42

I am looking for a word which can be used to describe someone who is very "comfortable in their skin", secure with themselves, and most importantly completely immune to being embarrassed or mocked.

Some examples might include consistently mispronouncing a word in a conversation (like "pirate" instead of "pilot") without feeling silly, even though others try to mock him/her. Or more seriously, not feeling embarrassed at all if their private photographs (ie in the shower or some other scandal-like situation) were leaked.

Words like "unashamed", "unabashed" or "unapologetic" usually have a negative connotation and do not seem applicable, since the person is not necessarily doing things which society would consider shameful from a moral standpoint.

  • 2
    This is tough because all the words I find either mean "aggressively unashamed" or "oblivious," neither of which I think you mean--I'm thinking more like Jeff Bridges character from The Big Lebowski, who knows you're trying to get under his skin, but is such a "dude," he doesn't really care, but he's not brazen or aloof about it--just shrugs his shoulders and goes on with his day--just like chill, man. – Genxthis Jun 5 '16 at 22:02
  • If you can’t find a single word, it sounds like s/he’s someone who’s “[risen/gone/evolved] above and beyond all that” and who has “nothing to hide or to be ashamed of.” – Papa Poule Jun 5 '16 at 22:49
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    Consider unflappable. – Rahul Jun 6 '16 at 3:21
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    Thick-skinned can be used – Maneesh Jun 6 '16 at 4:34
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    "Unashamed" and "unabashed" have no negative context, they mean exactly what you're trying to describe. These aren't feelings felt by someone who has done a shameful act - they're more general, applying to someone who's in any position to feel shame or to feel bashful and simply doesn't. You're much more correct about "unapologetic" being negative, though, as apology more often than not implies remorse for an intentionally negative action. – talrnu Jun 7 '16 at 18:03

22 Answers 22

77

unflappable

adjective

  1. not easily upset or confused, especially in a crisis; imperturbable.

dictionary.com

I like this word better than imperturbable for the idea of being cool and collected, even in the face of intentional attempts to embarrass or harass.

  • 3
    It's a good idea to emphasize your solution in bold for the TL;DR crowd. Not that your answer is long, but a user who skims through the page might overlook your suggestion. – Mari-Lou A Jun 7 '16 at 5:06
  • I thought unflappable had a quite different meaning to the question; Someone who is unflappable may be very good in a crisis but still easily embarrassed. I can't think of any brilliant answer, it partly depends on attitude; someone could be self-assured, confident, brazen, shameless, composed... each of which conveys a different personality / response / situation. – John U Jun 8 '16 at 12:13
  • I suppose that's true. Unflappable is really more of an outward condition, whereas OP was describing some sort of inner unflapability? – nwhaught Jun 8 '16 at 12:18
42

I'd suggest:

thick-skinned

adjective

  1. insensitive or hardened to criticism, reproach, rebuff, etc

dictionary.com

It may be because I come from East Asia but this is the phrase I most often hear (the phrase also exist in Malay and I believe Mandarin).

It does have a slight negative connotation but I honestly don't believe there can be any word or phrase about the concept of someone not listening to criticism that can get away from any negative connotation. Even words like "brazen" imply that the person is overconfident.

  • 10
    I don't know about in East Asia, but I don't think thick-skinned has negative connotations here in the US. – DCShannon Jun 6 '16 at 17:53
  • I wouldn't have said that "immune to criticism" ("thick-skinned") is necessarily the same as "immune to embarrassment". – TrevorD Jun 7 '16 at 19:10
23

