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I am searching for a word which means someone who has an obsession with being 'Normal', or someone who cannot bear to be different from other people, or similar. Is there any such?

Context:-

A lives in a western country, and always eats rice with chopsticks. His mother B scolds him for not eating like a normal person. When he cries due to the rather vigorous scolding, he is again scolded for not crying properly.

A suitable adjective for B?

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  • Related: One word noun for “rule-follower” The description of the person is; however, quite different.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 10:55
  • Is the mother, B, really a good example of what you're asking about? She might be viewed primarily as "a nag" -- she's not simply obsessed with being normal herself, she's obsessed with bossing someone else (her son), with getting him to conform to her norms.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 2:06
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    Adding the example changes the question somewhat, so that some answers now look strange. I originally interpreted the question as "a word for someone who wants themself to be normal" however your example now means they want their child to behave in a "normal" way (whatever that is). In that case controlling (or maybe concerned) seem closer to the mark. Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 21:18
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    You asked for "someone who cannot bear to be different from other people", you got plenty of good answers for this. You then gave an example which doesn't seem to touch on normality, and changed it to be about somebody wanting someone else to be different. This late change completely invalidates answers with a +80 score! Voting to close as unclear what you're asking.
    – AndyT
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 10:37
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    @AndyT I've understood the example as showing a mother who perceives her son to be different from everyone else around him, she doesn't want him to stick out or be noticed, in her eyes he does not behave like "normal" people, so she is the fanatical conformist. I think the sample sentence is acceptable.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 19:59

14 Answers 14

90

How about conformist?

From Dictionary.com:

conformist
[kuh n-fawr-mist]

a person who conforms, especially unquestioningly, to the usual practices or standards of a group, society, etc.

EDIT: As user BerndGit pointed out, you could really underline the 'obsessive' with pathological conformist

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  • 1
    Well, it's close enough to what I'm looking for. If I don't get any better answers within a few days, I'll accept it. Good work. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 7:23
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    Obsessive conformist?
    – Shane
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 14:15
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    pathological conformist?
    – BerndGit
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 15:41
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    Well, I lose. This is the best word for my purposes. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:41
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    You misunderstand that scene from The Big Lebowski. As used by Lebowski in that scene, a fascist is a thug working for an organized government that rules by fear and violence.
    – Lee Mosher
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 20:36
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Normalist

A believer in or proponent of norms or normality.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/normalist

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Your example helps a lot. You are talking about someone who is very conventional.

Conventional -- Conforming to established practice or accepted standards [American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Ed.]

The mother who scolds a child for not following traditional habits, when those habits are minor and have no bearing on modern life, is clinging to that tradition for dear life. She is stuck in the past, with undue reverence for convention.

Scolding a loved one 'for not crying properly' is also a controlling scold. Rather than trying to make sure that she fits in, she wants others to do so.

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  • I completely agree with the conventional part, but the traditionalist doesn't seem right. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 19:13
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More colloquially, you could call the person (a) square (as opposed to hip).

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  • If you're referring to someone as a square it's because they didn't go to the big event that everyone else went to, so they're actually not normal.
    – Separatrix
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 12:01
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    @Separatrix It all depends on who defines the norm. To be sure, from the hipster's perspective, not being (descriptively) normal is the (prescriptive) norm. Hence the paradox of the hipster. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 13:18
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    While this term has the correct meaning, it's quite outdated. I'd expect to only ever hear this term in the context of trying to make an anachronistic joke. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 15:44
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    I think you are forgetting that it is actually hip to be square.
    – Ghost Koi
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 16:55
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    It's worth linking it to the question that was inspired by this answer: What is the origin and meaning of “to be a square”?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 8:44
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I would argue you can't be obsessed with being normal and actually be normal. To obsess over it is to be weird in itself so given that, it will depend if this is coming from the 3rd person or not.

If you are talking about judgement from a negative 3rd person who is in fact likely the obsessive (with being not-normal, non-mainstream, 'unique') then they might use Pretentious, Sycophant, Conformist (as user1993 already suggested), Townie or Beta (both colloquial)

A more positive 3rd person may call them a Social Butterfly or Amiable

But, if this were a first-person assessment of themselves, they are more likely to say Plain, Normal or Average.

However, if this really is a person obsessed with the pursuit of normal, then they will probably see themselves as a Weird outsider (hence the obsession) and perhaps describe themselves that way or with the word Wannabe or Nobody

And in the same case, the negative 3rd person may (incorrectly) say they are an Attention Seeker (incorrect as they are trying to blend in, not stand out), Insecure or Needy

I'm basing these suggestion just on observations over years conducting interviews and working in bars, events and other industries, which is why they lean towards colloquial use and are not necessarily correct use of language

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7

A relatively new word from the world of fashion might work

normcore

embracing sameness deliberately as a new way of being cool, rather than striving for “difference” or “authenticity.”

... is how it's defined in a New York article introducing the term.

(The inventors of the word say the meaning's been changed.)

Normcore is now in a journalism stylebook and written up by Oxford dictionaries. And the Wikipedia article is quite good.

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  • I've also heard "normalcool" used on internet message board going back at least 3 years ago and it seems to be used in a similar way except that it's typically used as a pejorative. I don't think you would ever find "normalcool" in any kind of print media though.
    – syntonicC
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 15:23
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I found that there is already a scientific word for that: "Normopath"

See: https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/normopath

normopath (plural normopaths) A person who conforms excessively to social norms.

