Looking for a word or phrase that refers to someone who is unaware of their state, as if they were dead or dreaming but not knowing it. Closest I've come is something like "walking dead"/"dead man walking" or "Dunning-Kruger" but ideally looking for a single word, less idiomatic. E.g., "His inability to execute his work made him into an impotent husk, a [person who is dead or dreaming but does not know it]." The intended use is more metaphorical than literal.

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    The state of being dead and not knowing it is limited to fiction, isn't it? Not sure there's much need for a word for that in the real world.
    – nnnnnn
    Nov 3, 2019 at 20:05
  • Bruce Willis, in the 6th Sense. He's a ghost who has not accepted his death. Watzisname, Patrick Swayze, in ghost. Find out what the name of spirits who are stuck in the world of living.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 3, 2019 at 20:20
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    Does a 'Zombie' suit your needs? From Cambridge Dictionary - "A person who has no energy, seems to act without thinking, and does not notice what is happening": "He's just a zombie sitting in front of the TV all day."
    – GoodJuJu
    Nov 3, 2019 at 21:00
  • I don't understand why the word dead itself doesn't apply. Surely, anybody who is dead will not be aware of it. (Barring metaphysical or religious discussion.) Nov 6, 2019 at 3:12
  • I think both words 'dead'and 'dreamy/ dreaming' don't have consciousness. Can it be 'unconscious'. But the problem is 'unconscious is not always dead, though dead is unconscious'. :)
    – Ram Pillai
    Nov 10, 2019 at 8:52

1 Answer 1


I think you can use the phrase he is as good as dead

As good as dead means he is unfit to do anything and he is almost equal to a dead person.

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