Sometimes the literal translations of "slang" sentences just don't make sense, so after reading a "Make me" answer (which I consider slang, due to its informal use, if I'm not wrong) to a request I started to wonder it's exact meaning, starting with the useful Urban Dictionary, containing some examples of usage, but not clear (for me at least) about the exact mood of the answer (I'm quite sure it always depends on the context).

So, to the direct answer: what is a valid equivalent of "Make me" when answering to a request?

Is it considerable a short form of "Try to make me do it, if you can" as a challenge meaning you will not do it and the person who required the action will not be able to enforce it?

Is it valid both as rude answer and friendly answer if the context and relation between the involved people are right?

  • Yes - and it's always rude (unless being used to parody rudeness). Apr 8, 2013 at 8:21
  • I don't understand why people downvoting this, though
    – ZuzEL
    Sep 19, 2022 at 8:31

1 Answer 1


You are correct to infer that the connotation of "Make me" depends upon the existing relationship between the people in the conversation.

In most circumstances, it represents a direct refusal along the lines that you suggest. {I will not do what you ask and you cannot} make me.

However between friends, it might be used in the sense {I would rather not, but will if you} make me.

In idiomatic Australian English there is a (now sadly archaic) expression Twist my arm (implying the need for physical coercion)that serves the same purpose when referring to a task that you would prefer not to undertake but will do because of your friendship with the peron asking. Can you help me shift my grandmother's walnut bedstead down three flights of narrow stairs? Oh, twist my arm.

As is the Australian way, it is also used in a jocular sense to accede to a request that you are eager to agree to. Will you have another beer? Only if you twist my arm!

  • 1
    In the UK I've never heard anyone use 'Twist my arm' as the same aggressive refusal as 'Make me', but you would definitely hear the friendlier version 'He didn't want to go with me but I twisted his arm.'
    – Mynamite
    Apr 8, 2013 at 9:01
  • So it seems like "Make me" roughly means the same as "Or what?"/"What you gonna do?"
    – ZuzEL
    Sep 19, 2022 at 10:31

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