Is there a single word describing someone who is like a frog in a well? The frog believes the well is the entire world. How can I describe people who think that their own small environment is the entire world?

  • Are you looking for something negative, or more neutral?
    – yoozer8
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 18:44
  • 1
    There is also a Sanskrit word which could be transliterated as koop-mundook (literally, frog in a well) for which Ankit could be seeking an English equivalent. Since Sanskrit and Latin are in the Indo-European group of languages, is there something similar in Latin that could have descended into English? Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 23:13
  • @DilipSarwate Or, since English is a Germanic language, is there something similar in Proto-Germanic that could have descended into English?
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 2:18
  • I have no suggestion on my own but I do not like most of the existing suggestions. The frog in the well is not aware that there is a world outside the well. "Parochial," for example, is about knowing that there is a world outside but not being interested. "Blinkered" is perhaps the best except that being blinkered is the result of someone else's actions.
    – user15964
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 17:05
  • This reminds me of Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
    – David Cary
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 18:04

11 Answers 11


Synonyms of parochial, "characterized by an unsophisticated focus on local concerns to the exclusion of wider contexts", may serve. Such synonyms include confined, insular, limited, local, narrow, narrow-minded, petty, provincial, regional, small-minded, isolated.

Insular, for example, has a sense that means "separate or isolated from the surroundings; having little interaction with external parties; provincial." Narrow-minded and small-minded are of course easily understood, and so would be close-minded.

Blinkered, fitted with blinkers, or "eye shields attached to a hood for horses, to prevent them from seeing backwards and partially sideways", is another possibility, as are formations from synonyms blinders and winkers.

Edit: Also consider monomania, "excessive interest or concentration on a singular object or subject" or "a pathological obsession with one person, thing or idea"; obsession, "compulsive or irrational preoccupation; an unhealthy fixation"; idée fixe;
tunnel vision, "an extremely narrow point of view; narrow-mindedness"; and locked-in.

  • 5
    'provincial' and 'narrow-minded' are my choices from your list.
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 19:26
  • 1
    This an excellent answer! Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 11:44

I would add myopic to @jwpat7's excellent list.

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    +1 for myopic, the nearsightedness is much more descriptive of the predicament.
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 3:22

One term you could use is isolationist, although isolationism is used mostly to describe countries who do not interact internationally and focus on themselves. It might be understood when used to describe people, however.


Depending on how far you want to take your analogy, you could label the frog a solipsist.

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    I was thinking the same thing, though arguably, if there were more than 1 frog in that well, he'd have a harder time maintaining the viewpoint that he were the centre of his universe...
    – Tom Auger
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 22:22

I believe "provincial" is the best match for what you are asking for, but only if you want a pejorative term. Although, I find it hard to imagine making this observation about someone and it not being intended pejoratively.


I was thinking more navel-gazing...except that frogs don't have navels to my knowledge.


I would go for "self-centered and lacking in situational context".

A more colloquial term would be that the person is "wearing blinders", which comes from horses wearing blinders to prevent them from seeing things that could potentially startle or alarm them.

Another term would be that the person "has buried their head in the sand" which refers to the (false) legend that ostriches bury their heads in the sand to avoid danger.


Five years and no one has suggested cloistered.

  1. dwelling or raised in, or as if in, cloisters; solitary.
  2. isolated, protected, hidden away for the sake of maintaining innocence
  3. naive, lacking in worldliness

A cloister is a place of religious seclusion, like some convents and monasteries.


Two words, not one: ivory tower

  1. a state of privileged seclusion or separation from the facts and practicalities of the real world
  2. To ​live or be in an ​ivory ​tower is not to ​know about or to ​want to ​avoid the ​ordinary and ​unpleasant things that ​happen in people's ​lives:

  3. a place or situation where you are separated from the difficulties of ordinary life and so are unable to understand them, used especially to describe a college or university:

  4. an attitude of aloofness from or disdain or disregard for worldly or practical affairs.

Citations taken from "ivory tower definition"



I would call him Introvert and blinder as well.


Consider small-town and shortsighted.

small-town: limited in outlook or experience; unsophisticated; provincial.

shortsighted: lacking foresight or scope.

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