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These adjectives apply to people who perform actions marked by insufficient care or attention or to the actions themselves. Careless often implies negligence or casual indifference: "It is natural for careless writers to run into faults they never think of" (George Berkeley).
Heedless can suggest willful or reckless disregard: "She ... watched the top of the hill for someone drunk or heedless coming over it in part of her lane" (Andre Dubus).
Thoughtless applies to actions taken without due consideration; it frequently implies lack of concern for others: "a thoughtless remark about the war that will worry an already worried child" (Kristin Henderson).
Inadvertent implies unintentional lack of care or attention: "For the deterrence theorists, the greatest worry was inadvertent war, a cataclysm that might follow from misperception" (Eliot A. Cohen).
- Act with the calm forethought of a beheaded chicken —Herman Wouk
In his novel, Inside, Outside, Wouk used the comparison to describe the behavior of political characters.
- Careless as a child at play —William Winter
- Careless as saints who live by faith alone —George Garrett
- [Charles de Gaulle] has been abysmally careless, like a man running a bus over mountains, who forgot to equip it with good brakes —Janet Flanner
- Ignore caution like a gambler with a hot tip —Anon
asleep at the switch Off one’s guard; negligent; having slow reflexes. This expression derives from early American railroad terminology. To switch a train is to transfer it from one track to another, and an unaware or negligent worker who was “asleep at the switch” could cause a serious accident. The expression is no longer restricted to railroad usage and can apply to any irresponsible lack of attention which could have adverse consequences.
give short shrift To pay little attention or give insufficient time or consideration to a person or matter; to treat in a cursory or perfunctory manner. Shrift is an archaic word for confession or absolution (from the verb shrive). Short shrift originally referred to the brief period prior to an execution during which a prisoner could make a confession to a priest.
Short trial, shorter shrift, had been given to the chief criminals. (William Hepworth Dixon, Royal Windsor, 1879)
The phrase eventually came into more general use referring to any brief respite or short period of time. Thus “to give short shrift” means to treat summarily or brusquely, giving little of one’s time or energy.
Every argument … tells with still greater force against the present measure, and it is hoped that the House of Commons will give it short shrift tonight. (Times, February 15, 1887)
a lick and a promise A hasty and perfunctory way of doing something; a half-hearted or nominal compliance with a request or command. In this expression, lick is used in the colloquial sense of ‘a slight and hasty wash,’ implying a lackadaisical or superficial performance of a task. Promise implies an assurance that a more complete and thorough job will be done at some unspecified time in the future.
The lassie gi’es a lick and a promise when I tell her to sweep! (E. F. Heddle, Marget at Manse, 1899)
slap:bang Hastily, often without consideration of possible consequences; hurriedly; haphazardly. This expression was originally used to describe sleazy eateries and “greasy spoons” where one received fast service by “slapping” his money down to pay for food that was indelicately “banged” onto the table.
They lived in the same street, walked to town every morning at the same hour, dined at the same slap-bang every day, and revelled in each other’s company every night. (Charles Dickens, Sketches by Boz, 1837)
Thus, by extension, slap-bang came to refer to anything done in a quick, careless, and unceremonious manner.
After fooling a man like a child in leading-strings for half a year, to let him go slap-bang, as I call it, in a minute, is an infernal shame. (Theodore Hook, The Parson’s Daughter, 1833)
slapdash Carelessly; in a hasty though thoughtless manner; hurriedly; haphazardly. Originally, slapdash was a technique of painting a wall to give it the appearance of wallpaper by “slapping” on a coat of paint and then “dashing” or splashing on spots or blotches of a contrasting color. Although slapdash is frequently applied as a criticism to a writer’s or an artist’s style, it is also applied in other contexts to denote careless haste.
I cannot plunge, slapdash, into the middle of events and characters. (Sir George Trevelyan, The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay 1838)
|Noun||1.||carelessness - the quality of not being careful or taking pains|
inattentiveness - the trait of not being considerate and thoughtful of others
unconscientiousness - the trait of not being painstaking or careful
carefulness - the quality of being careful and painstaking; "I admired the carefulness of his work"
|2.||carelessness - failure to act with the prudence that a reasonable person would exercise under the same circumstances|
dereliction - willful negligence
comparative negligence - (law) negligence allocated between the plaintiff and the defendant with a corresponding reduction in damages paid to the plaintiff
concurrent negligence - (law) negligence of two of more persons acting independently; the plaintiff may sue both together or separately
contributory negligence - (law) behavior by the plaintiff that contributes to the harm resulting from the defendant's negligence; "in common law any degree of contributory negligence would bar the plaintiff from collecting damages"
criminal negligence, culpable negligence - (law) recklessly acting without reasonable caution and putting another person at risk of injury or death (or failing to do something with the same consequences)
neglect of duty - (law) breach of a duty