5 Words To Describe A Person Who Is Stuck In The Past

If you know somebody who lives in the past, you might be looking for a word to describe them. We have a few good choices for you that we’d like to share. So, for all your synonym needs, have a read of this article to see what’s available.

Which Words Can Describe A Person Who Is Stuck In The Past?

There are a few good words we can use when trying to describe someone who is stuck in the past. When they do not want to change or often have a hard time moving forward, you might want to try one of the following:

  • Nostalgic
  • Backward-looking
  • Relic
  • Conservative
  • Anachronism
word for stuck in the past

The preferred version is “nostalgic.” We can use it as an adjective to describe somebody who is adverse to change because they like the way their current methods (i.e., “the past”) make them feel. It can be hard to convince a nostalgic to move out of the past.


Let’s start with the best version we can come up with and work our way down. You’ll find a lot of use from “nostalgic,” and it may be the exact word you’re looking for.

Someone who is a “nostalgic” often has a hard time letting go of the past. It’s usually because they enjoy the way certain things made them feel from their past, and they’re often worried that they might lose that or lose touch with those feelings if left for too long.

The definition of “nostalgic,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “feeling happy and also slightly sad when you think about things that happened in the past.”

The word “nostalgic” actually applies mostly to the emotions and feelings one gets related to their past experiences. However, we can also use it to describe a person when we know that they have a hard time letting go.

It will often prevent them from being able to move on and try new things. After all, if they already tried something once and it worked well, why should they have to change it?

Nostalgic people follow the mantra that “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Therefore, it would take a lot to move them on from their connection to the past.

Still, you might be interested in a few ways we can use it, and you’ll see how it works in these examples:

  • My grandfather is such a nostalgic. I can’t get a word in edgeways about the modern times we live in.
  • He’s too nostalgic to take this seriously. He’ll shut it down and blame it on all the younger politicians.
  • I don’t mean to be a nostalgic, but I’m having a hard time understanding why we need to change these methods.
  • Let’s not be caught up with our nostalgia. It’s time to move on from the practices we put forward before.
  • My mother is a nostalgic, and her ideologies are stuck in the past. I wish I could do something to move her past that.


Next, let’s look at how we might be able to use “backward-looking.” This hyphenated word is a great choice for somebody who struggles to move on after something in their past.

A “backward-looking” person is opposed to new things. They are so in love with the things that they’ve learned and experienced in the past that they’d be happy to let those things repeat again. They do not feel the need to move past everything that they already understand.

The definition of “backward-looking,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “opposed to change or new ideas.”

Change is scary to most people. There’s no denying that. However, backward-lookers often have such a strong aversion to it that they’d rather not be threatened with it at all.

While change is necessary (and often good), you have to tread carefully when considering the changes you’re about to put forward if you know a backward-looker.

You might benefit from the following examples to help you understand how we might use it:

  • Without meaning to sound backward-looking, I don’t understand why we need to change our strategies today.
  • You shouldn’t be so close-minded and backward-looking. It’s time that we try something new and impress the masses.
  • We’re both stuck in the past with our backward-looking mentalities. We need our children to help us correct that.
  • She is the biggest backward-looker I’ve ever met. I can’t even introduce her to the most basic technological advancements.
  • Stop being a backward-looker. I’m so sick of hearing you complain about how good things used to be.


Now let’s go over “relic.” This is a little harsh as an adjective, but we can still use it for exactly the meaning we are looking for here.

If somebody is a “relic,” it means we consider them old and long past their time. We might call someone this when they’ve shown a clear lack of interest to keep up with the present and advancements in society. They often prefer being stuck in the past.

The definition of “relic,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “an object, tradition, or system from the past that continues to exist.”

“Relic” can be a somewhat derogatory term. We often reserve it for those that look the oldest among a population of people. However, we can also use it as a more sarcastic comment to refer to a parent or person we might know who refuses to move on.

Often, relics are like the way things were in the past. They believe that if there wasn’t a problem with the function of something before, why would we ever need to change it in the present?

You might see “relic” work as follows:

  • I’m not a relic. How dare you say that! I just don’t like the new system.
  • My grandparents are a pair of relics, and it’s so hard to talk to them about any of my modern interests.
  • My mother is a relic, and she confiscated my technology because she said she didn’t have it growing up.
  • I don’t mean to sound like a relic, but I’m really confused about why we need to do any of this!
  • You shouldn’t be such a relic, dad. It’s time you moved on and explored new things!


While not the best word to use for the description we’re looking for, “conservative” is still a great way to talk about somebody who struggles with change.

A conservative is often somebody who cannot move on from the past. They struggle to come to terms with changes because they like to keep things the way they always have been. They believe that as long as it works, there is never a need to improve something further.

The definition of “conservative,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “not usually liking or trusting change, especially sudden change.”

If the modern age has taught us anything, it’s that there are always ways to make things more efficient. Therefore, we are constantly changing things and moving on to new advancements and ideas to improve the flow of products.

However, conservatives have a hard time dealing with this. It’s no secret that most people we might think of as “conservatives” are in the older generations. They prefer the way things were when they were young and have no time for the modern marvels we have today.

Here’s how you might see it used:

  • This entire neighborhood is filled with boring conservatives who don’t know how to move on from their pasts.
  • You’re stuck in the past, and you have such conservative views that I can’t even speak to you!
  • I don’t want to share my views with you because I know I’ll be considered a conservative.
  • Without meaning to sound too conservative, why can’t things just go back to the way they were before?
  • This new system is stupid! I liked the one before. Call me a conservative if you want. It was just better.


Finally, we can cover “anachronist.” It’s a much rarer word to come across for this meaning, but we might be able to use it in some cases.

Calling someone “anachronist” is referring to them as being an anomaly in time. It means they don’t belong in our current period of time, and they must have got lost somewhere in the past.

The definition of “anachronist,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “a person, thing, or idea that exists out of its time in history, especially one that happened or existed later than the period being shown, discussed, etc.”

Of course, time travel isn’t real, but that doesn’t mean the word “anachronist” doesn’t work. It’s mostly used as a sarcastic adjective to refer to somebody who is stuck in the past and doesn’t understand any of the modern workings of the world.

Here’s how it looks:

  • I’m certain that my father is an anachronist. He doesn’t get any of my tech!
  • My entire family is full of anachronists. I don’t understand why they don’t get me.
  • Stop being an anachronist and help me get to the bottom of why this new system imploded.
  • You shouldn’t be such an anachronist in front of your children. That kind of thing will make them resent you.
  • I’m trying to stop being an anachronist, but I prefer my past comforts to how things work today.