Is there a word or expression in English to describe someone who has the power/ability/skills to act upon something, but we already expect them not to do it because they see themselves as not in a position where they need to take an effort to act?

It doesn't necessarily refer to a person, could be a corporation as well (and quite possibly most uses of this word/expression would actually refer to companies I believe). It is somewhat related to an adage that says "the difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich is allowed to make blunders for a longer time." But this would be its reverse logic, in the lines of "since I am the rich, I will not make anything at all, why should I bother?"

Two examples of where this word/expression would fit:

The X App has a serious problem of user experience that could be greatly improved with a few simple features, but since they have virtually no competition, they [are] *** and we'll never see those things implemented.

Company Z should really step up their game, Franchise W has become stale for over a decade now, but since the fans keep coming, they [become] *** and just rehash the same thing over and over again.

"A is not compelled to do B" is an expression that might come to mind, but I'm not sure if it could convey what I am trying to present here.

  • 1
    In your first example, unmotivated seems to fit. Is that the sort of thing you're looking for?
    – Jim Mack
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 20:04
  • 3
    Complacent might fit the second example, but I don't really see the two examples as particularly similar.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 20:12
  • @JimMack I'm not sure, doesn't unmotivated convey some sense of "disappointment" with oneself? If so, then the cases of the actors in the phrases would actually point out to the contrary. Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 20:16
  • @AndrewLeach I have updated the first example, perhaps now they have a bit more in common? Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 20:18

2 Answers 2


The following idiomatic expression can be used to convey the idea you want to express:

rest on your laurels

to be satisfied with your achievements an not to make an effort to do anything else.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

  • The X App has a serious problem of user experience that could be greatly improved with a few simple features, but they are resting on their laurels and we'll never see those things implemented.
  • 1
    I like this one! The "laurels" go back to the sense of "victory", which is what App X and Company Z have achieved in the end (through a virtual monopoly and a faithful fanbase, respectively). Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 20:23

The situation you describe of some people (or companies) being neglectful or lazy, and not caring to act because their (perceived) dominance may come from a bias known as the overconfidence_effect

The dictionary has many terms for not acting. I like Indolence, with its adjective

indulging in ease; avoiding labor and exertion; habitually idle; lazy; inactive.

This is the same to say to someone that is neglectful or careless

So, one way to refer their lack of action caused for some perceived comfort is to say that they are behaving like

overconfident careless people

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