I'm trying to think of a word that suggests a person who takes no personal accountability in their actions or always tries to shift blame on to some factor supposedly outside of their control.

Is there such a word?


8 Answers 8


The first word that springs to mind is feckless, particularly the second meaning...

having no sense of responsibility; indifferent; lazy.


It baffles me that none of the other answers mentioned the simple irresponsible.


Sometimes people weasel out of their responsibilities or deflect blame or dodge accountability.


I've got a few:

  • a dodger
  • a shirker

In Australia we also have a 'bludger' but I think that's more to do with laziness than shifting the blame. It should be noted that the two qualities often co-exist though!


"Abdication" for permanent refusal of their responsibility. If it's an intermittent thing I like "feckless", as per Brian's reply (above).


The behavior you describe is sometimes described as "passive-aggressive".

"It doesn't hurt me," Auriemma said about the series ending. "Some people, that's just their style, they're passive-aggressive. Always wanting someone else to blame for what's going on." Apr 23, 2008 - USA Today - Geno Auriemma

(thank you, Gooogle)

  • 2
    Ooh, mystery downvote! I'm guessing we have a prescriptivist on our hands. Language changes with usage. Accept this and move on. Your blood pressure will thank you.
    – Christi
    Jun 1, 2011 at 6:38
  • 3
    Not the downvoter, but prescriptivist or not, I don't think you can change usage single-handedly. If there is any cross-over between feckless and passive-aggressive (I'm not convinced), they are certainly not synonyms.
    – Benjol
    Jun 1, 2011 at 6:56
  • 1
    @Christi downvoted this as explained by @Benjol. My resting HR is a bradycardic 56bpm & I have a normal BP btw. Jun 1, 2011 at 7:13
  • 1
    @pageman Glad to hear you're in the best of health. My point was that I've heard this used in exactly the sense of the original description of the poster multiple times (feckless doesn't cover blame shifting behaviour in my opinion). I even supplied a quote from the media to demonstrate its use in precisely that context. Hardly a single handed usage change, but it's cool. Let's move on.
    – Christi
    Jun 1, 2011 at 12:22
  • 2
    @pageman Terrible.
    – Christi
    Jun 2, 2011 at 10:51


  1. Impossible to account for; inexplicable: unaccountable absences.
  2. Free from accountability; not responsible: an executive unaccountable to anyone but the president.
  • 2
    You could use some of the necessary characters to explain the difference between 'not bearing responsibility' and 'not accepting responsibility'. Dec 1, 2013 at 21:57
  • irresponsible (as @iterums says)
  • passing the buck / more clunkily "He/she is a buck-passer"

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