"Unpreparedness" seems clunky, and thesaurus.com wasn't of much help. Is there another word that might do, for example, in this sentence? "Having seen everyone pull out their tents, Jack twiddled his thumbs, acutely aware of his unpreparedness."

In this sentence, I find "unpreparedness" unsuitable because it just feels as though it's not a real word, as though someone just added "-ness" to "unprepared".

  • Using any word in that sentence structure would result in a "-ness" being tacked on. so supposing the sentence would be restructured a smidge at the end my words would work. – Yeshe Apr 21 '16 at 1:58

Your use is correct. That said, I agree does affect the flow of the passage. Depending on your writing style, you could consider:

"Having seen everyone pull out their tents, Jack twiddled his thumbs, acutely aware of his wanting preparation."

wanting - adjective: lacking in a required or necessary quality.

Or, less whimsically:

"Having seen everyone pull out their tents, Jack twiddled his thumbs, acutely aware of his inadequate preparation."

inadequate - adjective: lacking the quality or quantity required; insufficient for a purpose.


A few options come to mind, that the person may be inept or maladroit. Inept seems more natural to me.


Having or showing no skill; clumsy

Or depending on the type of unpreparedness...


lacking in adroitness; unskillful; awkward; bungling; tactless

  • That's nothing to do with being prepared or not. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 11 '16 at 18:15
  • I would have to disagree. I suppose it comes down to how you wish to describe being prepared. My logic is that some one who has no skill at something cannot in truth be prepared to do the thing successfully. – Yeshe Jul 12 '16 at 6:35
  • That's not the same as saying they can't prepare or be prepared for something. Their preparations will just be less efficient than someone with better skills. In the context given in the question, it's obvious that it's not a matter of skill, but simply of not having prepared oneself appropriately by bringing a tent. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 12 '16 at 7:22
  • Ahh, but it doesn't actually say he doesn't have a tent. It could simply be he is inept at setting up a tent and is therefore reluctant to embarrass himself in front of others, hence the twiddling of thumbs. – Yeshe Jul 14 '16 at 5:03

How about Offhandedness

without previous thought or preparation; extempore.
  • while an apt term, I do not think it has the negative connotation that the sentence would indicate is necessary. – Yeshe Apr 21 '16 at 2:00
  • 2
    This strikes me as referring to somebody choosing (spontaneously) to do something, in spite of not being prepared.  The question seems to be about somebody being required to do something for which he is not prepared — especially if he should have known about it in plenty of time to prepare.  It's spontaneity versus disorganization/laziness. – Scott Apr 21 '16 at 6:06
  • 1
    This sounds like a non-sequitur to me, despite the similarity in definition. – Eric Hauenstein Apr 21 '16 at 20:19

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