I'm looking for a word or words to describe a person who dislikes incompetence (when someone can't do a job successfully), or those they deem ineffective in their work. It would also especially irk them if the person won't admit that they are incompetent/ineffective.

  • 8
    Is there anyone who likes incompetence in others? Aug 26, 2021 at 23:51

4 Answers 4


He does not suffer fools gladly.

not suffer fools gladly PHRASE
Be impatient or intolerant toward people one regards as foolish or unintelligent.
‘he was a perfectionist who didn't suffer fools gladly’
Origin With biblical allusion to 2 Cor. 11:19.

  • Very common in the UK - captures the idea exactly. I don't know about the US.
    – Nemo
    Aug 27, 2021 at 12:42
  • 2
    Also very common in the US.
    – GEdgar
    Aug 27, 2021 at 14:57
  • 1
    My personal attitude puts a full stop after fools. Aug 27, 2021 at 16:16

no-nonsense (adj.) (also take no nonsense)

That does not tolerate foolish or extravagant conduct; brisk, practical, businesslike. OED
His employees are..slavish devotees of their master's no-nonsense work ethic

Tolerating no nonsense : SERIOUS, BUSINESSLIKE
a no-nonsense manager

nonsense affected or impudent conduct
took no nonsense from subordinates m-w

Not tolerating irrelevancies; direct, efficient, and practical
the no-nonsense tones of a stern parent. AHD

Beyond this, although No Child Left Behind conveys the impression that it contains a no-nonsense approach to incompetence in education leadership, in reality, because of the tenure system, principals and staff who are fired will probably just transfer to other school districts. W. H. Jeynes; American Educational History .

...the newspaperman turned management expert was the tough-as-nails, no-nonsense businessman. R. Parker; "State of the Industry"

He called them the "Cheetah Generation"—Africa's new hope.

"They do no relate to the old colonialist paradigm...They brook no nonsense about corruption, inefficiency, incompetence, or buffoonery." A. J. Thakkar; The Lion Awakes: Adventures in Africa's Economic Miracle

"...take no nonsense from any presumptuous hireling..." ref.

It's been used in quite a few book titles. Among the work-related are:

R. S. Sloma; No-Nonsense Management: A General Manager's Primer

B. Allan; The No-Nonsense Guide to Project Management

T. Gegax and P. Bolsta; By the Seat of Your Pants: The No-Nonsense Business Management Guide

  • I think nonsense in this context may encompass deliberate behaviour whereas incompetence is not deliberate.
    – Nemo
    Aug 27, 2021 at 13:17
  • It certainly would include putting feet on the desk and throwing spitballs; however, some of the examples specifically refer to inefficiency and incompetence. And I believe these fall within the use in the book titles, which aren't just about getting employees to behave nicely.
    – DjinTonic
    Aug 27, 2021 at 13:22
  • I can see that there is an overlap between the two idioms
    – Nemo
    Aug 27, 2021 at 13:24

"A stickler" or "a stickler for detail" is commonly used for someone who really wants to see things done precisely and accurately.


meritocratic (MWD)

a system, organization, or society in which people are chosen and moved into positions of success, power, and influence on the basis of their demonstrated abilities and merit

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