Example: Josh is so interested in mathematics that he sits for hours and hours working on the problems. He forgets to eat. He lost weight, he doesn't clean the house and doesn't even notice what's going on because all he wants to do is his work.

There is a slang expression


that doesn't include the negative side-effects of obsessive work with something that actually produces results but also has very negative side-effects.

Example: Henry likes computer programming so much that software development is all he wants to do. He has no social life and he speaks of advanced computer science with non-technicians so that he doesn't get understood. It takes a Ph D in computer science to understand what Henry is talking about and he is only 14 years old.

  • 4
    Just obsession would probably work. Dec 20, 2016 at 19:55
  • At first I thought you might be describing a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a form of mental illness that has its own chapter in the DSM-V; however, after reading a little more about it, this is something quite different. I recall the (unconfirmed) story that Einstein's wife painted their front door red because Albert would walk into the first house that looked similar to his, sit down and continue working. Dec 20, 2016 at 20:13
  • too much of a good thing
    – Drew
    Dec 20, 2016 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


Workalcholic does convey the idea of an obsessive dedication to work:


  • a person obsessively addicted to work

(Collins Dictionary)

  • A workaholic is a person who works compulsively. There is no generally accepted medical definition of such a condition, although some forms of stress, impulse control disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder can be work-related.

Origin of the term:

  • The word itself is a portmanteau word composed of work and alcoholic. Its first known appearance, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, came in Canada in the Toronto Daily Star of 5 April 1947, page 6, with a punning allusion to Alcoholics Anonymous:

    • If you are cursed with an unconquerable craving for work, call Workaholics Synonymous, and a reformed worker will aid you back to happy idleness.


also Stakhanovite:

  • An exceptionally hard-working or zealous person:


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