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noun [countable]

someone who continues to work beyond the age when people usually retire


noun [countable/uncountable]

'Dubbed nevertirees, many wealthy individuals will never stop working, the report said, even if they have little financial need to do so. Like Alper, they want to keep doing what they are doing for as long as possible.'

CNN Money 28th September 2010

'There are a number of factors driving the notion of nevertirement, and whilst higher life expectancies and concerns about an unpredictable economy are almost certainly relevant, it is fascinating to see that wealthy people are continuing to work for a variety of other reasons …'

The Telegraph, UK 27th September 2010

Retirement. Conventionally, it's perceived as something that most people look forward to – the freedom to rest, travel, or pursue whatever interests they have, without the daily grind of turning up at the office. But for a certain section of the population, it seems that the golf course, spending winters in sunnier climes, lazy afternoons in front of the TV and all those other retirement clichés have lost their appeal. For these folks, recently dubbed the nevertirees, the prospect of retirement just can't compete with the stimulation of the workplace.

for a certain section of the population, the golf course, spending winters in sunnier climes and lazy afternoons in front of the TV have lost their appeal

On the surface this might seem surprising – would a person who had spent the majority of his/her life in a tough job, especially if it involved hard physical work or immense pressure, really be keen to trade those years of leisure and relaxation for life back in employment? No, the reality is that the term nevertiree relates to a particular breed of worker, a person who has enjoyed a very high level of professional and financial success.

The term nevertiree hit the spotlight in the context of a survey recently carried out in the UK by Barclays Wealth (a division of the well-known bank, which provides financial services to the more affluent). The survey found that 60% of individuals polled planned to reject retirement in favour of becoming a nevertiree, continuing to work, take on new projects and even start new businesses, regardless of their advancing years. In financial terms, these people all fell into the category of 'high net worth' individuals, which means that they had more than £1 million in investable assets.

However for the nevertiree, it seems that it's not just about making more money. If someone has spent their working life in a stimulating job – doing deals, solving problems or making a big contribution to society – it's not surprising that they might miss the adrenaline rush and satisfaction of continuing to work. Many high-earning, successful professionals feel defined by their work and lose a sense of their own identity without it. Others enjoy the company of their peers and would find it hard to let go of professional friendships. Stepping out of the world of work could therefore open up the potential for loneliness and depression if life changes dramatically and boredom sets in. Far better then to become a nevertiree, who at this level of professional and financial success is likely to have choices about what and how much work they do.

If after reading this you're relieved to know that the concept of nevertirement only applies to the rich and successful, then think again – apparently there's a lot of evidence to suggest that busy, engaged people are happier and live longer, so maybe becoming a nevertiree isn't such an unappealing option after all!

Background – nevertiree

The term nevertiree is formed from a blend of never and retiree, a word used mainly in American English to refer to a person who has stopped work because they have reached retirement age.

Nevertirement stands in contrast to the related neologism protirement. Coined in the early 1990s, the term protirement (with related verb protire) refers to the concept of early retirement from professional work, sometimes as early as the age of 35, in order to pursue something more fulfilling.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 1st November 2010.

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

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