Webster defines egotistical : characterized by egotism : having, showing, or arising from an exaggerated sense of self-importance. And other dictionaries add conceit and self-centered.

Webster defines ego: the self especially as contrasted with another self or the world, and it's use associated with self esteem or self care.

What word in this family includes a healthy amount of ego, that is not exaggerated? We all need to value self, and sometimes above others, but when it harms others unnecessarily, it become excessive on one extreme, or not enough on the other extreme.

I'm looking for a term that's on the ego spectrum from narcissistic (self consumed) to arrogant (puffed-up) to [the term I'm looking for] to self-negligent (lacking self-care) to co-dependent (consumed by the well being of others). Here's how I would use it in sentences:

His behavior was recognized as egotistical, but in fact was quite xxxxxxx.

We all need to be more xxxxxxx and less egotistical or oblivious to our own wellbeing.

His xxxxxxx behaviour was exactly what he needed for his own well being.

  • 5
    How about "self-assured"?
    – Casey
    Oct 14, 2021 at 18:59
  • 1
    @Mitch - thanks for your comment - please see the edit to my question with "spectrum." So I'm not looking for the synonym or antonym, I'm looking for the word that represents the the middle of the spectrum, which includes a healthy or constructive dose of ego...not too little or not too much. Oct 15, 2021 at 0:27
  • 1
    So you want an adjective that means "has healthy self-esteem"?
    – nnnnnn
    Oct 15, 2021 at 0:28
  • 1
    What do you mean by “one ask” and “second ask”? Do you mean “first/second question” or perhaps the two ends of a spectrum?
    – Lawrence
    Oct 15, 2021 at 3:21
  • 1
    Thanks for responding. Consider calling them “one extreme” and “other extreme” instead of “one/two ask”.
    – Lawrence
    Oct 21, 2021 at 5:10

4 Answers 4


(I've slightly reworded your first sentence.)

His behavior was recognized as egotistical, but in fact it was just healthy self-confidence.

We all need to be more self-confident and less egotistical or oblivious to our own wellbeing.

His self-confident behaviour was exactly what he needed to learn for his own well being.

self-confidence (n.)

Confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities m-w

self-confident (adj.)

Having confidence in one's abilities, qualities, and judgement; characterized by self-confidence. OED

Studies show that a high level of self-confidence is related to high levels of overall well-being and happiness. It has also been connected to creativity, which is a quality that can enrich relationships in numerous ways. S. Degges-White and C. Borzumato-Gainey; Friends Forever (2011)

You should be cautioned, however, to learn the difference between Self-confidence, which is based upon sound knowledge of what you know and what you can do, and egotism, which is only based upon what you wish you knew or could do. ...

If you have Self-confidence those around you will discover this fact. Let them make the discovery. They will feel proud of their alterness in having made the discovery, and you will be free from the suspicion of egotism. Napoleon Hill; The Law of Success (1928)

Self-Confidence versus Egotism

We have all met the man who "knows it all." How offensive he is whenever and wherever met...But he is eternally an unmitigated and unanimous nuisance.

It might be supposed that the medical profession, from liberal education should be free and exempt from these social and business plagues. But it is not so. ...

...we are glad to claim for our people what many regard as a synonym, i.e., self-confidence. Tho seldom recognized, there is a vast difference between egotism and self-confidence. we admit their kinship, but deny their identity...

The egotist has done nothing, while the man of self-confidence is the life and hope of the profession. The Medical World, Vol. 18, p.81 (1900)

If egotism be synonymous with self-confidence, every successful man is an egotist, for he dares to attempt what hundreds have failed to accomplish, and ventures to compete with real ability and skill. Rev. A. T. Pierson; "Egotism versus Self-Knowledge", Our Monthly, Vol. 4, p.220 (1871)

  • I'm trying to stay away from interpretive words and trying to be more definitive. Confidence is in the eye of the beholder, and what might seem like justified confidence to one person might be unjustified to another. My focus is a word that belongs on a spectrum that has narcissism on one extreme (self-absorbed) and arrogant on the other extreme (considers themselves more knowledgeable than they are). My self-confidence can be arrogant and narcissistic. Oct 15, 2021 at 0:13
  • You're not going to get an objective term that doesn't depend on interpretation or judgment. Consider big-medium-small in sizes: what counts as medium depends on situation and opinion. Unless you have some sort of electronic device that measures self-opinion and plan to provide a reading from that.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 15, 2021 at 9:27
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    OP wants a word on the "ego spectrum". It appears from the sample sentences that others are doing the judging.
    – DjinTonic
    Oct 15, 2021 at 10:18

You might try "dignified".

(lexico) Having or showing a composed or serious manner that is worthy of respect.
‘she maintained a dignified silence’

However, here is more about this word.

(SOED) 2 invested with dignity; exalted.
3 Marked by dignity; having self respect without haughtiness; stately.

  • His behavior was recognized as egotistical, but in fact was quite dignified.

  • We all need to be more dignified and less egotistical or oblivious to our own wellbeing.

  • His dignified behaviour was exactly what he needed to learn for his own well being. (The phrasing is not ideal in this sentence; it should be reworked.)


His behavior was recognizes as egotistical, but in fact was quite normal.

You should realise that adjectives modify nouns and that nouns usually have a default neutral meaning. Someone's behaviour is assumed to be normal unless otherwise stated or remarked upon.

  • Was recognizes? Oct 14, 2021 at 21:02
  • interesting...so instead of trying to find a specific term, use a normative term, like less/more or reasonable/unreasonably, or justified/unjustified? Oct 15, 2021 at 0:08

I would think self-respectful could work in these contexts. Not being oblivious of one's well-being is about self-esteem.

M-W defines self-respectful as:

a proper respect for oneself as a human being

and gives self-regard (which I quite like, but fringes more on the egotist side) as a synonym of self-respect.

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