10 Words For A Person Who Makes Bad Decisions

Everyone ends up with a nickname at some point in their lives, whether it’s a good one or a bad one. People who make bad decisions regularly end up with their own nicknames, whether they know it or not. Here is a list of terms or nicknames for those who tend to make bad decisions.

What Do You Call A Person Who Makes Bad Decisions?

  • Dysfunctional
  • Incompetent
  • Self-Saboteur
  • Unreliable
  • Counterproductive
  • Train-wreck
  • Doofus
  • Hot Mess
  • Screw-Up
  • Disaster

The preferred term to call someone who makes bad choices throughout their life without seeming to have learned from them is “dysfunctional”. Using the term “dysfunctional” allows you to call it as you see it without insulting anyone to who the term may apply to that happens to be present.

Words For A Person Who Makes Bad Decisions


When someone is always making bad choices, calling them “dysfunctional” is a great way to describe them without sounding as though you are insulting them. It’s a good description that is fitting for someone who continually makes bad choices in their life.

A dysfunctional example would be a couple in the next-door apartment that argues often and breaks up weekly. This is poor decision-making between the couple, as they would likely be happier apart, but continue to engage in bad decision-making.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “dysfunctional” as “not behaving or working normally”.

  • Jessica: The neighbors are fighting again.
  • Barb: They really are a dysfunctional couple.


If you have someone in your life who is constantly making the wrong decisions and never learning, a fair name for them would be “incompetent”. You may feel as though this could be interpreted as an insult, but if they are constantly making bad choices and mistakes, incompetent is a fair and fitting word.

An appropriate and fitting situation to call someone incompetent would be if someone was making the decision to smoke marijuana recreationally before they started their shift f0r work and this caused them to make errors or forget orders or protocols, making them an incompetent worker.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “incompetent” means “not having the ability to do something as it should be done”.

  • Trevor: Can you believe they managed to get eleven orders wrong today?
  • Janet: They’re so incompetent that I don’t even know how they haven’t been fired yet.


If you know someone who is constantly making bad decisions, especially ones affecting the quality of their life or of the lives of those around them, a fitting name for them would be a “self-saboteur”. This means they are actively making decisions that sabotage their own life or happiness.

An example of a situation where someone is self-sabotaging would be someone making bad decisions repeatedly, such as the choice to repeatedly do addictive drugs. This person would be self-sabotaging as they are engaging in bad behaviors that are very negatively impacting their life.

Cambridge Dictionary definite “self-sabotage” as “to intentionally do something that stops someone from achieving what they want or stops something from developing as it should”.

  • Billy: I’m worried she won’t make it through the semester if she carries on like this.
  • Jessy: Her self-sabotaging behavior didn’t exist until started talking with those people online.


You may find you often use the term “unreliable” with some people around you. This is a term you can use when talking about someone who makes a lot of bad choices, causing them to be late, frequently cancel their plans at the last minute, or not show up for something.

Needing to use this term can be a common occurrence if you have someone in your life who has failed to show up for you when you needed them, such as giving you a ride when they agreed to or calling you at the last minute and saying they can’t actually watch your house while you’re out of town.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “unreliable” is defined as “not able to be trusted or believed”.

  • Brandon: I can’t believe Jason didn’t come to pick me up from the airport.
  • Karen: I don’t know why you asked him in the first place; you know how unreliable he is.


When someone is making bad choices that actively move them further away from their goals, this person is being “counterproductive”. This is a great term to use if you know someone like this, but don’t want to sound mean when talking to them.

An example of someone being counterproductive would be if you know someone trying to save up money in order to do something. However, they keep spending their money or quitting their job because they get bored, leading to repeated and counterproductive decisions.

“Counterproductive” is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary to mean “having an effect that is opposite to the one intended or wanted”.

  • Melissa: Do you want to head to the mall with me? I need some new shoes.
  • George: Isn’t that counterproductive to you decluttering your closet and saving money?

