How can we express the "intentional ignoring" of someone in one word? Particularly if someone is ignoring another person's behaviour and acting uninterested in talking or communicating.

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    Do you mean ignorance or ignoring? Jul 1, 2013 at 9:32
  • 2
    What is your motivation for needing a single word? Poetry scansion? To fit in a headline? Why aren't two words good enough?
    – Mitch
    Jul 1, 2013 at 11:04
  • You definitely mean intentionally ignoring not intentional ignorance.
    – Kris
    Jul 1, 2013 at 12:39
  • Cut is used in this sense: She cut him dead means she ignored him, usually while he was trying to attract her attention, producing a public social reaction with its own metaphoric description. Mar 26, 2023 at 22:01
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/q/384502/36710
    – livresque
    Jan 27 at 10:38

9 Answers 9


It's not one word, but the idiom cold shoulder fits nicely.

TFD defines it as:

cold-shoulder - pay no attention to, disrespect : She cold-shouldered her ex-fiance

Collins mentions it can be used as a verb or a noun:

the cold shoulder (noun) a show of indifference; a slight
cold-shoulder (verb) to treat with indifference

Macmillan says:

cold-shoulder (v.) to be unfriendly toward someone you know

If a single idiom won't suffice, and you absolutely must have a single word, you could try some of the synonyms listed at TFD, such as dismiss, disregard, or ignore. I really like cold shoulder, though, because that idiom is used much more personally than its synonyms. In other words, you might dismiss, disregard, or ignore my advice, but you wouldn't cold-shoulder my advice; you'd only cold-shoulder me. Giving someone the cold shoulder is very much directed at the person you are ignoring, so it might be an ideal way to describe what you are trying to say.

  • Thanks A lot. I believe my question has been answered very well. Jul 1, 2013 at 10:54
  • Isn't there an intentional aspect to all ignoring? So, ignorance itself would do (though the other polyseme is more common and thus tends to distract from this meaning); dismissiveness is probably better. Jul 1, 2013 at 11:25
  • @Edwin: An example of "unintended ignorance" I thought of was the classic where the wife is trying to talk with her husband, but there's a close game on the television. When she realizes she's going to have to repeat everything she's just said in the last five minutes, he would probably say, "No, I wasn't ignoring you, I was just distracted," but she might not be too willing to make that distinction quite so readily. :^)
    – J.R.
    Jul 1, 2013 at 12:25
  • What about tend to ignore? Is there a word for it? (which is in fact coming from the intentional aspect of ignoring)
    – bonCodigo
    Aug 14, 2017 at 4:35

Well, ignore is just that word, isn't it?

Joe was talking about this, that, and the other, but Jane just ignored him.

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    Except ignore doesn't always carry the connotation of being intentional, although some dictionaries would agree with you – ignore: refuse to take notice of or acknowledge; disregard intentionally (NOAD, emphasis mine).
    – J.R.
    Jul 1, 2013 at 10:21
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    Hmm, in what way can "ignore" be not intentional? Can you give an example? Happy to widen my horizon. For me, ignoring is something that is done actively, despite circumstances that may be set against my intention to ignore, but not accidentally. The accidental case would be to "miss something happening" or some such. "Ignoring" implies intent, because you can only ignore what you are aware of. If you are not aware of it, you may miss it happening, but in order to ignore something you have to know it exists in the first place.
    – teylyn
    Jul 1, 2013 at 10:49
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    I think can think of a few ways ignore might be a little too "neutral" for the O.P.'s purposes, like when a person is distracted by something else (like the television), or when the person is "tuning out" background noise, to concentrate on a book or something . I just thought the O.P. was looking for something a little more hostile, perhaps – but it's hard to say for sure with the question so short. As I said, the dictionary would agree with you, and say that "ignore" may not be the right word for those examples, but I think some people use it that way from time to time.
    – J.R.
    Jul 1, 2013 at 12:21
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    Sorry; I echoed your answer in a comment, teylyn. Please accept an upvote. (I'm claiming I missed rather than ignored your answer.) Jul 1, 2013 at 17:17
  • Could the downvoter please leave a comment ...
    – teylyn
    Jun 29, 2016 at 3:05

To ostracize, “To exclude (a person) from society or from a community, by not communicating with them or by refusing to acknowledge their presence; to refuse to talk to or associate with; to shun” may be a good choice. Note, to shun is “To avoid, especially persistently”.

Also consider snub, “To slight, ignore or behave coldly toward someone” and proscribe, “To banish or exclude”. Banish means “To send someone away and forbid that person from returning”; the banishment aspect of proscription is less important than the exclusion aspect, for the current question.

The expression send to Coventry means giving the silent treatment to someone; for example, when Mr. Grainger says (in the “Forward Mr. Grainger” episode of Are You Being Served?) “You're not sending me to Coventry, are you?” and gets no reply from his coworkers.

As suggested in Hellion's comment, silent treatment (“A form of social sanction that consists of ignoring a particular individual, neither speaking to that person nor responding to his or her words”) is worthy of notice. Wiktionary shows the following example:

Finally we gave him the silent treatment, and for weeks before he died we neither spoke to him nor did he speak to us. – 1917, Jack London, “That Dead Men Rise Up Never”

  • "Giving them the silent treatment" is probably worthy of inclusion in its own right, rather than only as the meaning of some other idiom....
    – Hellion
    Jul 1, 2013 at 21:27
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    I really like snub. There are more ways to snub a person than by ignoring them, but I think this comes closest to what the OP intended. Jan 1, 2018 at 0:51

I think to blank would fit the bill quite well too, although I like snub.

3 British informal deliberately ignore (someone):
  I just blanked them and walked out

Oxford English Dictionary


There's a somewhat old-fashioned usage of the word "cut" that means to ignore someone deliberately in a social situation.

For example, see the last section (heading: The "Cut Direct") of this page from an etiquette manual.


Depending on the context, dismiss works well.

During the team selection, John was routinely dismissed by the two teams' captains.

Also passed-over (in the same context).


Shine [someone] on as in:

I've been trying all day to talk to him about the money but he just keeps shining me on.


Sent to Coventry :)

Not a single word, but a good idiom. From a Wikipedia article on the phrase:

To send someone to Coventry is an idiom used in England meaning to deliberately ostracise someone. Typically, this is done by not talking to them, avoiding their company, and acting as if they no longer exist. In essence, and by modern parlance, to ‘blank’ someone.

  • 5
    Welcome to ELU.SE. We endeavour to provide high-quality, useful answers. An example of how this expression is used, and perhaps a note of its origin, would be really useful for non-Brits who may not be familiar with it.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 16, 2014 at 8:37
  • Could you please add a source, an explanation, examples... Jul 16, 2014 at 11:03

It’s not so common any more but cut.

To ignore as a social rebuff or snub.

“At first it had been very painful to him to meet any of his old friends, but this soon passed; either they cut him, or he cut them; it was not nice being cut for the first time or two, but after that, it became rather pleasant than not.” — Samuel Barber, The Way of All Flesh Chapter 73

(Chapter 73? How long is the book?)

  • Already given as an answer by Jacob Mattison, Michael. Jan 27 at 13:13
  • Yeah, but that was 10 years ago... Jan 28 at 3:54

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