I've searched thesauruses to no avail. I'm hoping to find a more refined way of describing someone as 'disorganized', which to me seems to have a slightly negative connotation. The alternatives I have come across so far seem to be even worse ('chaotic', 'confused' etc.). What I have in mind would be something to conjure up the image of an eccentric scholar, perhaps sort of besieged by books piled on either side in disarray.

The question already posted didn't quite give me what I wanted, since it seemed to be referring to someone who was fond of chaos, not someone who simply can't keep themselves neat. I felt the suggestions given were mostly unflattering as well, which isn't what I'm looking for.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Mitch, tchrist, Vilmar, Marv Mills, Robusto Sep 16 '15 at 16:06

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Maybe untidy...? – sooeithdk Sep 6 '15 at 17:00
  • I think that's a good improvement, but still not quite as euphemistic as the word I'm looking for. @FumbleFingers I also edited my post to differentiate it from the other question. – Dunedubby Sep 6 '15 at 17:28
  • I suppose 'eclectic' might be useful to you...it is sometimes used in the way I think you intend, as a deliberate euphemism for disorganized. – JEL Sep 6 '15 at 17:41
  • I don't understand your "clarification". On the one hand you dismiss the "original" on the grounds that the question asks about someone who like chaos (implying that in their opinion, at least, being disorganised is a good thing). On the other hand you dismiss the answers there on the grounds that they're "unflattering" (i.e. - they imply the trait is a bad thing). But I'd have thought between the 20 answers there (several of which suggest more than one term) you should have almost all possibilities, regardless of the exact nuance you seek (which as I say, isn't clear to me). – FumbleFingers Sep 6 '15 at 17:49
  • Absent-minded or scatty? – Julie Carter Sep 6 '15 at 18:14

I'm thinking you can search for a negative connotation of one who is overly tidy, and then negate that word or phrase to create something that sounds more positive for a person who is apathetic about tidiness. Something like

unfussy - not excessively busy with trifles anxious or particular about petty details

Alternatively, a descriptive phrase that keeps coming back to me is one whose scholastic preoccupation overflows from mind to desk. Perhaps synonyms for unrestrained may give you more ideas?


discombobulated is a favorite of mine.


Some images come to mind, changing disorganized to somewhat organized:

a scholar holed up in a bunker of books -- hunkered down

a scholar plowing through piles of books -- furrowing

a scholar in a feast of ideas, consuming piles of books -- digesting

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