I don’t fully understand the question and its constraints, so I’ll naïvely suggest the obvious shameless.  But, if you want something value-neutral, and you don’t like imperturbable (suggested by another answer), then possibly composed might work:

calm and in control of your emotions

  • 2
    Shameless comes with the moral connotations, that the person doesn't care that what he's doing is wrong. This is not the same as the OP's request about things that are embarrassing—not the same concept as morally shameful. – ErikE Jun 6 '16 at 23:43
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    @ErikE I googled shame and got: a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. Nothing about morality is implied. shameless = immune to "humiliation caused by foolish behavior" (embarrassment) so to me this is the most appropriate word – chiliNUT Jun 7 '16 at 18:06
  • @chiliNUT Connotations are often about impressions, and certainly are not always listed in dictionaries, which generally only list true denotations. The most common use of shameless, in my opinion as a native English speaker (for whatever that's worth), is that it does in fact have moral connotations, and thus is not just about embarrassing behavior but about shameful behavior. – ErikE Jun 7 '16 at 18:09
  • I agree with what you're saying about connotations, I guess I just don't share that particular one. – chiliNUT Jun 7 '16 at 18:17
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    @ErikE I'm not sure. I call myself shameless often, and while it might include an element of other people's perception of wrongness, I don't feel it requires my agreement with that perception. That said, it wouldn't apply to, say, "shamelessly slipping on a banana peel" - not all embarrassment is based upon the idea of getting found out for doing something "wrong". – user121868 Jun 8 '16 at 16:27
19

I would suggest unfazed:

adjective

  1. not dismayed or disconcerted; undaunted:

dictionary.com

Not exactly specific to your situation but it has positive connotations and does imply that the subject is aware of the accusations (as opposed to merely not knowing or ignoring out of hand)

  • Or "unfazeable" if it's a characteristic of the person – user568458 Jun 6 '16 at 20:44
18

Brazen and cocksure (suggested earlier) are good words to use if the subject is possibly too insensitive to their circumstances. That is, a brazen person may not mind being embarrassed, but they generally also wouldn't mind embarrassing others just as easily.

I would use confident or self-assured if you want to avoid a negative connotation as much as possible. Dictionary.com:

Confident

2. sure of oneself; having no uncertainty about one's own abilities, correctness, successfulness, etc.; self-confident; bold: a confident speaker.

Self-assured

['Self-assurance' is called an exact synonym with 'self-confidence', which is defined as]

1. realistic confidence in one's own judgment, ability, power, etc.
2. excessive or inflated confidence in one's own judgment, ability, etc.

The second definition here could be a negative trait, but judging from my familiarity with its usage, over-confidence is not the main thrust of the word self-confident/self-assured.

17

imperturbable

adjective

  1. incapable of being upset or agitated; not easily excited; calm:
    imperturbable composure.

[dictionary.com]

11

poised The Free Dictionary

self-possessed; dignified; exhibiting composure....self assured

Someone who is immune to embarrassment is poised, or has poise. Example, from The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne:

But what was most remarkable, and, perhaps, showed a more than common poise in the young man, was the fact that, amid all these personal vicissitudes, he had never lost his identity.

The meaning of poise that I am using in this answer dates from the 1640s, according to Etymonline; the ballerina's poise on-stage (mentioned in one of the comments, below) is more than 100 years later.

The sense of "steadiness, composure" first recorded 1640s, from notion of being equally weighted on either side (1550s). Meaning "balance" is from 1711; meaning "way in which the body is carried" is from 1770.

  • "Poise" has too many synonyms. You answer is too broad. – vickyace Jun 5 '16 at 23:37
  • @vickyace I don't think many users will think I meant "poise: a cgs unit of dynamic viscosity equal to one dyne-second per square centimeter; the viscosity of a fluid in which a force of one dyne per square centimeter maintains a velocity of 1 centimeter per second" :) – ab2 Jun 5 '16 at 23:50
  • Personally, given the question, I would've absolutely gone with "self-assured" in my own writing. Preference, though. – david macCary richter Jun 6 '16 at 0:58
  • I think @vickyace was thinking about stuff like "poise" often referring to posture, bearing, manner — as in ballet dancers, who train every inch of themselves to carry themselves with composure and grace, but that would have nothing to do with them being thin-skinned to scathing opinions offstage. – david macCary richter Jun 6 '16 at 1:01
  • I was talking about synonyms like coolheaded, unperturbed, unruffled, etc. – vickyace Jun 6 '16 at 1:25
8

I like the word "blithe":

  1. joyous, merry, or gay in disposition; glad; cheerful:
    Everyone loved her for her blithe spirit.
  2. without thought or regard; carefree; heedless:
    a blithe indifference to anyone's feelings.

