Are You A Hoarder?

smaug_the_magnificent__fanart__by_redwryvenart-d6qfma1“Hoard” is not an everyday word, but the idea of hoarding often appears even when the word isn’t used. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Some of my students have enjoyed The Hobbit and Treasure Island – two books that have been made into movies. In The Hobbit, Smaug is the dragon that kills most of the dwarves (imaginary creatures that look like small men), takes their gold and other treasures (something valuable), hides them deep inside Lonely Mountain, and uses them as a bed. Smaug is a hoarder.

In Treasure Island, Jim finds a map and, together with some others, follows it to an island where a very large treasure has been buried by a pirate (someone who robs or steals from ships at sea) named Flint. Flint is also a hoarder.

A hoard is a large collection of things that someone hides so no one else can find it. Sometimes people will hoard things like food to have it in an emergency, for example, during a war.

When we hear the word hoard or hoarder today, we often think about something a little different. We think about people who become so attached to things with little or no value that they find it difficult to throw them away.

Elizabeth is a good example. She is a writer. And she worries that she and her partner are hoarders because their small house is full of things they have collected but never use. She writes:

I’m pretty sure my partner and I are hoarders, or least well on our way. We have one entire room in our house that’s too full of clutter (a large number of things that are scattered around) to walk through — a library of junk (old unwanted objects)….

What’s in there? Comic books. Textbooks. A shoe collection. Costumes. Sewing notions (supplies). Slightly used wrapping paper. Old photos. Plastic bugs. Real dead bugs…. Pulp fiction (popular stories). Action figures. Notebooks. Items carelessly chewed by long-dead pets. Wine goblets (glasses)….

The junk room door is always closed. My daughter doesn’t even know we have a third bedroom.

The rest of the house isn’t much better.

For some people, hoarding is not just a bad habit (something you do automatically without thinking). It’s a serious problem. It’s irrational (it doesn’t make sense) and compulsive (they can’t stop). Their houses and apartments become so full of junk that they are no longer safe or healthy to live in. And they do everything they can to make sure that other people don’t find out what they are doing.

Elizabeth worries that they’re hoarders. But her partner thinks they’re just messy. And she says that he’s probably right for now. But she worries that they might become hoarders after her daughter leaves home.

One short note: there is another word – horde – that sounds the same as hoard. Horde refers to a large group of people – for example, “A horde of soccer fans ran onto the field after the soccer game.”

~ Warren Ediger – ESL tutor/coach and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo of Smaug from is used under Creative Commons license.


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24 Responses to Are You A Hoarder?

  1. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Good morning, Warren. Great topic is this one about keeping old things in a room sometimes things you would never use. Good for nothing! I have to confess that I used to have this habit but today I think better before buying junks. I buy exactly the things I really need. Thanks for the tip.

  2. peter says:

    Hi my good man Warren,
    The topic is a hot button issue for me ,a sticking point if you will: a dilemma my family never got out of.
    I mean,
    Don’t get me even started. My father is a pack rat . In fact the term ” hoarding ” is defined by him.
    He has a collage of useless, worthless junks he loves more than his kids.
    My old man is sick ! There u go ! I said it. It is out there. It is not that he reads my stuff here.
    He has stuck up on everything for the past oh boy, 40 years or so.And ,I m not talking about food here.

    In fact, My folk’s place has declared a landfill by the good people of city hall :))))

    I get it . I understand. Some People develop the habit of collecting item of values in high hopes that the money value of their collectibles will appreciate over time.some on the other hand are not as business minded; they are just a patron of art or whatever they are stashing away.
    I get them.
    But ,sadly my dad’s compulsive behaviour has taken an ugly turn over time.
    In the beginning ,years before I stepped in this planet 🙂 my father was an art lover. He was known to collect small items of beauty and values which my mom didn’t mind that much at the time thinking rather assuming, in time once kids are in the picture, the nuisance would go away.
    However , it never played out that way. To the contrary , It turned into a compulsive ,neurotic behaviour.

