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I'm looking for a term for someone who get kicks by being bossy, or getting people to do what they demand.

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    This question might be better if you included what you found when you looked up bossy in a thesaurus, and elaborated on why some of the better candidates in that list didn't meet your expectations. – J.R. Oct 31 '13 at 18:20
  • It's a symptom of assholic behavior. – John Lawler Oct 31 '13 at 19:39
  • "Project manager" – AndFisher Sep 27 '17 at 9:33
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A martinet is “Anyone who lays stress on a rigid adherence to the details of discipline, or to forms and fixed methods or rules”. It happens to be “a term for someone who get kicks by being bossy, or getting people to do what they demand”. Also consider despot, “A ruler with absolute power; a tyrant”, and dictator, “A totalitarian leader of a country, nation, or government” or “A tyrannical boss, or authority figure”. Both words may be figuratively applied. Tyrant, “An absolute ruler who governs without restriction” or “An oppressive, cruel and harsh person” may be slightly less applicable.

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    Good suggestions. Bully might be appropriate too for some uses. – Bradd Szonye Oct 31 '13 at 19:40
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    Martinet surely is just about perfect. If you choose tyrant, a variant that might "turn the knife" a little is petty tyrant, which has a nice added overtone. – jbeldock Oct 31 '13 at 22:05
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    Also, there's authoritarian, which somehow doesn't seem to strike the right tone, or taskmaster. – jbeldock Oct 31 '13 at 22:07
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My reservation with "martinet" is that the martinet might get kicks out of the conformance to rules and routines, not from being bossy. Obsessively enforcing discipline is not the same as being bossy.

A bossy person might be on a power trip. Apparently the American Heritage® Dictionary (and thousands of Google results) indicate that power tripper is a word, but by ngrams it is several orders of magnitude less common than the former.

My sister's coworker once referred to a colleague as Il Duce, but that's about two steps away from calling somebody Hitler.

**

Regarding the note in the comments below,

I would call her a sadist (somebody who gets pleasure from making others unhappy). Because of gender stereotypes, there are also a bunch of other 'bossy' words for women. Harridan came to mind, which means 'a strict, bossy, or belligerent old woman' and which Google also linked to the synonyms shrew, virago, harpy, termagant, vixen, nag, hag, crone, dragon, ogress; fishwife, hellcat, she-devil, fury, gorgon, martinet, tartar, spitfire; (informal) old bag, old bat, old trout, old cow, bitch, battleaxe, witch; (rare) scold, Xanthippe

Of these I think only battleax might fit the bill.

  • That's interesting - here's the backstory for the word. I was looking for an appropriate word to describe a flight attendant who was overzealous about having a passenger turn off his computer. I mentioned that she seemed to derive pleasure from forcing him to turn off his computer when she asked. What do you think of martinet in this context? And sorry not to provide before! – YPCrumble Nov 1 '13 at 23:11
  • @YPCrumble See edits above. – Merk Nov 2 '13 at 3:17
  • YPCrumble If you had provided the context many of the suggested answers would have been immediately discarded. I thought you were talking about a company manager or boss. In this case, your expression, over zealous, fits the flight attendant's behaviour quite perfectly – Mari-Lou A Nov 2 '13 at 6:55
  • Its called trying to implement flight regulations with belligerent passengers who think their needs are greater than the safety of all a.k.a. doing her job! – Bethany O'Brien Sep 17 '18 at 17:19
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Bossy - adjective - fond of giving people orders; domineering

Synonyms: domineering, pushy, overbearing, imperious, officious, high-handed, authoritarian, dictatorial, controlling, tyrannical, despotic

If you're looking for a noun instead of an adjective, dictator, despot or tyrant all fit pretty nicely.

  • There it is! I wondered why it took so long to come up with "Bossy", since it fits perfectly. Even if it is a bit prosaic. One might want a more intellectual-sounding word, just for grins. – Cyberherbalist Oct 31 '13 at 19:46
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EDIT

I was looking for an appropriate word to describe a flight attendant who was overzealous about having a passenger turn off his computer. I mentioned that she seemed to derive pleasure from forcing him to turn off his computer when she asked.

In this context I would suggest that the flight attendant might be considered;

Or, that the attendant harassed the passenger needlessly.

A harassing flight attendant took pleasure in exerting her authority.

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Taskmaster One who imposes tasks, especially burdensome or laborious ones and a person, discipline, etc., that enforces work, esp hard or continuous work.

From Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

A better proof of the severity of my bondage to that taskmaster could scarcely be afforded, than the degrading shifts to which I was constantly driven to find him employment.

By the same author; A Christmas Carol

pitiless taskmaster that he was, Ebenezer Scrooge only reluctantly let his ill-paid clerk have Christmas Day off

protected by MetaEd Sep 17 '18 at 18:10

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