I need a word for when someone is trying to buy a new shirt, but hasn't found anything suitable yet.

For example: He searched everywhere but couldn't find his...........

Note: this applies to more than clothes, and I'm trying to find a translation of "مبتغى" or "غاية", an Arabic word which Google translates as destination, although in Arabic it is also used for anything that you've been searching for, or wanting. Example: Victory was our(......)

  • Hi, cat, and welcome to EL&U. Would this apply only to clothes, or does it work with people too? Or maybe a scientific proof? – Cascabel Jul 31 '18 at 20:23
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    If you haven't specified what he couldn't find, you will need to specify it. "He searched everywhere but couldn't find the cat/a house/a shirt that fit". If you have previously specified it, you would use the pronoun it. "He searched everywhere but couldn't find it." If you specifically want to keep it all a mystery, you'd just say "He searched everywhere but couldn't find what he was looking for". This is all rather basic. What am I missing here? – RegDwigнt Jul 31 '18 at 20:35
  • RegD. This word should be something like 'wish'. I used shirt as an example, but in the sentence I didn't specify what exactly he's looking for. Is there a word for "What he was looking for"? – ConfusedCat Jul 31 '18 at 20:43
  • @Cat: You'd probably have to use a different word for each individual case. For example, if it were the perfect SO, you could use "soul mate." – Wordster Jul 31 '18 at 20:50
  • You could say, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for – A E Jul 31 '18 at 21:29

There is a word in English which I've come across in academia: desideratum, but I haven't personally heard it used in everyday language.

From dictionary.com:

desiderata [dih-sid-uh-rey-tuh, -rah-, -zid-] plural noun, singular de·sid·er·a·tum.

things wanted or needed; the plural of desideratum:
“Happily-ever-after” and “eternal love” appear to be the desiderata of the current generation; to whom “fat chance” say those of us who are older, wiser, and more curmudgeonly.

'I didn't find what I was looking for' -- only slightly longer if you count the syllables -- is used a lot.

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  • Downvoter, please leave a comment. I found the question interesting (and upvoted) since it seems to be one of those concepts which has a noun in Arabic or German (probably other languages too), but not really in English, at least not a noun that covers the whole semantic field and is also used in everyday language. According to the dictionary 'desideratum' was borrowed from Latin. I assume a word is borrowed because there is a need for it. – S Conroy Jul 31 '18 at 22:05
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    I upticked you to take you out of negative territory: as to why the DV...no idea, or maybe they were equating desideratum with the AA thingie, without taking a peek at the link. [You might want to include the citation, as links decay over time.] – Cascabel Aug 1 '18 at 0:21
  • Well thanks for that. There's the awful ego thing about getting plus points, but there's also the bit where if it really is wrong, it's useful for me (and anyone who happens to be interested in the question) to know why. – S Conroy Aug 1 '18 at 0:26
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    Here is some advice that I offered another noob recently... " Don't let DVs get you down; we all receive them. A lot of people here will down vote an answer to a question that shows no research. Apart from that, if you provide a reasoned answer that includes citation and sources, and put it into context, and you still get DVs...brush it off as trollish behaviour." – Cascabel Aug 1 '18 at 0:34

He searched everywhere, but couldn't find his ideal t-shirt. Then one day at the flea market, he stumbled upon the holy grail of t-shirts! It was tie-dye -- size XXXL, just as he had dreamt.

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A word that works—although it requires a slight modification to your sentence—is suited:

1 a : to be becoming to • that dress suits you
b : to be proper for : befit • a mood that suits the occasion


He searched everywhere but couldn't find one that suited him.

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  • @ConfusedCat Was it just a coincidence that you edited your question to say, "hasn't found anything suitable yet," after I gave this answer? ;) – Jason Bassford Aug 1 '18 at 8:48

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