Example sentence:

However much in earnest he might be, he had nothing of the single-mindedness that belongs to a fanatic. (221, Nineteen Eighty-Four)

The word "single-minded" seem to suggest a complete and one dimensional self-devotion to a single motivation. (Which is a great way of creating a boring antagonist if I ever saw one)

I am wondering what would be some of its antonym?

The following would not work:

  • half-hearted
  • lackadaisical

They would not work because they are specific to a certain action but does not characterize a person in general, and they show a lack of motivation, rather than a diversity of motivations.

Sentence to apply the word to:

"You may very well think that I am a single-minded fanatic, but I am in fact just as complex and ___ as you are."


You are looking for a word that speaks of "a diversity of motivations".

Try multifaceted.

Multifaceted adjective 2 Having many different aspects or features: his extraordinary and multifaceted career - ODO

Your sample sentence will then be:

You may very well think that I am a single-minded fanatic, but I am in fact just as complex and multifaceted as you are.

Here's an example of actual use, found on the internet:

Examining Motivation in Online Distance Learning Environments: Complex, Multifaceted, and Situation-Dependent - M Hartnett, A St. George and J Dron


"You may very well think that I am a single-minded fanatic, but I am in fact just as complex and conflicted as you are."

While not a typical antonym, conflicted fit's your example sentence.



past tense: conflicted; past participle: conflicted


be incompatible or at variance; clash.

"parents' and children's interests sometimes conflict"

synonyms: clash, be incompatible, vary, be at odds, be in conflict, differ, diverge, disagree, contrast, collide

"their interests sometimes conflict"

contradictory, incompatible, inconsistent, irreconcilable, incongruous, contrary, opposite, opposing, antithetical, clashing, discordant, divergent;

at odds

"the two suspects gave conflicting stories"

having or showing confused and mutually inconsistent feelings.

adjective: conflicted

"my feelings are so conflicted that I hardly know how to answer"

google: conflicted


Hmm, not sure how to answer, I'm

of two minds

of two minds (about someone or something)

Fig. holding conflicting opinions about someone or something; being undecided about someone or something. I am of two minds about whether I should go to the convention.

idioms.thefreedictionary.com: of two minds


I'd suggest, muddle-minded

mentally confused : muddleheaded


Also, out of focus

fig. not concentrating on single issues



In 1948 when Orwell was writing the book, broadminded would have done, but I don’t hear it used anymore.

  • 1
    "Broad-minded" still seem to exist, but it doesn't mean what it might have meant anymore.
    – user289661
    Apr 10 '16 at 4:24
  • 1
    Merriam - Webster's short definition is "tolerant of varied views". dictionary.com says "free from prejudice or bigotry". I don't think I've heard it used in this millennium. Do you know it with a different meaning?
    – Al Maki
    Apr 11 '16 at 0:01

Indecisive seems to be a good choice. When one is "single minded' they move forward with complete certainty.

When one is indecisive, they may not move forward at all.


You could describe the person as confused or wishy-washy. However, these don't work very well in the sentence you suggested.

A better fit would therefore be versatile or well-rounded. An even better choice might be thoughtful or possibly rational.

You may very well think that I am a single-minded fanatic, but I am in fact just as complex and rational as you are.


The term single-minded is a synonym of the following:

determined, committed, unswerving, unwavering, resolute, purposeful, devoted, dedicated, uncompromising, tireless, tenacious, persistent, indefatigable, dogged, pertinacious

Look up any of the these words in an online thesaurus and you will also find its antonym(s). For instance, the following are antonyms of determined

Antonyms for determined:
irresolute, weak-willed, pusillanimous, yielding, changeable, flexible, indefinite, soft, undecided, unfixed, hesitating, vacillating, wavering

However, in the OP's example sentence, single-minded modifies the noun fanatic, it would be highly unusual to describe oneself as a ‘wavering’ or ‘soft fanatic’. It also appears to me that the connotations for fanatic have become increasingly negative in recent years; in fact it is often used in connection with fundamentalism and acts of terrorism.

  • Senior cleric blasts mosque leader for praising terrorist fanatic ...

  • Dramatic moment robot checks the body of an ISIS fanatic for explosives after he was shot dead...

  • Israelis 'more prone to fanaticism and fundamentalism'

  • Despite the fact that fanaticism exists in world religions, there has been a strong tendency to associate Islam with fundamentalism and fanaticism.

Therefore I would employ any of the following antonyms for fanatic, which are: moderate, and conservative. If the OP wishes to emphasize the diametrical nature of the statement, I would suggest the adjective tolerant and any of its many synonyms: open-minded, forbearing, broad-minded, liberal, unprejudiced, unbiased, patient, long-suffering, understanding, forgiving, charitable, lenient, indulgent, permissive, easygoing, lax, laid-back. The majority of these would fit nicely in the blank.

You may very well think that I am a single-minded fanatic, but I am in fact just as complex and tolerant as you are.

Source: Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition

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