I'm looking for a single-word noun for an immoral (edit: just as likely, amoral) person. The closest I've come up with are: deviant, scoundrel, and reprobate. None of those seems harsh enough. Are there better options?

An example sentence, although not the writer's actual content, would be something like this:

She tried to appeal to his better nature, but he was a(n) XXX and had none.

I've tried looking in various places for combinations of noun and immoral person, but none of them yielded much more than the above.

(Edit based on comments: Scoundrel and reprobate have some of the right feel, as does boor, but they are used playfully too often to capture it correctly. Blackguard and miscreant are perhaps better, and they may be the best that I can find. I think the trouble is that I was looking for immoral, when I should probably have been looking for amoral, but sociopath feels too much like a diagnosis. I will run this by my daughter, who was the one looking, and is probably asking in her writers groups, but I'm starting to believe I was overthinking this. I'm looking for a word for someone whose amorality makes me think the person is immoral. And at that point, perhaps the simple monster will do; although that is more judgmental than desired. I'll run blackguard by her.)


5 Answers 5


If you can slightly reword, a scoundrel is someone who is unscrupulous.

without moral principles; not honest or fair

The slight rewording simply drops to article so an adjective can be used.

She tried to appeal to his better nature, but he was a(n) unscrupulous and had none.

Oxford Learner's Dictionaries

  • Thank you. This is actually not for me, but for my daughter, whose structure really calls out for a noun; my sentence was just an example because the singe-word-request tag recommended one. There are many, many good related adjectives. Unscrupulous would be quite fitting, if an adjective actually fit. But I'm still hoping for a noun, and am surprised by how few there seem to be. Mar 2 at 2:43
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    Scoundrel really is the noun counterpart--a scoundrel is an unscrupulous person. The lack of harshness might be due to these words being commonly used in a facetious way in the past.
    – jimm101
    Mar 2 at 18:32
  • Yes, that's my objection to scoundrel; it's too often used lightheartedly, even flirtatiously, which is entirely the wrong vibe. Mar 2 at 23:12
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    Unscrupulous may cover many immoral people, but not all: some people commit horrendously immoral acts because they scrupulously follow their own misguided ideas about what they ought to do.
    – jsw29
    Mar 3 at 19:31

Reprobate seems to work. It is a noun, although it may lack the connotation your daughter is looking for in the sentence. It does seem to be used with affection much of the time, like rogue or rascal.

Perhaps villain would work?

  • Thanks. She's already rejected reprobate, but I'll run villain by her. Mar 20 at 19:10

I like the way fiend sounds here.


a wicked or cruel person (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/fiend)

She tried to appeal to his better nature, but he was a fiend and had none

  • Unattributed text is indistinguishable from plagiarism. Please fix your missing attribution.
    – tchrist
    Mar 20 at 22:23
  • @tchrist Ah, thank you for the heads up. I see now the other posts have the dictionary link.
    – Error_2646
    Mar 21 at 13:53
  • I like it. I'll run this one by my daughter as well. Mar 21 at 14:12

Not sure what you mean by 'someone whose amorality makes me think the person is immoral' so can't help you there, but deviant, scoundrel, reprobate, degenerate, etc. all have similar meaning and would work in your sentence pretty much interchangeably. Those words are generally NOT used playfully. If you want something more harsh (and colloquial) you could go with scumbag, asshole, jerk, etc. or a whole host of similar putdowns too numerous for a Thesaurus.


There's psychopath, someone with no conscience or "better nature". Virtually every dictionary on the planet will say something along those lines, perhaps using words like "who never feels remorse".

You can find similar views on what a psychopath is by perusing some of the excerpts here.

  • This was flagged as LQ. You know what to do to stay out of the queue.
    – livresque
    Mar 2 at 20:34
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    @alphabet Yes, I know that but I want them to answer. People who edit don't usually completely change the thing. Had I been livresque, I would have worded my comment differently.
    – Lambie
    Mar 2 at 21:57
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    sociopath is closer to what I'm looking for than psychopath, but thank you. The more possible terms I can find, the more jumping-off points I have in the thesaurus hopping. Mar 3 at 2:58
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    I thik this requirement to paste in a dictionary definition is stupid. It should be necessary only if the answerer has misconstrued the definition and is challenged by another user to justify the answer. If the answer fits and you know it fits, upvote it. If you think it is a wrong answer, downvote it.
    – TimR
    Mar 3 at 10:52
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    @alphabet I think people should challenge answerers to defend an answer with citations whenever they see fit, especially if they disagree with it, but if something is common knowledge and could be easily supported with dozens and dozens of references, such as the meaning of the word psycopath, it should suffice to have upvotes or downvotes be the judge. Why even have a voting system?
    – TimR
    Mar 5 at 22:38

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