I need one word(or two) for somebody who has a problem. Any problem. For example, when the person to whom an address belongs (in a letter) is called an addressee(not entirely correct) So in similar terms, what's the person with a problem called?

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    I don't think there is one. You'll probably just have to go with person with a problem or whatever fits in the context. On a tangent, why do you say addressee isn't entirely correct? – Daniel Mar 19 '12 at 13:00
  • @daniel: I think he means that the person to whom the letter is addressed is properly the addressee, while the word is sometimes used for the owner of the address (whom I'd call the occupier) – Tim Lymington Mar 19 '12 at 13:10
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    You could just call him anybody - Everybody's got problems – FumbleFingers Mar 19 '12 at 14:40
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    A 'problem' with quote marks is usually euphemistic, so I'm going to go with alcoholic. – Optimal Cynic Mar 19 '12 at 14:43
  • @Danielδ tim is right there. The adressee is the person who the letter or complaint is addressed to, it doesn't mean the owner of an address. Although, in most communication, they happen to be the same – SoWhat Mar 19 '12 at 17:11

As others have noted, I don't think there's a single word that covers all cases. It depends on the type of problem.

Often you use a word that describes the person's relationship to you regardless of the fact that they have a problem. Like if it's a customer complaining about bad service or defective products, you generally just call them the "customer". If it's a user of a computer system they are "the user". Etc.

If the problem has reached the point where the person is bringing a lawsuit, they are "the plaintiff".

If it's a medical problem: "patient". Occassionally, "the afflicted".

If the person is making a complaint, you can call them the "complainant", but I think that's pretty rare.

If the problem is caused by someone else and you want to place blame, you can say "the victim". That isn't necessarily limited to a crime, like you can say "the victim in the automobile accident".

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The term for 'person with a problem' is probably person, though you might try sufferer. I imagine, however, you want to cut it down; for example, a person who has asked you to solve the problem might be the applicant, questioner or (technically correct though little used) querent.

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  • An inquirer or enquirer may be added to this list, I guess. – Bravo Mar 19 '12 at 14:10
  • Also if the problem refers to an illness, the person is (obviously) a patient. – Bravo Mar 19 '12 at 14:10
  • @shyam, I'll have to go with victim for now. My original statement was: Removing the _____ is not the way to solve the problem. ___ would be victim if i rephrased it as: Removing the victim is not the way to stop a crime – SoWhat Mar 19 '12 at 17:13
  • If this was any other site and I saw someone use the word "querent" I'd say you were making it up. – Chris Marisic Mar 19 '12 at 17:45
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    @Chris: Were this any other site, I might get away with making something up. – Tim Lymington Mar 20 '12 at 10:26

I don't know a word the matches in general.

But in some contexts you can describe him with words that fits the situation. For instance:

If the problem faces him to a challenge you can call him challenger or contender.

If the situation is very unlucky for him you can call him unlucky fellow.

A little bit more general term may be:

  • person affected
  • person concerned
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  • I think the term I was looking for was 'victim', in the end... the victim of a crime, but had to generalize – SoWhat Mar 19 '12 at 17:09

If the person has brought their problem to your attention they could be called the complainant.

If they are suffering under a problem, they could be called the sufferer (as @TimLymington explained) or the victim (if it wasn't their fault).

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You might consider someone with a problem to be unfortunate, in which case you could call them an unfortunate.

unfortunate noun - an unfortunate person.

So you could say

This unfortunate has a problem.

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Schlemiel: an awkward and unlucky person for whom things never turn out right.

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    Welcome to EL&U. Thanks for your contribution, but as StackExchange answers are expected to stand on their own as references, I would encourage you to edit your post to include examples "in the wild" and links to any dictionaries or other references that may cite this word. Our help center and site tour may also be of interest. – choster Apr 30 '15 at 15:00

It depends greatly on what the "problem" is. If the "problem" is in the sense of a person with a technical problem you might be able to use something like "Dear User:" If, instead, you mean a person with mental or physical deformities, malfunctions or diseases you'd better stick with "Dear Sir:/Dear Madam:" or something similar.

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    The question isn't about how to start a letter - addressee is used as an example noun, i.e address is to addressee as problem is to ??? – Matt E. Эллен Mar 19 '12 at 14:02

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