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I'm looking for a possibly derogatory noun that describes a person who changed their view from what they believed before. It could also be used to describe a person who expresses different views to different people when asked about the same issue.

For instance: Ben always says that landing on the moon was real, but when talking to Melissa, he suddenly says that it was faked. He's such a ______.

I've tried googling this word, but "fickle" is the only one I can find. "Double standards" does describe the view, but I vividly remember there being a noun to describe a person like this.

I saw a Tumblr post related to this a while ago as well. It said something along the lines of "Changing your mind doesn't make you a ______, it means you've grown." I'm fairly certain the word ended in -ist as well, but those are all the details I can recall.

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  • Can you explain why "fickle" doesn't work for you? – fev Dec 16 '20 at 9:54
  • "fickle" describes a person who frequently changes their mind. To me, this means telling the same person two different things, whereas the word I'm looking for describes telling one person the same thing, but a different person another thing. @fev – Chippy Dec 16 '20 at 10:01
  • I am thinking of "two-faced", but will keep looking. – fev Dec 16 '20 at 10:03
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    The problem is that we don't know the cause of this inconsistency: is it mental aberration, is it due to external factors? Unless we know we can only say "apparently ____". – LPH Dec 16 '20 at 10:12
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    What's wrong with "human"? – Hot Licks Dec 16 '20 at 18:58

11 Answers 11

7

You might be looking for

Hypocrite:

A person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. (merriam-webster)

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  • This doesn't imply the change from a former view to a new one, just to obtain an advantage. – fev Dec 16 '20 at 20:03
  • @fev I disagree, self-contradiction is at the very heart of hypocrisy - it requires that you speak or act in opposition to a previously stated belief. It is not possible for a person with unchanging beliefs and consistent actions to be a hypocrite. Agreeing with someone's position in order to gain an advantage isn't hypocrisy unless you've previously made statements against that position. – Nuclear Hoagie Dec 16 '20 at 20:13
  • I think the emphasis in a hypocrite is that he will say the opposite of what he believes at the time when he says it, not necessarily that he changes his beliefs. Even if a person does not change their beliefs but have always behaved in contradiction to them on the outside, that person is still a hypocrite. – fev Dec 16 '20 at 20:19
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flip-flopper
a person, especially a politician, who suddenly changes his or her opinion or policy.

https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/flip-flopper

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Phony seems like it might fit your example sentence, specifically the "insincere" element.

Phony:

an insincere, pretentious, or deceitful person

That gives more of the impression that they are saying what they think the other person wants to hear, rather than actually changing their mind.

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  • Phony, faker, fraud, pretender, etc all came to mind for me. – barbecue Dec 16 '20 at 23:52
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Maybe opportunist is the word you are looking for:

a person who takes advantage of opportunities as and when they arise, regardless of planning or principle.

An opportunist (Collins) will behave differently in different situations, and takes advantage of any situation in order to gain money or power, without considering whether his/her actions are right or wrong. Another dictionary (Wordhippo) defines it as

Someone who conveniently changes opinions, typically for personal gain.

If you check the last link, you will find many synonyms of it, so if "opportunist" is not the one, maybe you will spot the word you need.

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  • This can work, but it's a bit broad for the question. Opportunists may take advantage of situations in ways that don't involve changing their opinions, so this might be misinterpreted. – barbecue Dec 16 '20 at 23:51
  • Please note that citations must include the name of the quoted work in plain text. Burying the name in just a link is insufficient (as the link may disappear in certain circumstances). – Andrew Leach Dec 17 '20 at 8:40
  • @AndrewLeach: Thank you. I didn't know. Have edited. – fev Dec 17 '20 at 8:45
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"Chameleon" would be a suitable option as it is used to imply frequent change in behavior / beliefs. From the Cambridge dictionary -

A chameleon is also a person who changes his or her opinions or behavior to please others: Opponents called him a political chameleon for shifting his position on a range of issues.

A stronger word could be "turncoat" -

a person who changes from one opinion to an opposite one in a way that shows they are not loyal to people who share the original opinion

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He has been converted. He is now a convert.

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Possibly apostate.

An apostate is one who has abandoned former beliefs. Often it means a former religious believer, but it could apply to a political movement or a scientific theory or a philosophical proposition.

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Another one that might work is:

Mercenary

Generally refers to someone who claims to hold the opinion of whoever is paying them the most at any given moment. E.g. "He used to think such-and-such, but since he started taking money from the so-and-so lobby, he's completely changed his tune. Such a mercenary."

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A generic example is impostor, which generally focuses on a subject pretending to be someone other than themselves, and the consequent deception of others, for fraudulent gain.

For some more context-specific examples, within a political context the word charlatan is frequently used to (negatively) describe someone who uses confidence tricks, or other forms of deception, usually in an attempt for personal gain, political opportunism, or other advantages.

Another example, the word shyster may be used to describe someone in the legal profession (often a lawyer), or in politics as one who uses fraudulent, misleading, and/or unethical practices.

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I do not concur with semantically demeaning adjectives as answered by others here; "hypocrite", "shyster", "impostor" and every word which qualifies the subject as someone the last company anyone would have, does not fit in grammatical but also without (even) logical basis it does not constitute a proper way to say. Your construction is same as:

"He did changed his opinion about this so fast."

It's not right at all:

..."Indeed, he is an impostor/hypocrite/waste of life".

Considering how complex this reality is, and, as a very old saying teaches -- Caesar non svpra est grammaticos --, not reasonable is give a grammatical answer lacking where we are; never above anything except our own feet I am, so as everyone.

Also this being a truism, versatile is more accurate in grammar aspects. Not a chameleon; in latin (or proto-latin, not sure) it stands for stellio.onis, another word in another language, but as chameleon, not the lowest of assumptions but a very low one.

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  • You say that the other answers are wrong but you don't say what the answer should be. – KillingTime Dec 17 '20 at 7:41
  • "He did change.." – katalin_2003 Dec 17 '20 at 9:56
  • Pardon my syntax skills, "katalin". My "primary language" [sic] does not follow the clearly meridianical logic of English language in "any way, shape or form". We was (are) all very aware of such fact. Regarding which answer "should be", my opinion is: when it comes to linguistics (semantics, being more precise) the right answer needs to consider aspects of context. I just tried to help. – altnonlaedere Feb 4 at 19:17
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I can't pinpoint exactly the word you're looking for, but this one might suit your purpose—

yo-yo

https://www.lexico.com/definition/yo-yo

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  • Where does that quote come from? Please cite it (and preferably link as well). – Andrew Leach Dec 17 '20 at 8:39
  • Done, @Andrew Leach. – user405662 Dec 17 '20 at 9:34

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