I am looking for a euphemism for "selfish" or "selfishness" (want to express it in writing in a workplace context to describe the specific behaviour of some colleagues, but I find selfish too direct)

  • I can think of a bunch of related terms, though I don't know whether you would consider any of them euphemisms: self-serving, self-centered, self-involved, egocentric, lacking empathy. Apr 9, 2018 at 10:18
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    What did a thesaurus suggest? Did you do the usual exploration of a thesaurus, clicking on one suggestion, then clicking on suggestions there and so on?
    – Mitch
    Apr 9, 2018 at 13:54
  • I haven’t got a thesaurus which could interpret my specific need (which I tried to describe in the post) and suggest a socially acceptable word
    – senseiwu
    Apr 9, 2018 at 14:09
  • The point of consulting a thesaurus before asking here is because you are the best interpreter of your specific need, and looking at all those choices might give you the right word. (Of course you should combine this with looking up unfamiliar suggestions in a dictionary.) If that doesn't help, then you can tell us what words you've already considered, and why they don't work for you, so that we don't suggest a bunch of terms that don't work. This is generally required for this kind of word/phrase request, along with an example sentence showing just how you want to use the term.
    – 1006a
    Apr 9, 2018 at 14:25
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    Consulting a thesaurus would nowadays mean searching in google which I did. In this case, I got lots of synonyms which are actually harsher than "selfish" -- I am looking for precisely the opposite!
    – senseiwu
    Apr 9, 2018 at 21:29

1 Answer 1


This is not so simple.
To express what you seem to want, some creative construction will be needed.

Some of our colleagues are oriented to achieving their own goals. This is understandable and useful at times. But a common success will be all we can realistically hope to gain as a reward for our work. That success will not be except we work toward the same goals.

I think with some thought, the above construction can be worked to what you specifically need.

  • this sounds to me the right direction. I was more thinking like "focused on their own need"...though I am still curious whether a single, milder word other than selfish exists
    – senseiwu
    Apr 10, 2018 at 10:42
  • I am reasonably sure any single word will not carry the desired intent. Ambitious might work, but the intent might not be clear.
    – J. Taylor
    Apr 10, 2018 at 11:18

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