Train Wreck

Sometimes, you need a term to call it as you see it when someone makes one bad decision after another, and a fitting term to describe someone with this behavior would be to call them a “train wreck”. If someone is a train wreck, they are making bad decisions recklessly that very negatively impact their life but they have almost no regard for that anymore.

At some point or another, everyone has a friend that ends up making a few too many bad choices and becomes a trainwreck that you either have to sit and watch or you have to step away and let them run off the rails. They may be going to parties constantly, failing their classes, struggling with various addictions, and may even be in and out of jail.

“Train wreck” is defined as “failing completely or going extremely badly” according to the Cambridge Dictionary.

  • Lana: Did you see that Larry left rehab early again?
  • Carole: That guy is such a train wreck.


Every now and then, you come across someone who doesn’t have the situational awareness or the reasoning skills to make the correct decisions they need to in their life, causing them to frequently make bad decisions. “Doofus” is a fitting term to describe this type of person and can be used both mockingly or endearingly depending on the context of the situation and the person using it.

Doofus doesn’t always need to be an insult but may be used as a term of endearment. When someone you care about is prone to making bad decisions resulting in harmless mistakes, you may affectionately call them a doofus. However, if they are constantly making bad decisions resulting in more serious consequences, the term may become an insult.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “doofus” as “a stupid person”.

  • Peter: I ordered cappuccinos for everyone but ended up drinking three of them and I think I can see sounds now.
  • William: You’re such a doofus, you know that?

Hot Mess

The term “hot mess” is an appropriate one to use to describe someone who is always making bad decisions but is somehow managing to hold their life together. This phrase is most often used with a mixture of amazement and disbelief because one cannot believe they are succeeding as well as they are despite their continuous bad decisions.

Those you know who are hot messes are usually lively and chaotic, always on the lookout for a good time, but never prepared for the morning after the party is over. These people are usually still able to function and make their way through life even if you may be confused about how they manage to do so.

A “hot mess” is defined as “someone or something with a very messy appearance, or that is not well-organized” by the Cambridge Dictionary.

  • Carson: I heard that he’s been at that sketchy club every night for the last two weeks until closing time.
  • Elizabeth: He really is a hot mess, but at least he shows up for work on time.


When someone tends to make bad choices often, leading to a string of mistakes wherever they go, the term “screw-up” is often used. Usually, the person who is a screw-up does not mean any harm or ill-will from their bad decisions, but they seem to continually make the wrong choices, leaving them with this name following them around.

Someone who always ends up making bad decisions, whether they intended to or not end, up frequently being called a screw-up. The size of their bad decisions could be quite small, such as always messing up orders or turning in the wrong work or their decisions could be quite large, such as always failing important tests because they chose not to study or getting into minor, or major, car accidents because they continue to run red lights.

Cambridge Dictionary defines “screw-up” as “a situation in which you do something badly or make a big mistake”.

  • Hannah: I got another DUI and they suspended my license.
  • Tucker: You need to stop being such a screw-up and get your life together or you’re going to hurt someone.

Walking Disaster

If you need to describe someone who is always making bad choices that seem to spiral out of control, the term you need is “walking disaster”. Someone who is a walking disaster usually ends up involved in all sorts of drama and makes bad decisions that only lead to more bad decisions. This term can also be used to refer to someone who is very accident prone and always ends up with a new injury somehow.

Sometimes, you may find yourself in the company of someone who’s a walking disaster. They can make one bad decision and then a string of bad decisions and accidents follow them around all day long. A walking disaster usually doesn’t mean to make a bad decision, but the outcome of their choices may seem irrelevant or unavoidable.

A “walking disaster” is defined as “someone who seems to be a human form of disaster, encyclopedia, etc” by the Cambridge Dictionary.

  • Becky: You wouldn’t guess it from how I look, but I’m a walking disaster.
  • Peter: You can’t be any worse than my brother is. I swear he almost dies at least once a month.