In essence it should communicate that someone is mostly preoccupied with his field of study and does not care much about other things going around him. He is an expert in his field but is not interested in "mundane" things. This leads to e.g.:

  • Having messy, wild hair.
  • Not caring how old the clothes are that he wears.
  • Not interested in fulfilling other social norms.

The word does not have to include all the points but only the meaning put in bold letters, the rest kind of follows from that. It does not imply any madness or megalomania. Also the connotation should not be negative.

Example usage with adjective: Professor Smith is really ____ , but he is one of the best professors I know because he can engage students in a way that other lecturers cannot.

Example usage with noun: Professor Smith is a real ____ , but he is one of the best professors I know because he can engage students in a way that other lecturers cannot.

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    Hello, problemofficer. ELU expects one distinct question at a time. You seem to be cunningly lumping several here; there is not going to be a word meaning precisely 'having messy, wild hair and not caring much about other subjects beside his own field of study'. 'Professorial' has the sense 'looking or behaving like a professor' (amongst others), but assumes that they all behave the same way; this may be as close as you can get, but it's pretty unspecific. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 4 '17 at 17:29
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    If you are truly looking for a single word, (or phrase) please edit your question to include a sentence showing how the word would be used (put an X or ___ where the word would go.) – Roger Sinasohn Jul 4 '17 at 17:36
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    You may find eccentric and absent-minded useful. – Steve Lovell Jul 4 '17 at 18:02
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    @Cascabel Thank you for the correction of "conductive". – problemofficer Jul 5 '17 at 4:22
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    Just as it is considered inappropriate to ask for adjectives to describe sterotypical "dykes" or "pansies" or "retards", I do not think this post asking for adjectives to describe people with border line personality disorder is appropriate either. It is insensitive and demeaning. IMHO – Cascabel Jul 5 '17 at 4:40

The popular term, I think, is absent-minded professor, reinforced by the movie of the same name. Per Wikipedia:

The absent-minded professor is a stock character of popular fiction, usually portrayed as a talented academic whose academic brilliance is accompanied by below-par functioning in other areas, leading to forgetfulness and mistakes.

And just to be complete, absent-minded from Oxford Dictionaries:



Having or showing a forgetful or inattentive disposition.
‘an absent-minded smile’
‘Tal sighed: no one would ever let him forget how absent-minded he could be.’
‘This is no absent-minded professor, lost in the world of abstraction.’


Their clothes might be disheveled:

(of a person's hair, clothes, or appearance) untidy; disordered.

As you can see here, they may be a monomaniac:

someone with an inordinate or obsessive zeal for or interest in a single thing, idea, subject, or the like

Asocial describes someone who prefers:

avoiding social interaction

I don't think there's a single word for all these words, but some pithy description might suffice, depending on the context.

Definitions from Oxford unless stated otherwise.

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