The second meaning works. It's not pejorative, not a callous disregard of mores and feelings, but rather just sort of never realizing they were there.

6

How about insouciant? The simple definition on Merriam-Webster fits pretty well:

"a relaxed and calm state : a feeling of not worrying about anything"

So does the full definition:

"lighthearted unconcern : nonchalance"

M-W's example is:

"wandered into the meeting with complete insouciance to the fact that she was late."

3

"impassive" sounds like a good fit. Such a person isn't exactly immune to embarrassment but they are immune to letting it show. "poker-faced" refers to being deliberately impassive and might fit too. An "imperturbable" character (already mentioned in an answer by dangph) is unlikely to show any embarrassment in the situations you've mentioned.

2

In buddhism one of the four sublime states is equanimity, described as:

Equanimity is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight

Thus, the adjective I'd suggest is equanimous, (which doesn't quite trip off the tongue).

To learn more, see: Akkosa Sutta: Insult

2

The word Resilient might be a good fit. A person who is resilient has earned this status through demonstration of their ability to endure hardship or otherwise adverse situations in a similar way to a person who has earned the status of being successful.

Resilience is an inner strength that is cultivated through being receptive of the negative situation(s) and subsequently overcoming it by undergoing internal change. It is not a strength derived at the expense of others or due necessarily to having boldness of character.

A lot of the other words I can see here could also be used to describe those who are unable to empathise or feel shame/remorse for their actions. Hence, these words may imply the kind of strength that come from a person who chooses to be, or is naturally ignorant of the full dynamics of a situation.

2

It's not an adjective but there is an idiomatic term "to have broad shoulders".

Fig. to have the ability to cope with unpleasant responsibilities; to have the ability to accept criticism or rebuke.

"No need to apologize to me. I can take it. I have broad shoulders."

1

Try cocksure

MW

Feeling perfect assurance sometimes on inadequate grounds.

There is also the common brazen.

MW

Acting in a very open way (confident way) without shame or embarrassment

1

You can say that the person is unvexed. This suggests that the person is not affected by societal attacks such as embarrassment or mocking and is thus comfortable with themselves.

Unvexed - free from disturbance (MW)

1

This idiom describes the (non-)effect of the criticism, rather than the person criticised, but I think it may be useful to OP:

water off a duck's back

A potentially hurtful or harmful remark or incident that has no apparent effect on the person mentioned

  • "it was like water off a duck’s back to Nick, but I’m sure it upset Paul"

  • "Whenever other people came under fire, they tried to deflect it elsewhere, but it's water off a duck's back."

  • "We are used to getting flak from the public over the vehicles we book, so it is water off a duck's back to us."

  • "However, if the intention was to shame him then it failed because my friend told me it seemed to run off him like water off a duck's back."

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/american_english/water-off-a-duck's-back

See also: https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/39420/when-can-i-use-the-expression-water-off-a-ducks-back

1

Why Trump is “Teflon Don” (CNN)

“Teflon is a nickname given to persons, particularly in politics, to whom criticism does not seem to stick. (...)

“Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States, was called by his detractors ‘the Teflon president’. The nickname was coined by Patricia Schroeder, a Congresswoman, and reflected on how a plethora of scandals surrounding his presidency seemed to have no effect on his individual popularity with the public.”

“Teflon (nickname)”, Wikipedia

See all 436 instances of Donald Trump being described as “teflon” by the media.

Other words:

  • Negative: arrogant, obnoxious, shameless, impertinent, rude, uncouth, dumb, insensitive, inconsiderate, disrespectful, brash, self-congratulatory, “without respect, humility and dignity”.
  • Positive: confident, self-confident, unapolegetic.
  • Neutral: audacious, brazen, unembarrassed, defiant.

