfulfilled person.

from: Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz, Simon and Schuster, 2015

It is difficult to find a word with positive connotations, that would describe a person who hasn't fulfilled a dream as such (you could add even more context such as: despite the fact that his dream remained unfulfilled he kept fighting/dreaming etc - but then the word would depend on the added context).

A word that would be neutral regarding someone's personality (but still describing their feelings as sad) would be:

regretful:

Feeling or showing regret (ODO)


I felt love for Bill, but I was regretful that I hadn't gotten a degree, and resentful that I was expected to carry the entire domestic load.

Example from: Duchess of Palms: A Memoir by Nadine Eckhardt, University of Texas Press, 2012

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Thwarted

His dreams were thwarted.

Merriam-Webster definition of thwart: "to oppose successfully: defeat the hopes or aspirations of

5

I would say "unactualized", as "actualized" can mean "to fulfill one's potential".

4

A single noun for the person themselves would be failure.

a person or thing that proves unsuccessful:
He is a failure in his career. The cake is a failure.

It is a rather negative word though.

2

From your description I think that the term disillusioned may describe how that person can feel:

  • having lost faith or trust in something : disappointed that something is not as good, valuable, true, etc., as it had seemed (M-W)
  • disillusioned about what he expected form life.
2

It's possible you mean the person was

frustrated

in their attempts to marry the dream-spouse.

2

first word that came to mind was "loser" but you may be looking for something like "thwarted"

1

Would-be. My would-be wife was already engaged to an astronaut.

-1

It is not a single word but avoids negativism:

To come to terms with

to start to accept and deal with a difficult situation

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