I've written a song about people who constantly wait for something good to happen to them and am looking for a word to describe this state/paradox/condition.

The song is about people who expect life to get better for no reason, talk about moving to a bigger city or a different place as if that would magically make them rich, famous and happy, and keep talking about how they are going to do this or that, but never do it. I was under the impression that there's a psychological term for this state, but can't google it up, so I probably made it up.

This is essentially a song about myself, I keep talking about how I love to make music, or shoot videos, but I never actually produce anything, yet it's the only thing I can think of. When it comes to the moment to take action – I just stay at home watching tv shows.

I know it's a broad question and list of topics, but I guess I'm looking for a word that describes this state – of doing NOTHING.

  • Found online: I had a millennial call herself an "optimistic fatalist". "I really hope I am wrong, but I am not going to do what I want." It depresses me. Depresses me, indeed.
    – Kris
    Jun 8, 2018 at 8:04

8 Answers 8


Maybe not the greatest word for a song, but dreamer:

2a : one who lives in a world of fancy and imagination

Fantasist and Walter Mitty show up as synonyms.

  • You can't say it's not a good word for a song how about Imagine "you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one". Not my favourite John Lennon song but lots of people think it's great.
    – BoldBen
    Jan 29, 2018 at 7:17
  • This is the answer I would have given. Mar 30, 2018 at 16:08

Not a noun, but the adjective passive comes to mind:

  1. Existing, conducted, or experienced without active or concerted effort

As a noun, perhaps passenger (in one's own life):

1 someone who travels in a motor vehicle, aircraft, train, or ship but is not the driver or one of the people who works on it


2 MAINLY BRITISH someone in a team who does not do his or her fair share of the work


a fainéant TFD and Merriam - word of the day! 9-27-14 podcast

adj. Given to doing nothing; lazy. n. One who is lazy or idle. syns. sluggard, wastrel a do nothing, slugabed, indolent

As in:

The faineant he was, Jack waited for life to get good but did nothing to actually make it happen.

  • The problem with this word is that it's marked as archaic in my dictionary, so few people are likely to know what it means without looking it up. (I know I've never heard this word before.)
    – Laurel
    Mar 30, 2018 at 14:40
  • @Laurel: fainéant was our Word of the Day (Merriam Webster) on 09/27/2014. Hear the podcast!
    – lbf
    Mar 30, 2018 at 14:44

Not a word, but two idioms

all talk and no action

Someone who is good at talking about themselves, for example how they're going to make it big one day, but then when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, they fail to put in the hard work.

used to describe someone who talks about doing something but never does it:

A more vivid and derogatory alternative is the following

all hat and no cattle

Tend to talk boastfully without acting on one's words

“It's all hat and no cattle, all buckle and no belt; or, as a noted English playwright once put it, ‘It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’”

English Oxford Dictionaries

  • 'All hat and no cattle' is a new one on me, and fun. I had to re-read the example; I was fairly sure it wasn't Shakespeare (but still rather disappointed). Disappointed fits in rather well – I'm imagining the Python Vikings eating Spam in the transport caff with de-horned helms. Sadly more historically accurate. // Perhaps Christmas hats on ELU could be helmets this year; I'd probably make an effort. //// Apologies; I'm in a fey mood. Nov 28, 2020 at 11:34
  • @EdwinAshworth no need to apology. I thought your comment was an Ashworthy exemplar.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 28, 2020 at 21:48
  • Did you hear the marvellous soundbite from the PM? " 'Tis the season to be jolly. But 'tis also the season to be jolly careful." I don't think Churchill could have delivered this so well. And as for Maggie.... Nov 29, 2020 at 15:14

You might say it's a wait and see mentality, according to Macmillan Dictionary:

to stay calm and delay doing something until you see what happens

What you describe sounds like someone who waits and sees as a general state of being.

Attribution: "Wait and See - definition and Synonyms." Wait and See (phrase) Definition and Synonyms | Macmillan Dictionary. Accessed March 30, 2018. https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/wait-and-see.


Such a person is a daydreamer (as they are indulging in daydreaming).



daydreamer (plural daydreamers)

A person who wastes time daydreaming of accomplishments instead of accomplishing things.


I call this type of person a someday person.

This type of person says stuff like "Someday I'd like to..." but doesn't really work towards it.

This is certainly not a common term, and I'm only leaving this as an answer because you said you're writing a song, so I figured something a little less literal might be useful.

Doing a google search of "someday person" does provide a few usages though:

For what it's worth I think we're all someday people every once in a while.


The verb "to languish" sounds like an accurate description of what the type of person you are describing is doing.

From Oxford Dictionaries Online:



1.1 Fail to make progress or be successful.

‘Kelso languish near the bottom of the Scottish First Division’

Oxford Dictionaries online also has an entry for a noun form of the word ('languisher') but its only content is a link back to the definition of 'languish'.

  • There doesn’t seem to be anything in your definition about not putting in the work/effort which was the thrust of the question. You might assume Kelso haven’t shifted their arses but it isn’t automatic or definitional.
    – Spagirl
    Apr 2, 2018 at 6:08

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