She was caring, and yet she was _______

What I'm tring to say is that although she cared for others, she was strong enough to not let them dictate her actions. In other words, she did things for people because she was a good person, but it didn't mean she would do anything for anyone just because she was told to do so.

A single word is preferable.

Currently, what I have is 'she was no pushover', which is very close, but maybe not the best fit here. Kind of looking for an antonym of pushover which suits my case better.

(Thesaurus.com and Oxford don't list any close antonyms, btw.)

  • 12
    "She was no pushover" would probably be the most idiomatic.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:28
  • @HotLicks: I suspected that going in. And I'm beginning to think you're absolutely right.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:48
  • 5
    Keep in mind that saying "no xxx" vs saying "antonym-of-xxx" often has the effect of strengthening the statement.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:51
  • 1
    @HotLicks: Another piece of great advice. I was looking for the antonym for consistency. I'm listing out multiple qualities: A, yet B; C, yet D... and so on. But now I'm thinking I can go A, but not X; B, but no Y...
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:55
  • Unfortunately, a woman with these qualities is sometimes called a "babe in total control of herself", so you will also see that term used, or at least its acronym. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 19:16

17 Answers 17


You could say that she was resolute

admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.


Or simply firm

  1. Indicating or possessed of determination or resolution: a firm voice.
  2. Constant; steadfast


For two words, you might say she was nobody's fool

A person who cannot be duped or taken advantage of, as in You can't put anything over on Ryan-he's nobody's fool.


  • C'mon A1, you can do better.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 8:39
  • Time for nitpicking: Someone who does things for others is not a fool. She's more like nobody's pushover. Also, she doesn't have a particular resolution or determination to help. She just does it out of care.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 8:40
  • @TusharRaj But you have already said that "She was caring". Do you really need the second word to say that too (as well as she won't be taken advantage of)?
    – Avon
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 8:41
  • 2
    @TusharRaj note that "nobody's fool" does mean "cannot be taken advantage of" as well as "cannot be duped"
    – Avon
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 8:43
  • 3
    "She was caring, and yet she was resolute". I would read that book. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 14:32



showing an unwillingness to make concessions to others, especially by changing one's ways or opinions.

"as an uncompromising Protestant he felt that his country ought to be at war with Spain"

To put it in your provided context, you would say "she was uncompromising".

Similar words which carry slightly different connotations but might suit better: obdurate, inflexible, unyielding or obstinate. Slightly more colloquial term to similar effect: pig-headed.

  • Uncompromising is not bad. Others are. (Too negative) +1 for uncompromising.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:49
  • 1
    Likewise, this one just "sounds" best imo.
    – WernerCD
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 13:10
  • 1
    @TusharRaj: I find, to the contrary, "uncompromising" to bear strong negative connotations, from the "stubborn" / "unreasonable" direction of things. (Not a native speaker though, so my gut feeling might be off.)
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 13:46

To take "no pushover" to the extreme:

She was indomitable

impossible to subdue or defeat.
"a woman of indomitable spirit"


  • well, it fits the most. +1... Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 12:57


The ODO definition: 'Resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering'

  • +1 as well as having the right meaning and positive, moral connotations, it comes from the old English for "Standing Firm", so you could say it's literally the opposite of easy to push over... Maybe it's even too positive for the sentence - "caring and steadfast" feels more natural than "caring yet steadfast" - a simple "caring yet firm" might fit best Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 17:25

Perhaps you can say that she was assertive. According to Collins:



1) confident and direct in claiming one's rights or putting forward one's views

  • Ask yourself: Does "She was caring and yet assertive" sound right to you? Besides, the girl in question is not assertive. She doesn't hesitate to refuse, but she does hesitate to ask. Go figure.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 17:17

Not single word, unfortunately:

She was caring, and yet she always stood up for herself.


She was caring, but not to her own detriment.

I also think she might be assertive, but it doesn't work well contrasted to "she was caring".

  • 1
    'not to her own detriment' is good. +1. Too bad I'm looking for a single word.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 13:21

"She was not acquiescent."

acquiescent: tending to accept or allow what other people want or demand - Merriam Webster

This definition might be somewhat at odds with her caring nature (she might well allow what other people wanted), but acquiese itself does imply some reservation:

Accept something reluctantly but without protest: - Oxford Dictionaries

So I think"She was caring, but not acquiescent" indicates that she has her own mind about what she does, using her own judgment. When she encounters something she is reluctant to do, she does not agree to it.

  • Hi Margana. Acquiescent is colser to being a synonym of pushover. I'm looking for an antonym. Thanks.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 9:22
  • Hi Tushar: " I'm looking for an antonym"... That's why I suggested not acquiescent (though I forgot the bolding in "not". I'll put it in now. It's one of those things with language, though: there seems little room for the midway. Looking for synonyms/antonyms you find extremes, but little to suggest modest behaviour?
    – Margana
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 10:35
  • ... The antonyms for acquiesce I've found are much too powerful: refuse; hinder; protest; veto...
    – Margana
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 10:44
  • You should be looking for an opposite to acquiescent; not acquiesce.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 17:27
  • OK, Tushar. Same thing though: too strong? [merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/acquiescent] Near Antonyms defiant; contrary, contumacious, disobedient, froward, incompliant, insubordinate, insurgent, intractable, mutinous, rebellious, recalcitrant, refractory, restive, uncontrollable, ungovernable, unruly, untoward; balky, perverse, wayward, wrongheaded; headstrong, willful (or wilful); indomitable; undisciplined, unmanageable; dissident, nonconformist Antonyms protesting, resistant, resisting, unyielding.
    – Margana
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 19:29

