Scenario: Someone publicly says, "We have made a decision" in reference to an important choice, but no matter how many people ask what the decision was, the person does not say. Later, when asked about why they refused to disclose what their decision was they reply with "Because I don't want everyone to know."

Question: Is there a word that conveys 'keeping someone wondering purposely' or describes a type of person who does?

Note: I am aware that a**hole fits nicely as an answer, but I'm looking for something a tad classier.

  • I believe the context of my scenario may have been misinterpreted. This isn't as if "the public" was waiting for a hiring manager to make a decision, as one might with a job opening, but rather someone who simple says "We have made a decision" out of the blue, then not saying what it was. Martin Luther King publicly saying "I have a dream" and then thanking everyone for being so supportive of him without telling them what his dream is. Or a person who asks if you want to hear a joke, then says "a guy walks into a bar" and then leaves without telling the punch line. Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 22:36
  • Sounds as though Brexit means Brexit...
    – BoldBen
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 14:25

10 Answers 10


You could try tantalize, with some care.1

  • I was going to go with this as the answer, but decided against it for the same reason I couldn't go with provocative- Too heavily associated with erotica. Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 22:59
  • 1
    @Josh: If you avoid all words that are used in an erotic context, you might as well take a vow of silence. Commented Dec 25, 2013 at 12:05
  • 1
    You were correct Tim. My original review of 'tantalize' in Webster revealed "to cause (someone) to feel interest or excitement about something that is very attractive, appealing, etc.", which, in my haste, incorrectly associated with 'flirtatious'. A more thorough review of your answer revealed "torment or tease (someone) with the sight or promise of something that is unobtainable," which is exactly what I was looking for. Please for forgive my misconception. Commented Dec 26, 2013 at 11:30

You could say that he is leaving you hanging. The idiom leave hanging can mean

to keep someone waiting for a decision or answer

As the cite notes, you also could say twisting in the wind.


evasive adjective:

tending to avoid commitment or self-revelation, esp. by responding only indirectly.

She was evasive about her phone number.

synonyms: equivocal, prevaricating, elusive, ambiguous, noncommittal, vague, inexplicit, unclear; roundabout, indirect; informal: cagey, shifty, slippery

The judge was infuriated by the defendant's evasive answers.

closemouthed: cautious in speaking, uncommunicative; secretive, close, secretive, dark, reticent, tight-lipped, uncommunicative


Coy - one definition of the word is "someone who could give a definite answer but won't." Vocabluarly.com


Noncommittal and disingenuous are possibilities (1,2), and to some extent reticent (3). Also cagey (4), nonforthcoming (see sense 3 of forthcoming), hedgy (5), obfuscatory (6), and (to a small extent) “economical with the truth” (7).


"Hanging on to the other shoe"


Vacillate- (alternate or waver between different opinions or actions; be indecisive.)

Thought this might be useful. Making someone wait based on a decision to be made.

  • 1
    Definitions (with citations) would help the user decide whether these terms fit their meaning. Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 2:11

"enigmatically" might be applied to a statement or assertion like that. It carries with it the intention of not being clear and without explaining.


If this happens in a corporate environment and happens quite often, you can describe the situation as mushroom treatment/management.

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