    I myself consulted with a handful of shrinks about my dad completion.
    they collectively believe that it is all psychological.
    Psychologically speaking ,my dad is emotionally attached to them : a replacement for affection he never received as a kid or ,they say.
    Anyway, we have a big problem on hand , my mom has had it up to her ears with my Dad and my dad doesn’t budge. He does not want to let go of his worthless stuff.
    Poor us ,me and my siblings I mean.
    We ,against our wish , help my dad pack them and move them to their new places that they change every 2 : 3 years max.
    Boy ,we always rent a separate UHall truck for his stuff alone.
    In fact ,they just recently moved to a new place.
    My dad collecting stuff had a bad influence on me. I personally hate furniture of any kind.
    You should come visit my place a lot of empty spaces. The biggest thing in my place is an island in my kitchen that I use in a way ias my kitchen table. I have a small hide-bed that I fold out to bed at nights and serves as my coach on days, a small TV sets and a coffee table. That is it !!!
    My wardrobe never exceeds five items!
    Oh I forgot , on top of everything ,my dad collects stamps. Tons of ,tons of stamps. God I hate them. I can’t even begin to tell u How much I want to make a bonfire out of them.
    Well ,needless to say ,my dad and I ,are not exactly in good terms. In fact ,I see them just at the time of their moving. I can’t stand his garbage!


  3. Dan says:

    Hey everyone.

    I was looking for the opposite of hoarder because that’s what I am.
    I don’t like having too much stuff around.

    My attempt at looking for a term describing the opposite pole was unsuccessful.

    Maybe someone of you guys will eventually help finding that label.

    What I mean is: Nothing into the car. Fridge almost empty. No pictures on the walls. Fewer pieces of furniture possible. Same with clothes. Essential diet.

    What do you guys think? Is there a term describing that lifestyle?
    I had in mind Frugal.

    But I knew another one that I cannot remember right now.

    Thanks and see you later.

  4. Dan says:


    I am back because I found the term that describes my style.

    I knew it, it was somewhere in the back of my mind. It’s usually used to describe interior design/styles.

    The term I was looking for is Minimalism. I think I was born a minimalist. That lifestyle it’s what I am looking for.


  5. Narges says:

    Hi everyone,
    Part of my mind says that don’t keep those used cloths and wrapping papers; those papers you got from different trips, journeys or conferences wouldn’t be useful.
    Another part of my mind says they say your memories when you become old.
    Second part always wins and I’m a hoarder.

  6. Narges says:

    Dear peter,
    I love people who collect just like your father. For me, it makes sense to life.

  7. peter says:

    Hey Dan ,
    I see your point but I don’t think “minimalist “has anything t do with ” hoarder.”
    My understanding is : technically ” hoarder ” is the person who store things.
    U said that U are a minimalist which means u keep everything simple : using less stuff
    I don’t think there is some specific word that describes the opposit of Hoarder.
    For what it is worth,I think the opposit of hoarder is regular people.
    I came up with wasteful but later I realized it has nothing to do with ” hoarder.”
    It is just me though


  8. Dan says:

    Hey Pete.

    That’s right.

    Let’s say then that if you have the “normal” guy in the middle the hoarder on the right and the guy who does not gather things on the left, I would put myself slightly on the center left side.


  9. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Everybody is right: those who keep old things and those who don’t. It depends on the way you feel good inside.

  10. peter says:

    Hi eslpod
    I love learning guid.
    I find The sentence examples and the additional definition for the terms we learn in every episode very cheerful and useful.
    I see then as an reinforcement in my day to day uphill battle in Toronto as English language is not hobby but means of living around here.
    The culture talk u have going on there spice the whole thing up ,and makes the experience :a delight!!!!

    Eslpod thanks for besting yourself at our one and only learning guid!
    I get a kick out of the material presented in learning guid!!

    All fun !!!

    Your groupie 🙂

  11. peter says:

    Hey Dan,
    Thanks for the direction !!!
    U r a funny man.
    U crack me up 🙂

    Thanks chum,


  12. peter says:

    I m not much of a drinker.
    But ,when I do drink ,I like my drink with a lemon wedge !!

  13. emiliano says:

    May be I am a hoarder as always I have collected hundred or thousand of books, vinilos, cd, and so forth.
    Count also hundred of movies in dvd or blu ray but even in avi files.
    So yes, I am a hoarder fan of Amazon where now I buy all these subjects.

    Worst of all, now with the cloud all these kind of material are not useful but even so I like to see the music
    cd or vinilos.
    The books are now in a room down stairs as finally I am using the Kindle where hundred of books are
    also inside the electronic reader.

    Again, yes I am a hoarder of value things like books, movies, music, operas, and some other subjects like
    nice good watches, incredible headphones to listen to marvellous music, and camaras of different uses.
    Never stamps, or papers, or even coins, as I could have five or six silver coins at home only, by the way one
    of the coins was given to me by a good nice girl that collect them for herself, thank you dear it has great value
    for me.


