Hoarder, who has a condition as described by wikipedia:

Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.

What would you call the opposite of a hoarder, a person who tries to have as few possessions as possible, sometimes taking it too far? To fit sentences similar to this:

Michael's behavior as a _____ often causes difficulties. An example: he divests of common use tools when done with a project--then when a similar project occurs in the future, he has to spend time and money to reacquire tools that he should have kept in the first place.

Best I've come up with is minimalist. But many readers will have a positive connotation of that.

  • 2
    LIke the Buddha, an 'ascetic'. You'll get other suggestions from a thesaurus (which provides antonyms)
    – Mitch
    Apr 27, 2016 at 17:08
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    You want neutral or negative, expressly, or do you just want to describe the mindset?
    – The Nate
    Apr 27, 2016 at 17:08
  • @Mitch ascetic is the first thing that I thought of too, but it has a connotation of self-denial and staying away from physical pleasures, not just not wanting to have possessions weighing you down.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 27, 2016 at 17:11
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    Some folks do suffer from a compulsive disorder that involves possession purging. There may be a term in psychology for it. Not a supporting source, but it may be a thread to pull: theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/09/…. One word from that article is "Spartan"
    – ColleenV
    Apr 27, 2016 at 17:19
  • @Nate: A word that describes the negative mindset.
    – Paulb
    Apr 27, 2016 at 17:20

2 Answers 2


One article describes it as a mental illness: obsessive-compulsive spartanism. That's fairly negative, but you might not want the added baggage of diagnosing someone with a mental illness, so just spartanism might be a good alternative. Spartanism is a little more neutral to me than negative, but some folks might see it as slightly negative.

An article in the Atlantic - The Opposite of Hoarding discusses the challenges faced by folks with this specific flavor of compulsive disorder, because of the cultural view of 'decluttering' as a positive thing. It says "...there’s no official term for compulsive decluttering."

  • Nice find! The Atlantic article was good. I also saw the term compulsive declutterer.
    – Paulb
    Apr 27, 2016 at 17:59

People who have (or want) few possession are called minimalists. People can "travel light" by not carrying possessions with them.

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    But note that there are two possibilities: A person who consciously chooses to live a minimal lifestyle, or a person with a (largely unconscious) compulsion to get rid of stuff. I gather the OP is looking for a term for the second case.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 28, 2016 at 12:03

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