I'm looking for a word that describes someone who expects something to go wrong out of scepticism and doubt and disagrees ardently.

e.g. "I'm thinking that taking this route could be faster"

"It's not going to be faster(without knowing for sure)"

  • 4
    A realist? Don't forget Scott Adams' definition of an optimist: a pessimist with no real-world work experience.
    – alephzero
    Apr 22, 2017 at 15:24
  • 2
    – Drew
    Apr 23, 2017 at 2:21

8 Answers 8


Pessimist, defeatist, pragmatist.

I couldn't find an exact word, but hopefully these will help. If not, the word you used (sceptic) could work

  • 2
    I like how you put pragmatist, could have possibly also put realist given the person does not have much hope for the endeavour to succeed, it is either the one or the other and before the human debate (hope/religion vs. realist/pragmatist/physicist or based on hard facts) unfolds I end this comment.
    – lowtechsun
    Apr 22, 2017 at 15:10
  • Pragmatism has more of a vibe of "it's gonna go wrong, and we're gonna deal with it going wrong" - quite the opposite. Apr 22, 2017 at 15:43
  • "realist" is a cynical way to imply "pessimist" but it is true in certain contexts, for example in the concept of my political science study, we learned that "realists" tend to support mutually assured destruction i.e. they support nuclear armament. Apr 23, 2017 at 6:34

I like naysayer

: one who denies, opposes, refutes, or is skeptical or cynical about something. {Webster's}

"There are always naysayers who say it can't be done."

  • Naysayer, or doomsayer. Apr 23, 2017 at 9:01

its not necessarily a word, but Murphy's Law expresses that everything that CAN go wrong, WILL go wrong. So if someone is always being a pessimist, just call them a Murphy.


Contrarian -- MW

: a person who takes a contrary position or attitude; specifically : an investor who buys shares of stock when most others are selling and sells when others are buying

contrarian adjective contrarianism -ə-ˌniz-əm\ noun


Fatalist. (Noun) A person who believes that bad things can not be avoided. Example: "King was a fatalist, resigned to whatever happened, telling aides he had no choice in how he would die, or when."

  • Whereas fatalism often is associated with expecting bad things to happen, pessimism would be a more precise word.
    – olegst
    Apr 24, 2017 at 12:04

wet blanket, party pooper, contrarian, curmudgeon, fussbudget, Dr. Doom, naysayer, pessimist, Mr. Happiness, etc.


defeatist. ye/one of little faith.

She that thought it would surely fall like one of little faith.


one who is always hatin' on stuff

"Dude. Why you always gotta be a hater?!"

  • also negative nancy/nate
    – albert
    Apr 22, 2017 at 16:08
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    While not wishing to be unduly critical of a first answer, I would point out that the example you quote does not use the word "hater" that you suggest. While the example is quite credible, the accepted practice on this site is to quote an actual. example, giving a link. This is generally not too difficult if you Google for the phrase and put it in quotes.
    – David
    Apr 22, 2017 at 18:50
  • Well said, sir, and duly noted. I must do better. In fact, I will do better.
    – Phil_ish
    Apr 22, 2017 at 19:34

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