I'm looking for a word, not necessarily a direct “reverse dictionary” sort of word that has the definition above, but even a creative word that can describe, label, or represent that sort of person with just the one word. Having a slightly negative connotation is an added bonus, and a balance between negativity and positivity is also fine.

Again, the label sought is to describe, stand for, or attach to a wise and studious or academic person, but who is also frail and ghastly.

  • 1
    Perhaps you're thinking of "wizened" - but, despite the way it sounds, it doesn't imply wisdom, it just means "shriveled with age."
    – Oldbag
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 11:50
  • 2
    I think "nerd" captures a lot of it.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 11:55
  • I love “wizened”, and for the reason you mentioned: it may not have a direct lexicographical link to the meaning above, but it combines the meaning [and] the “sound” of it. Please include it as an answer!
    – Rok
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 12:00
  • “Nerd” is the classic one, yes, but it is up to the sophistication I'm trying to represent; nerds are usually not associated with wisdom, and perhaps “ghastly” is taking it a bit too much to describe nerds. Hehe!
    – Rok
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 12:02
  • 1
    A word doesn't necessarily exist just because you can describe some characteristics. Anyway, what is the point? Are you trying to write a ten-word book?
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 12:24

3 Answers 3


Okay... The word "wizened" means dried-up or shriveled with age. While the meaning does not include inferences to mystical knowledge - or even wisdom that comes with age - the sound of it may conjure those images, regardless.

  • As I commented elsewhere, I agree and truly love this word as a suggestion, then as an outright answer. Wizened does not denote wisdom & knowledge (in the definiens), but it connotes it, even if by the mere sound of the word; and by denoting withered, shriveled looks directly in the meaning or definition, I view it as the perfect word. Thank you!
    – Rok
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 20:18

I'm not sure there is a single word.

Studious person = bookworm

Names of actual creatures that attack books

deathwatch beetle (larvae)

book-louse or paper-louse

Words for ghastly people





I think a two-word phrase with alliteration might do it, e.g. "studious scarecrow"

I'm sure others can think of better ones.

  • Wizened wizard?
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 13:06
  • Thank you very much for your input, Chasly; it does help. Due to the needs of what I'm writing, I would prefer to stick to a one word. Open to what you mentioned about a two-word substantive with alliteration, but the chances of that “feeling” right are slim to the requirements of what I'm writing.
    – Rok
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:24
  • @ChrisH Oldbag above is the first one who suggested “wizened” and I actually love it. I explain in a comment above why, even if it does not denote the studious part besides the frailty, it still connotes it, even if the mere sound of the word.
    – Rok
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:36
  • @Rok I thought I'd take on the alliteration challenge in the answer using the suggestions in the comments.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 20:23
  • @ChrisH Oh, that makes perfect sense! Yes, “wizened wizard” is indeed [the] perfect alliteration for the direct, almost exact meaning I was talking about. Thank you.
    – Rok
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 20:13

That sounds like a typical necromancer in fantasy fiction.

  • Necromancers may be stereotypically scrawny, ghastly and wise; but scrawny, ghastly and wise people are not typically necromancers.
    – herisson
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 22:20
  • 1
    @vladkornea Thank you! What sumelic said is very true; necromancer is not suitable for my specific need only because it will suggest involvement in rituals like reanimating the dead, etc. However, I wish I had rep of 15 to upvote your contribution, because I didn't think about it this way until you mentioned necromancer. I loved the feeling that I'm understanding what I'm talking about from a new perspective, so thank you!
    – Rok
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 20:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.