She was strong-willed.

strong-willed: determined to do as one wants even if other people advise against it. - Google

  • Hi James, doing something others tell you not to is not the same as not doing something just because other people tell you to.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 11:41
  • @TusharRaj: I see your point. However, if she is strong-willed and wants to do nothing, then she will not be easily influenced to do something.
    – James
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 11:52
  • I'm no lawyer, man :) You might be right. But that's not what the word implies, and so I can't use it. Sorry. But thanks for answering.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:00
  • No problem. :) I prefer "resolute", but thought you might want more options.
    – James
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:12

Sturdy - Apart from other meanings, the adjective sturdy can also describe something (or someone) determined, firm, stalwart, and steady

  • not making concessions

  • not easily influenced or changed by other people

Synonyms: inflexible, hard-line, firm and uncompromising


In brainstorming fashion:

  • She was caring, and yet she was a rock.

  • She was caring, and yet she was unmovable.

  • She was caring, and yet she was principled.

  • She was caring, and yet she was zealous.

  • She was caring, and yet she was not gullible.

  • She was caring, and yet she was assertive.

  • She was caring, and yet she was wise.

  • She was caring, and yet she was discerning.

  • She was caring, and yet she was incredulous. [the alliterative factor]

  • She was wise as a serpent, but harmless as a dove. [or switch the phrases around]

  • She was caring, and yet she was careful. [again, the alliterative factor]

  • She was caring, and yet she was refractory.

This last one is kind of interesting in that to be refractory is to show, or to be characterized by, obstinate resistance to authority or control, which fits your description of her character.

  • I'm upvoting for the sheer amount of thought you put into this. I'll dissect these a bit later to see if there are any I could use. Thanks :)
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 11:13
  • @TusharRaj: As a ideational person, I spent probably all of five minutes on my list. Ideas come quickly to me, and given the depth of my background in a variety of disciplines, I exerted very little effort in formulating a list of this sort. If you want ten more suggestions, just let me know. Don Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 11:21
  • @TusharRaj the closest I could come up with was 'assertive', but that one's already taken (so, all I can do is upvote this answer :-))
    – Lucky
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 16:01
  • I liked 'careful' and 'refractory'; and many others. I can't upvote again, and I can't promise an accept, but if your offer still stands, you can add as many as you like. Thanks.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 17:26
  • 1
    How about "practical"? In the sense of not biting off more than she could chew. "Practical: as opposed to the theoretical, ideal or speculative..." (Webster Collegiate Dictionary)
    – ab2
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 19:16

How about: headstrong

Possibly leans too much towards the negative, but it does indicate that one is not easily led by others and that one forms one's own opinions.

adjective: headstrong; adjective: head-strong energetically wilful and determined.

"the headstrong impulsiveness of youth" synonyms: wilful, self-willed, strong-willed, contrary, perverse, wayward, unruly, refractory, ungovernable, unyielding, stubborn, obstinate, obdurate;

  • Too negative. Sorry.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 12:49

The shortest expression that I came up with is strong-minded.

A person who is described as being

caring, thoughtful and yet strong-minded

tells me that although they are willing to help, and dedicate their time to others, they won't stand to be treated as a doormat.

Along similar lines is the idiom: have a mind of one's own

She was caring, and yet she had a mind of her own.

A person who is capable of forming their opinion independently, implies they cannot be manipulated.

  • +1. Thanks. Strong-minded is the best suggestion yet. And that's because others didn't try to see how well their word would fit with caring in my sentence. Anyway, I sent the letter with my original: no pushover. No regrets.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 5:26

Ok. Another go. How about a word which means:

: ...acting separately from other things or people

: having the power or right to govern itself - Merriam Webster


independent and having the power to make your own decisions - Cambridge Dictionaries

The word: autonomous


I like badass. It's hard to say without more context, but all the above suggestions are a little cleaner in connotation. "She was caring yet badass."


What I want to say is "selfish", but I mean it in the Randian sense (http://atlassociety.org/commentary/commentary-blog/4141-virtue-of-selfishness). Unfortunately, altruism is so deeply ingrained in our culture that "selfish" takes on too many negative connotations. So, seeking something that essentially means the same thing, but without so much baggage, how about: self-interested.

  • Welcome to ELU, Krankor. I'm not sure if this answer indicates a misunderstanding of the question, a misinterpretation of the word selfish, or an emotional misalignment. Few healthy humans consider it selfish to maintain the respectful boundaries indicated in the question. In some sense, we might consider selfish and antonym of pushover, but not in the sense communicated by the OP.
    – ScotM
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 20:06
  • Which is why I expressly stated that I meant "selfish" in the Randian sense, and even provided a link for it.
    – Krankor
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 2:00


I also like Indomitable or Resolute.


I would go for "determined". It appears as a synonym (or explanation) in some other word suggestions here in the thread and for me it just sounds right.

From http://dictionary.reference.com/

determined - adjective

1. resolute; staunch: the determined defenders of the Alamo.

2. decided; settled; resolved.

See also http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/determined

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