My native tongue is Hebrew, and we have a word that I just don't know how to effectively translate to English. My American-Israeli friends tell me that they just say it in Hebrew because they can't find a good substitute in English.

That word is מסגרת. Literally, it means "frame", which could be a picture frame, or framework.

It also has a figurative meaning, which is the one I'm interested in. I'll try to describe it. It means things like school, work, military. Any kind of environment you're in that has a routine, responsibilities, people you work with, and usually a boss or some kind of authority figure.

I wanted to say "I'm not a מסגרת person", meaning I'm not the kind of person who gets along in a routine with a rigid routine, responsibilities, etc. Whether it's school, work, etc. Can you figure out how to say it succinctly in English?

  • 1
    Why not use "rigid" as you did in the question? Aug 24, 2021 at 15:43
  • "Framework", perhaps?
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 24, 2021 at 15:49
  • "Rigid" is an adjective that's gonna require lots more words around it to understand the context, right?
    – Ram Rachum
    Aug 24, 2021 at 15:56
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    "I'm not a nine-to-five person."
    – Greybeard
    Aug 24, 2021 at 16:10
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    There don't seem to be obviously suitable adjectives that you can apply to yourself with that meaning, but the highly structured lifestyle associated with school/military etc could itself be described as "regimented". Maybe you could say "I'm not a very [self-] disciplined person", but that has a tone that can suggest it as a weakness, rather than just a difference in personality style. Aug 25, 2021 at 7:57

4 Answers 4


I'm not a structured person/guy.

It's succinct and I think it has a nice parallel with the Hebrew word for frame used figuratively.

structured (adj.)

following a set method, arrangement, or pattern m-w

Having and manifesting a clearly defined structure or organization Collins

If you're happiest when your day is planned out, with lists of things to do, and a tightly-packed schedule, then you like living a structured life. When something is structured, it's arranged according to a specific plan. vocabulary.com

Sometimes I can't believe I have become such a structured guy, given my island heritage and my tendency to want to relax without a lot of demands. ref.

Structured — non-structured. Structured individuals are precise and formal. They tend to be self-controlled and don't like ambiguity or lack of organization. Non-structured people are informal and casual, tend to be tolerant of others and have a relaxed manner. ref.

The methodological abilities are the required skills to organize and enhance a personal work. A structured person follows specific order to carry out activities in the short and long term. ref.

My attitude toward cooking could well be the reason why I did not stay long at all in that restaurant job. I tried to follow the rules, but to be honest, I found it boring most of the time ... Although I consider myself a structured person to some extent, I tend to like freedom, variety and creativity. ref.

  • To me "structured person" sounds like someone who's good at creating a structure of their own and sticking to it, rather than someone who thrives in an externally-imposed structure. In my experience the second type of person often likes the external structure because they're relatively unstructured themselves. Aug 25, 2021 at 18:04
  • Might it not be one, the other, or a bit of both? If you like structure/the structured life, you could choose/thrive in the military. When you get out, you impose/create structure for your days in retirement. In the examples above, (1) could be either or both, we don't know if the structure was a choice or the result of circumstance; (4) (semi-structured?) seems to refer to someone's nature.
    – DjinTonic
    Aug 25, 2021 at 18:34

An English phrase for someone who likes routine is a creature of habit, so you could say that you’re not a creature of habit.

This has the merit of not suggesting anything negative—or positive—about how you actually live your life.

This NGram link offers a variety of quotations about “creature of habit,” most finding it undesirable to be so.

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    A creature of habit does things habitually for "internal" reasons - choice, psychology etc. I think the OP is after a word or phrase which refers to a dislike of external constraints.
    – Nemo
    Aug 25, 2021 at 8:16

This idiom isn’t terribly succinct, but it does suggest the sense of a frame — a boundary:

color inside the lines

To think or act in accordance with set rules. Likened to the way a child is encouraged to neatly color within the lines of a coloring book.

That poor girl is so rigid. I think she’s only capable of following rules and coloring inside the lines.

Source: The Free Dictionary — color inside the lines

Conversely, we have:

color outside the lines

To think or act in a way that does not conform to set rules. Likened to the way a child might color outside the lines of a coloring book.

My coworkers don’t always understand my ideas, especially since I like to color outside the lines.

Source: The Free Dictionary — color outside the lines


I’m not a color-inside-the-lines person. I like to color outside the lines.


If I understand the question correctly, you could start off by saying something like "I am a free spirit." and then add something like. I won't be pigeon-holed. I would hate to be tied down by..." and then you would give some examples of such ties which you would hate - e.g.

"I would hate to have a nine to five job, a wife and children, and a mortgage."

  • I'd say pigeon-holed may be as close as it gets. Aug 24, 2021 at 16:30
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    I think pigeon-holed refers to classification - e.g. "I won't be pigeon-holed as an East Coast Liberal" not specifically (or mainly) to actual restrictions so I feel it is necessary to go further and give examples to get the full idea across.
    – Nemo
    Aug 24, 2021 at 17:16
  • Cambridge Dictionary gives an example showing the broadened association usually accompanying when a person is pigeonholed: << put somebody ... in a pigeonhole My boss put me in a pigeonhole, so I was never considered for work in other departments. >> 'I'm not a person who relishes being pigeon-holed.' And R H K Webster's goes beyond mere classification: << pigeonhole ... [vt]: 3. to assign to a definite place in an orderly system. >> Aug 25, 2021 at 17:55
  • I can see that the "to assign to a definite place in an orderly system" definition would do it but the references you give also give several examples where there is an implication of unfairness. Nobody likes unfairness. But the OP is referring to a structure which may be objectively perfectly fair but which doesn't suit him because of his particular character trait so I feel that "pigeon-hole" without further qualification would not give quite the flavour he is looking for.
    – Nemo
    Aug 25, 2021 at 18:17

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