There are terms like:

  • survivor > survivorship
  • victim > victimhood

is there one for "loser"? and what is it?

I stumbled upon the word "defeatism" but I'm not sure if it is the same as "the state of being a loser" as per New Oxford American Dictionary, the definition is:

a person who expects or is excessively ready to accept failure.

Regarding the usage, I'm trying to write some self-help style posts and just like discussing how to "move from victimhood to survivorship" and etc, I would like to be able to communicate how to "move from loser/-xyz/-ship/-hood/-dom to self-actualizer" – presuming one day I discover/be gifted the/some adequate ideas!

As far as I understand, though in general usage the opposite of "to lose" is "to win" but when it comes to individuals who are falling short of what they could/should/aught to have been in their lives and aren't, I believe the adequate opposite is "self-actualizer". Because in order to be considered a "winner" there is always, at least a hypothetical, jury that decides, gives score and etc regarding a certain set of criteria which may or may not relate to the individual.

Or maybe there is a term that actually refers to the ultimate opposite end of "self-actualization" that I should use instead of "loser"?

For example, in Mary-Elaine Jacobsen's book the vocabulary of choice is "everyday genius" and "false self" but given that neither these two term have made it into wide usage, not even as so much as "self-actualization", I guess they are not the right choice.

  • PS. I'm putting this in comment cuz I didn't want to self-promote, but in my last attempt, I chose the terms "lost way-out" and "hope" in referring to these two opposite states: medium.com/lost-way-out-hope but I think "self-actualization" is more action oriented than "hope" and therefore more adequate for self-help style of writing. You can have a lot of hope but if you don't do anything about it, you'll be a "daydreamer" and not a success/winner/self-actualizer. So, that's why I'm making this request. Dec 9, 2019 at 14:28
  • I suppose the closest one can get to antonyms for victoriousness are failure / defeat (living in defeat). Dec 9, 2019 at 14:58
  • If one loses, one has been defeated. So the state of being defeated is 'defeat'. 'Defeatism' is the attitude that accepts defeat and does not try again for another attempt at success. 'Failure' is not necessarily competitive.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 9, 2019 at 15:03
  • Which sense of loser are you interested in? If by loser, you mean somebody who loses (that's not the only sense), then which of the 12 sense of loses are you interested in? It's not possible to come up with "the state of being a loser" unless you clearly define what you mean by that. Dec 11, 2019 at 5:09
  • the general public definition: urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Loser – also you can find it all over the web in the context of self-help style writings – as said in the request. For example: thoughtcatalog.com/sean-curtis/2015/03/… or medium.com/the-mission/…. Dec 11, 2019 at 12:34

2 Answers 2


From a comment under the question, it was made clear what specific sense of loser is being looked for here.

In short, it's not asking for the simple state of consistently failing to win (which might be considered unluck or adversity), but rather the state of being actively unable to be effective at anything, or not having the required skill or attitude.

In that sense, being a loser is about incompetency:

: the state or fact of being incompetent

2 : inadequate to or unsuitable for a particular purpose
3 a : lacking the qualities needed for effective action
3 b : unable to function properly
// incompetent heart valves

// the incompetency of the secretary was revealed only after she had left the company, and her successor discovered years of filing left undone

// Meanwhile, six Castle Hills residents filed their own lawsuit this week calling for removal of the two women from office, alleging incompetency and official misconduct, under the Texas Local Government Code.
— Scott Huddleston, ExpressNews.com, "Castle Hills councilwoman’s seat in limbo as politics continues to roil San Antonio suburb," 9 Aug. 2019

// Because of his incompetence, we won't make our deadline.
// He is too incompetent to be trusted with such an important responsibility.

For somebody who is a loser by attitude or lack of skill, they can only start to become a success by switching from incompetency to competency.

  • Thanks. It's unusual that I could never make the connection between the two notion but after enough deliberation and so, I think your suggestion is totally to the point. Dec 25, 2019 at 21:25

I would lean towards your idea of seeking the proper antonym for self-actualization rather than focusing on the word loser.

The first opposites that come to mind are: self-destruction and self-sabotage.

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