Wasting time trying to make progress when in fact you're only reversing your progress. Similar to unproductive.

"This is so... insert word here"

  • 7
    If you want to be disparaging then "regressive" is probably the best word to use. It conveys the image of a gorilla dragging his knuckles, or something similar. Most other terms are negative, but less so.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 6, 2017 at 22:47
  • nonconstructive. Feb 7, 2017 at 5:46
  • I think this is somewhat dependant on the context. In some cases you could right away say destructive. Feb 7, 2017 at 12:12
  • 1
    The word backslide has the right sort of feel but may not fit in the sample sentence.
    – KalleMP
    Feb 7, 2017 at 13:04
  • 1
    I won't file it as an answer since it's not considered a polite term anymore, but the word for delaying progress is "retard", so "This is so retarded" would have originally meant something like "The progress on this has been excessively delayed". Unfortunately it wouldn't be interpreted that way anymore, so I can only mention it as an academic point. dons flame retardant suit
    – Kaithar
    Feb 8, 2017 at 8:41

8 Answers 8


The word you are looking for is counterproductive. From the free dictionary:

tending to hinder or act against the achievement of an aim

  • 4
    This is right in terms of filling in the example, but indeed "regressive" is the answer to the question. In the old analogy style, "Productive" is to "Counterproductive" as "Progress" is to "Regress". The term "progressive" does not usually mean quite the same thing as "making progress" so this is the main reason, I think, why "counterproductive" would be the preferred term here (regressive, while correct, implies juxtaposition against the wrong term). Feb 7, 2017 at 22:44
  • 3
    I realize that technically speaking, from the first sentence of the question's use of the word progress, regressive is correct, however the question also specified wasting time and gave the example of unproductive, leading me to assume the asker of this question is referring to progress on a project or something work-related. Regressive has more connotations of devolution and actively moving backwards, whereas counterproductive implies that one is trying to make progress on what they are working on but are failing.
    – Cameron
    Feb 7, 2017 at 22:50
  • I would agree, the difference is intent. Regressive is definite and intentional direction while counterproductive is neither. Counterproductive is a closer synonym for unhelpful and unproductive since neither require regression, only a lack of progress.
    – Kaithar
    Feb 8, 2017 at 8:48

Regressing is the word you're looking for, the noun is regression. An alternative is backsliding which is both a gerund and a noun.

  • 2
    Backsliding is only a noun because a gerund is a verb used as a noun. Feb 7, 2017 at 16:07

from dictionary.com, REGRESSIVE is appropriate here, in your context:

"This is so regressive"

enter image description here

  • 9
    Please don't post images. They are inaccessible to searches and screen-readers. Please take the trouble to type out the relevant definition and link to it.
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 8, 2017 at 9:19
  • 5
    Or, you know, just copy and paste. It seems it would actually be harder to post an image. Feb 8, 2017 at 12:48
  • No it isn't a good word. Regression simply means repeating an old behaviour that was once done. That might well bring you forward instead of backward relative to some goal. Feb 8, 2017 at 14:51
  • "This is so undermining the group's efforts" (despite best intentions).
  • "This is so detrimental to the team spirit."

Both words would confer that the efforts erode or diminish past achievements. In fact erode or erosive could be used, too, if the regression is a long-term, unspectacular, rather slow process:

  • "These measures actually erode public confidence in our policies instead of boosting it."

If you are "reversing your progress", you retrograde as mentionned by @WillieWheeler.

EDIT after @Barmar comment: If you are "unproductive" (not counterproductive), i.e. stationary (not reversing), you stagnate.

Definition : to stop developing, growing, progressing, or advancing.

Considering your example "This is so... ", demoralizing may fit.

  • 2
    "stagnate" usually implies staying stationary, not reversing.
    – Barmar
    Feb 6, 2017 at 22:48

Retrograde is a possibility here.

Retrograde (adj). Directed or moving backward.



Adjective form of "reverse of making progress."

Although "frustrating" may be equally valid as a feeling. I am this way quite often !


The logical answer, in context of the question, "undoing progress" implies "Sabotage."

The term for act(s) to halt, hinder or unwind the progress of another.

  • 1
    is it possible to sabotage yourself then?
    – JMP
    Feb 8, 2017 at 8:02
  • @JonMarkPerry, yes. In fact I've run into "self-sabotage" in usage.
    – fixer1234
    Feb 8, 2017 at 8:28
  • Any other answer would require more detail, since this question does not imply whom, "undoes progress", only the act itself.
    – frntncntr
    Feb 8, 2017 at 9:00
  • Sabotage is a deliberate act. The question implies unintentionally going backwards, while actually trying to make progress.
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 8, 2017 at 9:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.