I am trying to find a noun that describes a person that enables others to be more productive. The opposite of that is a roadblock or barrier.

My first thought was a sail, since the addition of another sail in the correct place allows a ship to reach its destination faster. But this strikes as too obscure.

Is there a shared metaphor/simile that would capture this idea and satisfies these conditions

  • noun that can be applied to a person (Bill is a ... )
  • not obscure
  • helps others achieve their goals better (rather than his own goals)
  • Though still obscure a Jib is the last sail you add to the smaller sail boats. I'm not the expert but I think it makes a great difference if the others are completely full. Might not be bad to say "Bill is our Jib."
    – Elliot
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 4:15

2 Answers 2


More literal

As opposed to a hindrance:

: someone or something that facilitates something
especially : someone who helps to bring about an outcome (such as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision
// the workshop's facilitator kept discussion flowing smoothly

More metaphorical

As opposed to a roadblock:

: a way that allows passage

Depending on the required nuance, gateway could also be used.


Off the top of my head,I can think of these three:

"leg up", "driving force", and "actuator"

  • I like "leg up," but it is not a noun. Driving force suggests that the direction comes from a the person I want to describe, rather from the person being helped. Actuator is too obscure.
    – dimitriy
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 1:12
  • Check Merriam-Webster for "leg up". It's a noun.
    – user392935
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 1:14
  • You are absolutely correct. But can I say Stockfish is a leg up?
    – dimitriy
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 1:16
  • I couldn't follow what you had to say about "driving force". Looks good to me.
    – user392935
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 1:16
  • Someone provides "leg up", I suppose. Perhaps then, try "Impetus".
    – user392935
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 1:17

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