I'm searching for word suggestions. Something that you could use in a line of prose, for example; "the auburn-haired person who forgets things often", with the "person who forgets things often" replaced by a single-word alternative. I've thought of simply shortening it to "the auburn-haired forgetful", but though having some initial charm, it simply comes across as very offputting.

This is why I'm turning to this site. I need some input and advice on giving an easier name for this phenomenon.

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    I've thought of simply shortening it to "the auburn-haired forgetful" - You can't really do that in English; turning an adjective into a noun by putting the definite article in front of it means "the class of people who are adjective", not "a specific person who is adjective". "The auburn-haired forgetful" would mean "all of the people who have auburn hair and are forgetful."
    – stangdon
    Sep 16, 2016 at 18:57
  • I was about to suggest absent minded, but then forgot to consult my references to learn whether it ought to be hyphenated. Ditz is perhaps a little too muscular for the context, as is airhead. Before I finished thinking about it, JamesK provided the answer. (There is something delightfully evocative about the auburn-haired forgetful, though.) Sep 16, 2016 at 19:45
  • Using a noun to describe someone will always be more direct and evocative than using an adjective. So, "Bob is a scatterbrain" is a stronger statement than "Bob is scatterbrained". This happens because "Bob is a scatterbrain" is making an identification, whereas "Bob is scatterbrained" is just expressing a trait. Sep 16, 2016 at 19:48
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    Thanks, everyone! Stangdon, thank you very much for the distinction. And good suggestions, Dant, and a good point, dan. Sep 16, 2016 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


Consider the word "scatterbrain" - One who forgets things easily: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/scatterbrain

It is a little "jocular" - that is, it is a light-hearted word. It's not a nasty word like "idiot" but it lacks seriousness.

  • Thanks! As a non-native English speaker, this helps a lot. I wasn't aware that "scatterbrain" holds a lighter connotation than, as you said, "idiot" - or perhaps "airhead" or "ditz", as mentioned by other commenters. Sep 16, 2016 at 20:16

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