Is there a word, or tightly constructed phrase, that means prepared or pre-planned, but has a negative connotation?

The idea being that in some circumstances, it is better to be in the moment and improvising instead of forcing preconceived ideas.

An example use would be something like:

That guy can't let go of the ideas he had when he came in today. He's being totally _____.

Update: While there have been many close and helpful suggestions, the key element that is still lacking is the concept of pre-existing plans. It's entirely possible for someone to be close-minded or stubborn while improvising new ideas of their own.

It may well be that a term like this doesn't exist, but the right term would not only mean resistant to new ideas from others, but necessarily include having pre-existing ideas as the cause.

  • 2
    reminded me of this
    – Xantix
    Aug 10, 2012 at 4:22
  • I like forced for this. Aug 10, 2012 at 6:25

11 Answers 11


I like hidebound for this purpose, which in one of its senses means "stubborn; narrow-minded". Of course narrow-minded ("having restricted or rigid views, and being unreceptive to new ideas" or "intolerant, bigoted or prejudiced") is a possibility too, along with reactionary ("opposed to change; urging a return to a previous state" or "very conservative"), small-minded ("Selfish, petty, constrained in thought, limited in scope of consideration" or "Not interested (or capable) of thinking about the big picture"), insular, monomanic, having a one-track mind ("obsessed with something or only able to think of one thing"), or having tunnel vision (focussing "one's attention on one specific item or event, to the exclusion of everything else").


How about:

close-minded: not ready to receive new ideas.

  • +1 for being within the realm of possibility. However, I think it might still be a little off target because a person could be close-minded even if that person did not have any pre-planned ideas. Put another way, a person could be improvising, and still rejecting other ideas in favour of their own.
    – Questioner
    Aug 10, 2012 at 4:23
  • But you could say, that to really be close-minded your mind must be closed to not only external ideas, but internal as well. Someone who thinks enough to come up with new ideas on their own would usually be called open-minded.
    – Jim
    Aug 10, 2012 at 4:27
  • One could say that, sure, but I think that involves too much individual interpretation of the nature of close-mindedness is, to the point where it can't be relied upon to be accessible to others.
    – Questioner
    Aug 10, 2012 at 5:37
  • I thought it was 'closed-minded'. Aug 15, 2012 at 8:22
  • @BarryBrown: I believe either is acceptable
    – Jim
    Aug 15, 2012 at 14:54

It doesn't fit neatly into the example sentence provided, but one phrase I've heard used to express this idea is that someone has a bee in his bonnet:

A bee in his bonnett: Preoccupied or obsessed with an idea.


I would say

That guy can't let go of the ideas he had when he came in today. He's being totally prejudiced.

  • I think that the unfortunate thing here is that prejudiced might mean exactly what I'm looking for, but unfortunately in modern usage it has so much additional baggage associated with forms of discrimination, especially racial contexts, that if I said this to anyone, they would almost certainly think I was accusing them of being a bigot.
    – Questioner
    Aug 14, 2012 at 3:24

Over-prepared has the negative connotation while keeping the exact sense of preparation. It is normally used to describe a person who has worn himself out with the preparation so that the performance suffered.

  • Reminds me of a real fussbudget.
    – tchrist
    Aug 11, 2012 at 13:19

For Brit. speakers, 'blinkered' might do. (Blinkers are called 'blinders' in US; I don't think 'He's blindered' would be used!)


A few phrases from different contexts:

  • He can't deviate from his script.

  • He just doesn't come off as sincere/genuine.

  • He's always planning something.

  • He has an ulterior motive for everything.

  • He's like a robot.

  • He comes off as overly rehearsed.

  • He's a Type A. (said disparagingly)


About a decade or so ago, the field of software engineering underwent an agile movement, in response to the belief that some development methodologies were putting too much emphasis on planning. In fact, one of the four tenets of the agile manifesto is to value:

Responding to change over following a plan

I'm not sure how much the word agile has crossed over from software development into other areas of management, however, you could borrow that word, and say:

That guy can't let go of the ideas he had when he came in today. He needs to be more agile.

Other words that come to mind are inflexible and entrenched:

That guy can't let go of the ideas he had when he came in today. He's too entrenched.

NOAD defines entrench to mean establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely.

Lastly, you might consider a humorous phrasing:

That guy puts the "NO" in "INNOVATION."

(although one company has somehow managed to twist even that into a positive).

  • Entrenched is great. The more I think about it, the more I like it.
    – Questioner
    Aug 10, 2012 at 17:22

He might be over-thinking a problem. He might be in love with his own ideas.


I would say "he has his own agenda.".


I like either fixed or fixated for this. Hope this helps!

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