What would we call a person who has a hard time throwing away unnecessary things, and, as a result, has a home cluttered with stuff?

This person is not just untidy. What causes the clutter is their urge to buy things they don't need and being unable to get rid of things they don't use.

I think there is an idiom for it. But a single noun or an adjective would do too.

Thank you!

  • 6
    I am going to say careful of your audience, several people have said pack rat, as somebody from the UK I have never heard that phrase.
    – WendyG
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 8:42
  • 1
    Packrat and hoarder suggest being unwilling / unable to throw things away ... but it doesn't necessarily mean that they're buying things they don't need.
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:07
  • 2
    The problem is that you've got two distinct behaviors here. Someone who buys a lot of unnecessary stuff might be a compulsive shopper en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_buying_disorder (or depending on one's POV, an ordinary member of western consumerist society :-)), but that person might not have any real urge to keep stuff around - thrift stores depend on them. Another person might keep around potentially useful (in their opinion), ranging a gamut from thrifty to hoarder.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 17:52
  • @WendyG You might want to check out Winnie the Pooh. :)
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 12:47
  • 1
    @WendyG My mistake. It's from the new adventures series, not Milne's original series.
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 15:25

3 Answers 3


The common term for this sort hoarder, one who hoards. Per the Oxford Dictionaries:




  1. Accumulate (money or valued objects) and hide or store away.

    ‘thousands of antiques hoarded by a compulsive collector’

Note that this often has a rather negative connotation. There was a rather frightening TV show called Hoarders about such people.

There is also pack rat which is slightly less negative:

pack rat


  1. another term for woodrat

  2. North American derogatory A person who hoards things.

Note: no matter what my wife tells you, neither of these terms apply to me. 8^)

  • 5
    You mention 'pack rat' as less negative, yet the definition is 'derogatory'. To me that implies a pretty heavy negative connotation. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 2:28
  • 3
    As a side note, a person who downloads stuff off the Internet and never deletes it from their computer even when they don't need it anymore could be called a digital hoarder: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_hoarding Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 3:09
  • 6
    I don't think "pack rat" connotes carrying (Southern AmEng). I would use it for someone who has a lot of stuff that serves no other use than to decorate their "nest". Basically the same as "hoarder", but more neutral. Speculatively, the slight variation in meaning may occur because pack rats (woodrats) are native to North America; perhaps English speakers elsewhere are more likely to make the "backpack" connection and less likely to make an analogy to the animal's habits.
    – trent
    Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 14:28
  • 14
    Throwing my +1 in to the idea that pack-rat has a less negative connotation than hoarder. When I hear pack-rat, I imagine a house with a bunch of useless knick-knacks. When I hear hoarder, I think about a room piled high full of pizza boxes and bags of McDonalds trash and soda cans everywhere; where there's no room to even walk in most of their house because they never throw anything away, not even actual trash. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 15:44
  • 6
    Speaking for the west coast of the US, a pack rat is some one who just hangs on to some stuff, probably thinking they'll use it in the future, while a hoarder is someone who has a real problem. Pack rat is mildly negative; hoarder is significantly so. Commented Aug 21, 2018 at 16:40
  • Compulsive hoarder (the mental health diagnosis)
  • Hoarder
  • Packrat
  • Clutterer
  • Messy (the adjective used as a noun, plural "messies", I think originating from Sandra Felton's Messies Manual, but I could be wrong.)

I'd say that this list approximately follows the spectrum from most to least extreme. The "messy" may even have a relative normal amount of stuff and just be unable to keep it in order. The compulsive hoarder may hoard multiple homes and end up living in their car. Not all hoarders have an issue with acquisition; pretty much all hoarders have an issue with disposal.

The list also happens to approximately follow the spectrum from least to most commonly known--I suspect that only members of messy support groups use "messy" as a noun describing a person.

There's also "magpie", with the implication that the person flits around and collects shiny things. I wouldn't consider this a synonym of any of the others, but it is a related concept.


A name for one specific sort of pathological "stuff-collecting" is (since 1975):

Diogenes syndrome, also known as senile squalor syndrome, is a disorder characterized by extreme self-neglect, domestic squalor, social withdrawal, apathy, compulsive hoarding of garbage or animals, plus lack of shame. Sufferers may also display symptoms of catatonia.

The condition was first recognized in 1966[3] and designated Diogenes syndrome by Clark et al.[4] The name derives from Diogenes of Sinope, an ancient Greek philosopher, a Cynic and an ultimate minimalist, who allegedly lived in a large jar in Athens. --https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes_syndrome

The eponym is a bit tongue-in-cheek: Diogenes of Sinope was an ascetic, and adopted the decision to carry nothing with him that he did not need.

Here is an example of his minimalism (emphasis added):

The stories told of Diogenes illustrate the logical consistency of his character. He inured himself to the weather by living in a clay wine jar[4][20] belonging to the temple of Cybele.[21] He destroyed the single wooden bowl he possessed on seeing a peasant boy drink from the hollow of his hands. He then exclaimed: "Fool that I am, to have been carrying superfluous baggage all this time!" --https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes

People with the syndrome may have millions of things that they actually can't ever need, but usually rationalize their collection "because I need it", or perhaps "because I will need it someday", thus saying the same thing about their hoards as what Diogenes said about his non-accumulation of anything. The humor is fitting, though: Diogenes was a cynic.

Another name for Diogenes Syndrome, syllogomania, is mentioned by Elizabeth Andersen et al. in a case study at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/255950905_Do_they_think_I_am_a_pack_rat. In this same paper, the person who hoards is called a "hoarder", as stated in a previous answer. The opening paragraphs express the pathological nature of the condition referred to in your question (emphasis added):

Hoarding is a debilitating disorder characterized by the acquisition of a large volume of possessions that seem useless or of little value to others (Frost & Gross, 1993; Stein, Seedat, & Potocnik, 1999; teketee, Frost, & Kim, 2001). The compulsion to acquire items can become sufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in activities of daily living, social activities, and relationships with others. Broad acquisition of free things is often accompanied by compulsive buying (Frost et al., 1998).


Hoarding of rubbish (syllogomania) is a symptom of a much broader syndrome of senile self-neglect or squalor (lack of personal cleanliness and hygiene, domestic squalor, hoarding, rejecting society, resisting offers of help, and lack of shame). Initially labeled as “Senile Breakdown” (MacMillan & Shaw, 1966, p. 1037), the syndrome was relabeled as “Diogenes Syndrome” (Clark, Mankikar, and Gray, 1975, p. 366) after the Greek philosopher Diogenes, who pursued self-sufficiency, rejected luxury and domestic comfort, and freed himself from material possessions. (...) Their living spaces are usually taken up with stored garbage, urine and feces in buckets or in packages, and masses of hoarded material, which is the antithesis of Diogenes’s freedom from material possessions.

"Syllogomania" is also mentioned in A Dictionary of Neurological Signs by A. J. Larner (here).

In keeping with other "-manias", then, the hoarder could be called a syllogomaniac, but at the time (2020) a quick Google search shows that word only in a twitter hashtag: https://twitter.com/hashtag/syllogomaniac.

Another label option is disposophobe or disposophobic whose condition is called "disposophobia" at https://www.fearof.net/fear-of-getting-rid-of-stuff-phobia-disposophobia/.

An unverified example at https://glosbe.com/en/en/disposophobic includes:

A disposophobic has a delusional regard for the value of the things he hoards.

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