“Teflon Don” by cartoonist Gary Varvel

“The Teflon Don: Donald Trump appears to be bullet-proof. Despite being challenged by Republicans, Democrats and the media, he continues to stay ahead in the polls.”
– cartoonist Gary Varvel (The Indianapolis Star)

“For months now, Republican presidential candidates have been trying to figure out how to disparage Donald Trump effectively.”
“Teflon Don” (The Washington Post)

0

According to Oxford Dictionaries, nonplussed means what you describe, in North American slang:

In North American English a new use has developed in recent years, meaning ‘unperturbed’—more or less the opposite of its traditional meaning—as in ‘he was clearly trying to appear nonplussed’. This new use probably arose on the assumption that non- was the normal negative prefix and must therefore have a negative meaning. It is not considered part of standard English.

0

At the risk of stating the obvious, unembarrassable says pretty much exactly what you’re asking for.

It’s a long and uncommon word, but it won’t confuse anyone or come across as awkward or fancy, because it’s built just from a couple of standard constructions (the suffix -able and the prefix un-) on top of the root embarrass. And it’s reasonably well-established in both colloquial and formal use: for an example in high-quality edited writing, see The perks of being unembarrassable, in The Cut (the fashion arm of New York magazine), which paints a picture very close to the examples in your question.

0

unpretentious un·pre·ten·tious \ -ˈten(t)-shəs\

not having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are : not pretentious.

free from ostentation, elegance, or affectation : modest MW

modest mod·est \ˈmä-dəst\

not too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities : not showing or feeling great or excessive pride –MW

There's a really great phrase for this, it's even an acronym now: (using language that I am not allowed to utter here) 'I Don't Give A [Care]'. There's also, 'gives no [cares]' and 'no [cares] given'. (Oops. Did I go too far and upset someone's pretentious sensibilities? -hook, line and sinker; your move ;)

  • I really don't see how "unpretentious" or "modest" can fit the bill. "IDGAS" is a possible. – Law29 Jun 8 '16 at 17:50
  • @Law29 - I'm modest enough to walk around naked, but pretentious enough not to do so. (I don't care, it's that you might) – Mazura Jun 8 '16 at 22:03
0

UNBENDING http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unbending

STAUNCH http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/staunch

OILTIGHT, BALLPROOF ... etc.

I am a bit horrified with the wandering collocation: the asker names situations as intimate photos leaked, or purposely mispronouncing words. The answers happen to be "imperturbable", "confident", "poised", "equanimous", "unpretentious", or "modest".

Are you "pretentious" or "lack in modesty", if you do not take intimate photos or mispronounce words? ;)

  • Why is "unbending" immune to embarrassment? Someone who is unbending is inflexible, stubborn. Likewise if someone is a staunch supporter of a cause, they are unafraid to show their loyalty. What's embarrassment got to do with that? The OP provides examples of what may be considered embarrassing situations, the mispronunciation of a word—happens to everyone, sooner or later— someone seeing a nude picture of you — a recurring possibility in the age of Internet and instagram. – Mari-Lou A Jun 8 '16 at 6:09
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    @Mari-Lou, when you are unbending, it is about something, a feature or trait you can choose. Nobody is unbending generally, as about everything. In the example, the mispronunciation is to be purposed. Someone would be unbending in continuing to say a word or words in a chosen way. Whatever the possibility for pictures to be leaked if you never take them (as for my comment), you can be staunch as "unshrinking". The adjective is not reserved to causes or politics, however often we learn words in collocations. – Teresa Pelka Jun 8 '16 at 6:52
  • Good comment/risposte. – Mari-Lou A Jun 8 '16 at 6:54
0

If one is immune to embarrassment, then it would not bother them to be embarrassed. People react to embarrassment in many ways - some people show it and others not so much. So, we don't really know how they feel.

That being said, if you want to express that someone isn't bothered by embarrassment, then perhaps you should say that they have humility:

The quality or state of being humble

--Merriam-Webster

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