More details (in german): https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normopathie

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  • I'm not talking about what B is, but that B wants others to be. Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 9:56
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Conformist, as already answered is a good fit. If you are looking for a pejorative synonym, sheep is an alternative.

Macmillan:

sheep NOUN [COUNTABLE]

2 INFORMAL someone who does the same as everyone else without thinking about it

ODO:

sheep NOUN

2 Used with reference to people who are too easily influenced or led.

‘Don't be a sheep and follow the flock, do something for yourselves, for God's sake.’

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    Not so sure this works. The OP seems to be looking for someone who is actively trying to be like others, whereas a sheep is (by the Macmillan definition) someone who does it passively.
    – AndyT
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 15:10
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normie is a pejorative term in certain online communities referring to those who embrace mainstream culture to the point of being seen as 'unoriginal' or 'conventional' but in certain other contexts it could also mean someone who doesn't have any psychological or mental disorders.

From the perspective of the users of this word, a normie could arguably be seen as one almost obsessed with being normal.

Sources:

KnowYourMeme, reddit, urban dictionary

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    I don't know what to say about this, but I don't think that a wide group of people would recognize this word. But +1 for effort. And coolness. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:01
  • I'd wager to say teenagers and people in their 20s who have spent enough time on the internet would be familiar with it.
    – Nobilis
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:08
  • Yes, but they're not exactly a majority. Most people are the 30 something working, who don't spend that type of time on the net. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:09
  • @marsh, of course, I did point it out in the answer.
    – Nobilis
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:24
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    @Nobilis oops missed that sorry
    – marsh
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:29
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maybe not quite right but I have heard of "mainstreamer" - its a group in advertising who are "normal" - ... maybe what is "normal" .. Mr Average .. Ms Average ... Mr Median ! Ms Mean ... or "On trend" - in french "a la mode" ... not sure how to rephrase it if they are obsessive about it ...

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  • This suggests... Uh., Passive normality, but I'm looking for someone who is trying to be normal. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:51
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"Normal" is a subjective and relative term — something can only be described as such in relation to a "norm" or standard. When you use the word "normal" in this way you may appear to the reader to assume that you both share a similar idea. Or you may sound critical or disapproving of the idea of normality. The words "conformist" or "conventional" sound more objective.

Your words "cannot bear to be" suggest that you may be leaning towards the less objective side. "Obsession" can sometimes have a positive connotation( "passion") but more commonly denotes an unhealthy state of mind.

I can't think of a single-word term for what you seem to want to say. These are some possibilities that come to mind, and they could be recombined with each other:

  1. obsessively conventional
  2. obsessively conformist
  3. obsessed with not standing out
  4. fearful of standing out from the crowd
  5. anxious to be thought of as "normal"
  6. over-concerned with following convention

Personally, I lean towards 1 and 2, although 3 might fit if you want to express some personal disapproval of the idea of normality.

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  • I already used 3 in the question, and 1 and 2 seem to be different ways of saying the same thing. The rest are, unfortunately, overly long. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:49
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"Airhead" or "Basic"? (amoungst other terms mentioned on this Wiki Page for "Airhead")

"Airhead", also known as "ghetto prep", "popular", "Trixie" (in Chicago),1 "basic b***h", or simply" "basic", is a slang term in American popular culture used to pejoratively describe middle class white women who are perceived to predominantly like mainstream products, trends, or music[2] while at the same time fearing and disliking diversity.

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  • I'm not talking about what B is, but that B wants to be. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:40
  • @MalayTheDynamo "Lohanthony, who made a ten-second viral video in 2012 in which he said "Calling all the basic b***hes, calling the basic b****hes, there's a new announcement: You're basic", describes basic b***hes as "someone who does what everyone else is doing and isn't their own person at all" - The act of being popular and "basic" removes YOU from the equation... Might be a stretch, but I see "basic" as someone who does what's popular. That requires effort and attention to "being" basic.
    – WernerCD
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:45
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    Uh, sorry, but not what I'm looking for. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:52
  • @MalayTheDynamo Worth a try and not a term I saw others use :)
    – WernerCD
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 19:42
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Chameleon

A person who adjusts themselves to fit into whatever happens to be cool at the moment. Includes their appearance, their interests, their opinions, their personalities. Often referred to as 'scenesters' 'try-too-hards' or 'idiots'. (Urban Dictionary)

(For me, the added "context" confused things....)

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One ought to call such a normalist "abnormal", however, it should not be done to their face. This comes from the authority of a well-known blogger.

I would call them abnormal (just not to their face).

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    Your comment is funny, helpful, and brief. Placed as a Comment, it would fit better than as an Answer. You could move it right there. This site expects Answers to be more authoritative, whereas your opening "I would call them" is a signal of opinion. No disrespect meant. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 16:55
  • Your comment is both a comment and an answer, although the question was not spoken. It hurt my feelings. Feelings matter. (Get with the milleniums!) Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:05
  • My apologies. I meant to be as gentle as I could as a reviewer charged with screening new members who post for the first time, unaware that we have standards. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:56
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    Please take another look at my original comment. It starts with a sincere compliment followed by an explanation of the mistake. Third suggests you to take action yourself before you are embarrassed when monitors delete your answer. Fourth ends with humility. Again, sorry if I hurt your feelings unintentionally and you are unable to accept this apology. Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:56
  • "abnormal normal" :)
    – BerndGit
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 9:21

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