Seeking Vocabulary

This is a very strange thing to be stuck on, but…

I’m looking for straightforward, easily-memorable words meaning “what you strive to be” and “what you struggle not to be (even though it’s a strong temptation)”.

The best I’ve got for the former is “virtue”, which has too strong of moral/religious connotations for my liking (someone might be motivated by ambition, but most people wouldn’t call ambition a moral virtue), and the best I’ve got for the latter is “hamartia” (the flaw that dooms a tragic hero), but that’s four syllables long and not exactly catchy.

A metaphor works just fine (instead of a literal meaning), if you have one, but since these tie in to a game mechanic, I’d like something that people can remember easily (which is why “hamartia” is out).

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(The intended use case, btw, is for a sort of personal karma meter where the endpoints potentially shift during play. These are the terms for the endpoints.)


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Some ideas to toss out:

Fulfillment and indulgence
Authenticity and hypocrisy
Jekyll and Hyde
Honor and corruption
Honor and shame
Satisfaction and regret
True Heart and Abandon
Harmony and disquiet
Inner Peace and Troubled Mind/Soul/Heart

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Paragon - a model of excellence or perfection
Reprobate - an unprincipled person (often used humorously or affectionately).



Ideal and shadow?

Best and worst self?

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Venal might be a good word for the negative one. Maybe paired with Principled? Staunch? True? Sure? Steadfast?

Or going more abstract: Apex/Nadir?

conscience / temptation

[inner] angel / devil (as in the classic trope)

superego / id

destiny / doom

pride / shame

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That sounds like Jung’s shadow self.

So maybe light/shadow or playing with a thesaurus: lux/umbra. Or coin a new word: luxumbra

Edit: Just googled it. Apparently Luxumbra is already a thing.

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Well there’s the obvious one:

  • Virtue - Vice

Hard to say whether it’d be better to draw from words that are true opposites of one another or not. Also, I find these terms getting more ornate as I go on; knowing what sort of setting this is for would help narrow down the possible tone.

Other ideas:

  • Idol - Failing
  • Ideal - Flaw
  • Strength - Weakness (obviously not in the physical sense (or, probably))
  • Growth - Decay
  • Decency - Corruption
  • Value - Indecency
  • Oath - Obscenity
  • Goal - Distraction
  • Motivation - Morass
  • Aspiration - Diversion
  • Target - Aside
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