What word best describes a person who is deceitful and very complicated to understand? As they say, he wears several masks.

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    There are probably many ways to describe such a person, but I might start with enigmatic or mysterious. – J.R. Jun 28 '12 at 18:11
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    Wearing several masks and being very complicated to understand are two very different things. Clarify, please. – CesarGon Jun 28 '12 at 19:36
  • @J.R.: "That's his power? He's mysterious?" – chaos Jun 28 '12 at 20:32
  • @chaos: I made my initial comment before the question was edited, when it asked for ways to describe "a person who is not straightforward but very complicated as he wears several masks." I also initially missed your cultural reference, but I got it now :^) – J.R. Jun 29 '12 at 0:29

Some words related to deceitful are duplicitous ("Given to or marked by deliberate deceptiveness in behavior or speech"), double dealing ("Cheating, dishonest; treacherous"), and aforementioned two-faced ("deceitful, hypocritical or duplicitous"). Analogous to previously-mentioned multifaceted is many-sided, meaning "Having many aspects".


The common English idiom nearest to your meaning is to speak of such a person as two-faced, though this strictly means someone is deceitful. To describe someone who is complex and hard to understand without implying deceitfulness, we might call them multifaceted.


Wearing several masks and being very complicated to understand are two very different things.

If you are after a word to describe someone who is very complicated to understand because they change often, then I like fickle or, perhaps a bit more metaphorically, volatile.

For someone who wears several masks, there are other answers on this page which I quite like.


You may say the person has multiple personalities, or is dissociated. If the person changes according to the ambience you could call him/her "chameleon".

  • Voluble most commonly means "fluent or having a ready flow of speech", and while it has a couple of rare senses that might apply, I suspect you mean volatile, meaning "fickle" or "temporary or ephemeral". – James Waldby - jwpat7 Jun 28 '12 at 20:44
  • @jwpat7 I guess you are right, though it seems that 'voluble' may be used in the sense of something that changes easily, there was some confusion between dictionaries (portuguese-english), as the words "voluble" and "volúvel" share the meaning of "turning easily on an axis", the portuguese word does not mean "fluent" and mostly means "unstable, inconstant". Thanks. – Tames Jun 28 '12 at 22:32

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