I'm writing a very short (one sentence) description that is meant to be a tagline. I'm looking for a single adjective to describe an individual who has personal problems (or, rather, negative traits that the individual is attempting to improve on) that he/she is battling internally:

  • Impatience
  • Cynicism
  • Lack of enthusiasm

A crude example (not the actual description) to illustrate what I am working with is as follows:

The story of four [insert word] friends who are trying to find their place in the world.

As of now, the only word I can think of is "troubled", however I would like to know what other words are available for me to use.

  • Are the persons all of the same age, say, in their twenties?
    – rajah9
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 18:29
  • Yes, they are all the same age.
    – pidgeon
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 18:31
  • flawed, or, if you'd like a fancier word and can work with a noun instead of an adjective, foibles (meaning personal flaws).
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 18:32
  • 1
    Have you tried wordhippo? I've found the site to be extremely helpful, both for synonyms and antonyms. Don Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 19:09
  • I would describe them as misfits although the term is somewhat overused.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 1:47

3 Answers 3


I would use the adjective jaded, which means tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm. It implies an internal dissatisfaction that may not be shared by others. For example, one can become jaded by living too long in a large city, and become unenthusiastic, cynical and distrustful of others.

This is well-suited to the idea of trying to improve or fit in, as becoming jaded is something that happens slowly over time. It's also pretty universally seen as a bad thing that takes a personal, internal realignment of attitudes to reverse.

  • jaded is a good word. I'd express a possible reservation that it is commonly used to describe someone competent and successful at something that has lost a spark of idealism and personal engagement in what they're doing and less frequently used to describe a "slackers" or someone that never cared in the first place.
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 0:46

Maybe you have on your hands a group of maladapted misanthropes?

Maladapted meaning one not well adapted to their circumstances, and a misanthrope being one who generally dislikes mankind/everything around them.


Or maybe your protagonists are less misanthropes and more miscreants? Meaning one who behaves badly or breaks the rules, with less of a connotation of anger/hatred.

  • Niiiice! +1 and my commendations.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 18:42
  • These are great words! Thank you :) I don't think I can use it in my description, but the words are definitely going to be used elsewhere. +1
    – pidgeon
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 18:43
  • 1
    I'm not so sure about "misanthrope." The OP made clear that the people of whom he speaks are attempting to improve themselves. Your average misanthrope most likely is not interested in changing his or her misanthropic ways. (Just a thought. I'm not bucking to become a moderator!) Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 19:07
  • @rhetorician, while your average misanthrope may not be interested in improving themselves, there's no reason you can't have one who is. Perhaps they have become jaded over the course of time which has turned them into misanthropes, and they set upon a path to regain their sense of wonder and love for the world.
    – Cameron
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 19:22
  • 1
    I have a 'pet peeve' about using the word Misanthrope - one def: a person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society. A cynical take on people -believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity- means that you see people are flawed. Dislike vs Flaws. You can love someone despite seeing their faults. . . .. in fact many writers like Shakespeare have a field-day accentuating human weaknesses in ways that embraces our failures as part of our humanity...
    – Tom22
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 2:54

Benighted: "In a state of pitiful or contemptible [emphasis added] intellectual or moral [emphasis added] ignorance". (Oxford Dictionary)

'they saw themselves as bringers of culture to poor benighted people' (Oxford Dictionary)

  • Evidently the detractors are...benighted! Poor souls. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 1:47

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