A person who stops themselves to do something because they're not sure yet, so they wait for patterns or for it to recur. Basically what do you call a person who wants to make sure about things before doing anything?

  • I call him maddeningly passive. – aparente001 May 30 '17 at 3:38

Your person is meticulous.

The Latin root of meticulous is metus, which means "fear," so it's easy to see how eventually meticulous got its meaning. Someone who's meticulous is afraid of what will happen if they're not careful enough to get every detail right.

source: vocabulary.com

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  • Does meticulous specifically imply fear of imprecision? I've worked with many people whose work ethic I would describe as meticulous, but who weren't in any way overcome with fear. They were simply devoted to their work. The Latin heritage of the word does not automatically carry over to English. Sinister used to mean "left" in Latin, but the meaning in English has changed completely. – Flater May 30 '17 at 15:43
  • See also: ad hoc, alter ego, quorum, per diem. Although their meaning evolved naturally and originated from the meaning in Latin (although alter ego is more a misunderstanding than a natural evolution), it no longer applies in the same context. – Flater May 30 '17 at 15:57

I would say they were of a hesitant character.

The OED definition of hesitant, with examples of its use is:

Hesitating; irresolute, undecided; stammering.

1647 J. Trapp Comm. Epist. & Rev. (2 Cor. v. 6) Not haesitant, or halting, as Hadrian the Emperour was.

1651 R. Baxter Plain Script. Proof 278 Are you not here hesitant also?

1683 W. Kennett tr. Erasmus Wit against Wisdom 14 The delivery of Achilles was rough, harsh, and hæsitant.

1856 R. A. Vaughan Hours with Mystics (1860) I. iii. i. 52 The hesitant and conflicting conjectures of Philo.

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  • Dear WS2, I see that you have a rather mind-boggling rep. But still, it doesn't seem fair. The rest of us normal mortals are expected to provide documentation in our answers, or else confine our contributions to comments. Shouldn't those norms apply to you as well? – aparente001 May 30 '17 at 3:37
  • @aparente001 I've edited with the OED definition. Will that suffice? – WS2 May 30 '17 at 15:33
  • I didn't make the rules. // Thank you. – aparente001 May 30 '17 at 19:10

I am struggling to find an appropriate adjective. However, I do think that analysis paralysis exactly fits what you are looking for.

analysis paralysis (noun)

Inability to respond effectively to a situation due to an over-analytical approach or to an excess of available information.

It's most commonly used in software development (as far as I'm aware); but it applies to a wide variety of situations.

I would say that this person is frequently overwhelmed by analysis paralysis.

I also want to add a Wikipedia link here. Not as a way to define the word, but it nicely lists common forms of analysis paralysis. I am not sure which context best applies to your case.

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  • You could say they are an analysis paralytic. Or, since paralytic is an adjective. They are analysis paralytic. – thomj1332 May 30 '17 at 16:00
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    @thomj1332: I'm not questioning your logic, but using it as an adjective like that sounds wrong to my ears. Does paralytic as an adjective not state that it causes paralysis, rather than suffers from it? i.e. you can say that "his constant analysis is paralytic", because the constant analysis is the cause. – Flater May 30 '17 at 16:04

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