When you are so mad at someone that you make a bad decision, even though you will be harmed by it as well, in order to harm that person; is there a good term for this?

For example burning $100 because he owns $20 of it.

  • making a mountain out of a mole hill? acting out of spite?
    – virmaior
    Feb 13, 2014 at 6:37
  • Should that term be strictly for an illogical action or can it mean merely the act of losing something in order to gain advantage over an adversary ?
    Feb 13, 2014 at 10:06

4 Answers 4


"Cutting off your nose to spite your face" comes close to what you are describing.

  • The ultimate example, a suicide bomber.
    – bib
    Feb 13, 2014 at 0:27
  • This is it exactly. Feb 13, 2014 at 10:21
  • @bib I prefer to call suicide bombers "natural selection".
    – jwenting
    Feb 13, 2014 at 12:08

For a single word, you can consider spite, which means to go out of one's way to harm another for a perceived wrong.

In other words, it means to do something unnecessary (which means there is a cost) to harm another for what may be no legitimate reason at all.

An example is the spite fence. This is a fence that is put up for no other reason than to annoy a neighbor. It is generally done so at some cost to the one putting it up (for the material or at least the for labor).

  • 1
    +1 This is the correct answer; This is exactly what the word spite is good for.
    – user867
    Feb 13, 2014 at 4:31
  • 2
    Disagree - "spite" doesn't imply any harm to the doer, only the recipient.
    – nobody
    Feb 13, 2014 at 5:32
  • I agree with @Andrew. You could burn his $100 out of spite without necessarily doing anything to harm your own money. Feb 13, 2014 at 10:22

A Pyrrhic victory. The Greek King Pyrrhus was ruined beating the Romans.

  • Pyrrhus did not intentionally destroy his army to spite the Romans, and it was not "worth it" for him to incur grave losses just so that he could inflict minor ones on his enemy. So the situation described is manifestly not a Pyrrhic victory.
    – choster
    Feb 13, 2014 at 6:13
  • @choster, what if he amends it to seeking a Pyrrhic victory? Admittedly that's not what happened to Pyrrhus but the contemporary use of the term seems to include something worse than what he did. Let me burn your eyes with this sentence: Pyrrhus victory is a pyrrhich victory not only because he lost his best generals in winning but because it leaves us remembering him for something he did not do and which does not do justice to his nobility.
    – virmaior
    Feb 13, 2014 at 6:42
  • 2
    "Seeking a Pyrrhic victory" sounds like a particularly verbose way of saying "stupid"
    – Shadur
    Feb 13, 2014 at 8:19

If spite is not quite a good fit, then I would say "collateral damage".

This is when you inflict harm upon yourself in the attempt to attack your enemy.

  • 1
    Not necessarily. A third person could be collateral damage. In fact, I would argue it's used that way more than meaning damage to yourself. Feb 13, 2014 at 10:22

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