What is the word for someone who tries so hard to get to something but he can't and it's not his fault? For example a person wants to buy a car. He works hard and saves money but by the time he saved enough money the car he wanted gets more expensive because of inflation or something like that.


5 Answers 5


Such a person is thwarted.

Meirriam Websters Collegiate

thwart: to defeat the hopes or aspirations

His desire for a new car was thwarted by market forces.


Such an unlucky individual is often referred to as a victim of circumstance. A victim of circumstance is a person who has suffered due to events over which they have little or no control.

victim noun: a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action. synonyms: sufferer, injured party. (Google)

circumstance noun (formal) situations and events that affect and influence your life and that are not in your control. (Oxford Learners)


Such a guy is unfortunate.

Free Dictionary

  • A victim of bad luck

The person has a "sisyphean task" - doomed to work hard and fail

  • Welcome to ELU, Max. Someone might find Sisyphean on the edge of their search for the OP concept, but we are looking for substantial answers. Perhaps you could locate and cite some resources that define Sisyphean, and even offer an example of how it might or has been used that way in a real sentence.
    – ScotM
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 22:41

Depending on what you are describing, you may also be referring to "structural inequality," "societal racism," or "institutional racism."

These occur when the circumstances you describe are not random, but rather the result of social or institutional policies or actions.

For example, "Joe is poor. He tries to get a better paying job, but it requires he have a reliable car. Joe loses the job after a few months because his car is not reliable. Joe's car is not reliable because he cannot afford to maintain it. He cannot afford to maintain it because he is poor."

This cycle is also an example of a "Catch 22".



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