  14. emiliano says:

    For the last three years from every big city I have visited I have bought a greal watch.
    First one was in Harrods, London, the second was in Munich, and the third has been
    in Amsterdam.
    Also in Nureberg and in Utrech I bought another two nice not so good watches.

    Evidently, I don’t need them but they are really beautiful, I like the watches very much,
    so am I a hoarder, that’s for sure and I will be till the end.
    Every one big city I could visit out of Spain are awaiting me to buy a new
    splendid watch that could give me nice good memories.

    Illusions are the salt of life after all.


  15. emiliano says:

    Sure you are thinking about what kind of watches could buy this man.

    London a Murice Lecroix
    Munich a Tag Heuer
    Amsterdam a Longines
    Utrech a Tissot
    Mastrich a Emporio Armani
    Nuremberg a Certina

    Rolex and Omega are too expesive for me just now, but they could be
    a good value in future.
    There are lot of people that put their money in these king of value watches
    and as a nice man in Harrows told me when these watches are out of the
    markeet they increase their value if there are few of them made by the
    watch companies.

    Of course these are a very special kind of watches which it’s cost could be
    hundred of thousand euros.
    That’s incredible but real, a watch at the same price as a maserati or porche
    but smaler after all.

    Think about it if you get a lot of money.


  16. Warren says:

    Peter, Dan, and everyone – I’d like to add a couple of thoughts to Dan and Peter’s efforts to find a word that is the opposite of “hoard”. They were right to decide that “minimalism” is not the opposite of hoard. To be a minimalist is simply keeping or using only what is essential, or necessary, which sounds like what Dan is doing.

    My choice for the opposite of hoard (v) would be a verb like squander. Remember that to hoard means to collect things, keep and store them, and possibly hide them. Squander, on the other hand, means to carelessly or foolishly waste something – money, time, opportunities, etc. Waste is a good synonym for squander.

  17. peter says:

    Dare Warren ,
    I really appreciate the care!
    Thanks for clearing the problem
    Dan came up with a very good point and u raised to the occasion


  18. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Hi, Warren. You addressed the explanation to Peter and Dan about the word hoarder, but indirectly you hit me too. I always learn something new with ESL podcast and it is good to me. Thanks. I’d like to suggest you to comment about topics like ancient civilizations, good and evil, weird people and something like this. Thanks again.

  19. Dan says:

    Thanks Warren.

    That’s right.
    So, both the hoarder and squanderer get stuff but one keep it and the other waste it.

    My position would be not to collect or acquire in the first place, or the least possible, so that I do not find myself in those two situations.

    When I find myself having more than what I need, I usually give out things for free.
    Bought new smartphone, gifted the old one to a coworker.
    Thinking of getting a Ps4, gifted the old Xbox to another coworker.

    It works with me and I even feel good for giving stuff out.


  20. Parsin says:

    Hi everyone

    I enjoy reading your writing.

    Thank you


  21. emiliano says:

    Thank you Warren, all this are new words to me with an interesting meaning, so I am not a hoarder because I don’t like to hide
    things, usualy when I change something ney the old one I would try always to give it to somebody who may need it or like it more
    than me.
    Doing that it is possible I have given more than five or six smartphones, some other headphones, watches and so forth.

    Usually I tell my daughters, don’t buy any electronic devise first ask me as it is possible I have it by duplicate or more, and they
    use to do that.

    Again, interesting subject, good new words and that’s all for now. bye


  22. emiliano says:

    Now seriously.

    Here in Spain there are lot of people with this disoder and it is call compulsive
    horarding that sometime it is joined to the Sindrome of Diogenes.

    The compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder,is a pattern of behavior
    that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness
    to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and
    cause significant distress or impairment.

    More of the persons with this disoder are old and they live alone, it is very
    often the neighbours have to call the police to clean the flat of these poor
    persons that look into the rubish and collet nearly everything they could
    think it has some value.

    All kind of little creatures live with the hoarder and they use to have also
    five or six cats or other animals that put their rests verywhere.

    It is really a very sad matter.

    Greetings, emiliano

  23. Narges says:

    Dear Aecio Flavio Perim,
    I should confess that I never read your name completely. I always used to think that it’s a difficult name. Now today I read it and I knew It isn’t so that difficult. Actually it is nice.

  24. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Hello, Narges. I understand why you can’t spell my name correctly. It is because it is a biblical name, after a general of Cartago in ancient times of Roman Empire. But forget about how to spell my name. The important is that you got your attention on me. I have some friends from England and they complain how it is hard to say may name. I say to them to call me Peter-Aecio or Aecio-Peter. What do you have to say about my idea?

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