For example, Macbeth became guilt-ridden and started to hallucinate after murdering King Duncan and Banquo. So he lacks the ability to remain calm after committing a crime. Is there a word to describe such an ability?


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    composure, sangfroid, heartlessness, ruthlessness, mercilessness, lack of pity, pitilessness. You can also google for "ruthlessness synonyms" Nov 28, 2015 at 8:07
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    Before the advent of the discipline of Abnormal Psychology, speakers would say that someone "lacked a conscience", i.e. that they had no "moral sense". Today they would be considered psychopaths. To cast such ruthlessness as an "ability to remain calm" puts a spin on the situation. Are you looking for a term of approbation for this behavior?
    – TimR
    Nov 28, 2015 at 14:34

2 Answers 2


A word to describe such a characteristic would be an adjective so I would say:


According to American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language it means:

a. Lacking feeling or emotion: a cold-blooded killer.

b. Executed without feeling or emotion: a cold-blooded crime; a cold-blooded performance of the concerto.


Around 1900AD, the terms psychopath and sociopath started being used for people who were callous and showed a lack of empathy, also described as coldheartedness.

People who behaved that way were often also described as having a “callous unconcern for the feelings of others.”

So being psychopathic or sociopathic would be one way. Thanks to the influence of crime procedural dramas, it's a word in fairly common parlance, rather than being purely jargon.

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