What would you call a person who would always response with 'I don't know' when thinking about their likes, favourite things, or their future (like plans for the next day or what they want their life to be like etc.)

I'm looking for a word describing a person who is and whose personality/ lifestyle is 'undefined'.

My candidate (not quite): the word impersonal

(Merriam-Webster): not existing as a person : not having human qualities or characteristics

(Dictionary.com) having no personality; devoid of human character or traits: an impersonal deity.

I'm not sure if it works here, as in a sentence

'*He never knows what he wants/ needs, he feels like he has nothing going on, he's ________ [like a clean slate]. (=He would describe himself as impersonal*)'

I'd want that adjective to describe someone's void/ emptiness =the lack of fundamental qualities that makes person a person (not the words for simply not being interesting or being lifeless like dull or lacklustre)

  • Please provide a sample sentence or two.
    – lbf
    Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 19:17
  • 5
    The fact that somebody says "I don't know," doesn't mean that they actually don't know. It could just mean they don't want to talk about it. Unless you know for certain what's going on in their head (and you can't if they don't talk about it) at best all you can say is that they are uncommunicative (with you, on that subject) and they are a mystery. Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 4:13
  • @JasonBassford it's a hypothetical question. I'm not really assuming here that someone is empty inside just because they don't want to talk about things with me. But imagine you deal with a person who doesn't know their own likes and dislikes, wants and needs =someone who doesn't know himself/ herself, and therefore he/she makes odd and meaningless life decisions; someone 'undefined'.
    – Aduku
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 10:46
  • @Aduku What you just said in your comment is very different from what you said in the question. In the question, you don't say that they don't actually know. You say that they respond to your question with "I don't know." You only describe behaviour. If you want a precise answer, you need to edit your question to clarify. (In fact, mentioning that they reply, "I don't know." is misleading. Simply state that they don't know: "What do you call someone who doesn't know . . .?") Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 14:30
  • 1
    My first thought was “indecisive”, but you seem to be shooting higher than that.  Maybe “apathetic”?  Your description sounds a little like some mental disorders; primarily depression.  Please  edit your question to clarify what you want. Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 3:57

6 Answers 6


I've seen rudderless used in this context.

'He doesn't know what he wants/needs, he has nothing going on; he's rudderless.'



1.1 Lacking a clear sense of one's aims or principles.

‘But doesn't all this leave us dangerously rudderless, drifting on relativistic seas?’

‘Entering their thirties, the men are stuck in adolescence, rudderless, jobless, and harboring dreams of escaping their small town - dreams they never act on.’

‘A bit rudderless and uncertain about his future prospects, Saleem falls under the influence of fundamentalist agitators, who operate under the patronage of the local landlord.’



lacking any clear aim, purpose, or direction


As suggested in comment by Dan Bron : aimless.

Lacking direction or aim; purposeless; desultory; (also) without the means of taking aim


Albert Einstein’s best ideas came when he was aimless. Yours can too


  • 1
    Also 'directionless' Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 21:21
  • Thanks for your suggestion, but I wouldn't want that word to have negative connotations
    – Aduku
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 19:37
  • Actually, revisiting the question now, I like the word you suggested best. Thanks
    – Aduku
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 12:00
  • @Aduku Thank you. Feel free to accept the answer and reward me with fifteen points :)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 12:18

Indecisive, as in:

  • prone to or characterized by indecision
  • not clearly defined, indefinite

Someone as you described may also just be confused or ambivalent. The words you suggested - aimless and directionless are quite judgmental. It is possible they are still figuring things out and may not be passionate about one particular way of life.


You could call that person a cypher:

  1. a person or thing of no value or importance; nonentity.

From TFD Online


I know this is an old question, but I have a word that hasn't been suggested yet: undecided.

undecided adjective  
Definition of undecided
1: not having made a decision
undecided voters
… jurors announced they had reached verdicts on some counts, but remained undecided on some of the most serious charges.
— David A. Kaplan
2: not having an answer or result : not yet determined or settled
an undecided question/issue


It gives an example in the definition, but to use the OP's example:

He never knows what he wants/ needs, he feels like he has nothing going on, he's undecided.

You could even extend the sentence to include if something is specifically being talked about, or use the last bit to create a new sentence:
- He's undecided on what college to attend.
- He's undecided about where he wants to go for lunch.
- He's still undecided about what shirt to wear to work today.
- He's typically undecided and can't figure out which job offer to accept.

I would call the OP undecided on which of these Answers to accept, since it's been 1 year and 4 months since this Question was asked and there still isn't a green check mark on any of the suggestions. :-)

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