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English buddies! I've got presque vu today.

I'm looking for an adjective or noun that connotes:

  1. A risk-taking individual
  2. A unique individual
  3. An individual who isn't content with following in the footsteps of others.

I feel like a word for this does exist, but I can't think of it! (In other words, college application essays frustrate me.)

I'd be grateful for any help!

EDIT: Thank you all so much! I need it because my counselor wanted me to describe myself in 3 words...which is difficult. I appreciate all the words :)

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    Can you write an example sentence where the word would be used? – user140086 Jun 28 '16 at 17:24
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    Sounds like a maverick (helpfully, the word can be a noun or an adjective). – 1006a Jun 28 '16 at 18:46
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    Depending on context, iconoclast may also fit. – Will Kunkel Jun 29 '16 at 3:28
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The word iconoclast means someone who breaks (with) outmoded traditions. It doesn't specifically denote a risk-taker, but it does have those connotations. By its origins, it denotes a social reformer, but it's most often used now just to indicate someone who refuses to (as you indicated) follow in the footsteps of others.

Iconoclast: a person who criticizes or opposes beliefs and practices that are widely accepted.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/iconoclast

The word comes from those who literally broke "icons" or religious images, out of the belief that they were superstitious and/or idolatrous.

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A frequently used noun would be "Trailblazer" - owing to the concept of the first person to enter an unknown, potentially risky area. The term is used in nearly any application where innovation, and a fearless disregard for conventional wisdom are involved , i.e. Medicine, Technology, Sports, etc.

Example: "Dr. DeBakey was considered by most to be a true trailblazer, a pioneer in Cardiac surgeries"

  • The avant-garde (from French, "advance guard") has a meaning very similar to that of "trailblazer". – Scott Jun 29 '16 at 4:37
  • This might be a bit of an over-reach for a 16 year-old kid. – Cascabel Jun 29 '16 at 19:46

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