In a way like a slave master. More though like say someone who had robots do all their work and they were never themselves productive and had no drive. If you've read R.U.R. you'll understand the question better. I'm looking for a word with more definition than just lazy.

Update 1: It think I may actually go with drone if anything. I think that definition fits what I'm looking for the best. I also liked the definition of the British term layabout that one person mentioned, but I will probably use drone. Thanks for all the help and sorry if I was confusing or unclear.

Update 2: I needed this word for use in an essay I was writing which I have now handed in. Thanks for the help guys. No more suggestions needed.

  • 10
    And, a boss doesn't fit?
    – David M
    Mar 19, 2014 at 3:52
  • 2
    Lovely - I found this preprints.readingroo.ms/RUR/rur.pdf and will read it
    – mplungjan
    Mar 19, 2014 at 10:26
  • 2
    @ElliottFrisch: I interpret Wells differently and wouldn't consider the Eloi comparable to 'slave-masters': they are being maintained in their existence as a food source for the Morlocks and I don't think they make an active choice in that.
    – aaren
    Mar 19, 2014 at 12:05
  • 3
    If you have chosen drone then please award that answer by ticking the green check mark.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 19, 2014 at 12:18
  • 3
    I think drone would be the robots that did the work, not the head of the robots. I understand it has multiple definitions but it does not work in this situation because "drones" in the robotics world do all the work. Mar 19, 2014 at 13:48

15 Answers 15


A delegator. Please find the definition and edit my answer.

  • 11
    @DavidM - Thanks. See I am a delegator. You are an honorable delegate. Mar 19, 2014 at 4:04
  • 1
    Yeah . . . I got it afterwards. Slow on the uptake tonight.
    – David M
    Mar 19, 2014 at 4:04
  • 1
    I was actually typing in Chronic Delegator when you posted it.
    – David M
    Mar 19, 2014 at 4:05
  • 1
    @DavidM - Yea but you did it. That is what counts. I am in Singapore this week and haven't adjusted yet. Mar 19, 2014 at 4:05
  • I voted this up, but it is actually not the answer to the question as stated.
    – mplungjan
    Mar 19, 2014 at 8:20

taskmaster noun

: a person who assigns work to other people

: one that imposes a task or burdens another with labor

"Taskmaster" can be used gender-neutral but there is taskmistress also.

Example usages:

  • They set taskmasters over us in order to oppress us with our burdens.
  • The soul, the higher self, is not a hard taskmaster.
  • Parents can be tough taskmasters in seeking the best for their children, as many of you may know.

Note: There is a connotation of "assigning" in this word.

After your explanations, these might fit: (Including slang words from different English speaking countries. You might check thesaurus for these words as well.)

drone: An idle person who lives off others; a loafer.

skiver: (British, slang) a person who persistently avoids work or responsibility

bludger: (Australian & New Zealand, informal)

  • a person who avoids work

  • a person in authority regarded as ineffectual by those working under him

goof-off: (Slang) One who shirks work or responsibility.


In British English you have the word, layabout, a person who habitually does little or no work. It comes from the idea of someone who lacks the energy or will to even stand and do any chores, preferring to spend their days between lying in bed or on the sofa.

A layabout is usually referred to unemployed people who are uninterested in finding a job; lazy teenagers; and husbands who do nothing in the house all day.

She regretted ever asking that layabout to be her roommate, as he created the mess of two people and refused to help with anything

In answer to the question title

Is there a word for someone who has others do all their work for them?

this is trickier. The question implies that this person is idle, lazy and in the fortunate position of having more than one person available to perform these duties or jobs. The word, boss, a tongue-in-cheek solution which was suggested in the comment section, doesn't quite fit. Although a boss may delegate duties and give orders, this doesn't exclude the employer from being hardworking and conscientious him/herself.

The OP is looking for the equivalent of slave master or slaveholder, a person who owns a group of people who are deprived of the right to leave, are forced to obey and perform any job or work the slaveholder sees fit, without pay. To this day slaveholders still exist, in 2005, the International Labour Organization provided an estimate of 12.3 million forced labourers in the world and

A report by the Walk Free Foundation in 2013, found India had the highest number of slaves, nearly 14 million, followed by China (2.9 million), Pakistan (2.1 million)

So either expression may be used very effectively and both are, logically, derogatory terms.

A more figurative equivalent of slave master/slaveholder would be slave driver, someone who makes people work very hard, in other words a demanding, unyielding taskmaster.
The new boss is a real slave driver

  • Two possible objections to "slave master" and "slave driver" are that (1) the power relationship is explicit, whereas OP is looking for something that fits a "master" who is not officially empowered to delegate but nevertheless does so through manipulation, which is not only unjust but also insidious in its own morally repugnant way; and (2) "slave master" and "slave driver" and a few other slavery-based metaphors have come to focus on the fact that the work required is excessive, not that it's inappropriate for the "master" to be assigning work in the first place.
    – Tom
    Apr 5, 2021 at 22:46

I'm looking for a word with more definition than just lazy

A shirker is a person who evades work, duty, responsibility, etc.

Often, this causes other people to do his work for him


How about a parasite and its synonyms

  • bloodsucker
  • deadbeat
  • freeloader
  • leech
  • scrounge
  • sponge

Update: I re-read the question and I see a difference between my suggestions and your question. I will leave the answer and think about it some more


A Goldbrick: someone or something that has a veneer of value but is in fact worthless. Applied to a person it describes appearing to be productive while in fact avoiding work.

  • i think this is the best one yet. old-timey but so apt.
    – Randy L
    Mar 20, 2014 at 15:43

A drone does not do any work. The worker bees do all the work and feed the drones. The drones just get fed without any personal effort. They just exist and act out their instincts with queen bee.

  • 3
    With bees, yes. I think the more common term that most people think of a "drone" as a worker who does simple, highly repetitive work. Such as "Bob is the photocopier drone. Hand him any documents you want copied and tell him how many and when." Mar 19, 2014 at 14:23

How about simply "upper-class"?

  • 2
    Downvoted, this isn't reddit.
    – Ed Griebel
    Mar 20, 2014 at 18:38

The 1%.

Middle Manager.

Pharisees - in the Bible, Jesus talks about them laying heavy burdens on the backs of others and not lifting a finger to help. Unfortunately, this word is usually interpreted as self righteous so it probably wouldn't work.

Skiver is a good one if slang will work.

From my construction days: Shovel leaner, clipboard man, the one with the clean white hard hat.

  • I'm pretty sure middle managers aren't synonymous with "the 1%."
    – Jack Ryan
    Mar 20, 2014 at 14:02

"Tom Sawyer" immediately came to mind when I read this. He's forced by his aunt Polly to whitewash her fence as penance for dirtying his clothes in a fight the previous day. He cons his friends into doing the work for him in exchange for "treasure" that they pay him for the privilege of doing so. He initially pretends that he's having a great time whitewashing the fence and won't let his friends help because he wants to do it on his own (because it's so much fun). Then he allows himself to be "bribed" so that they can enjoy the painting of the fence themselves.


Washington Irving's term was "busy idler." Always gives me a chuckle.

  • 1
    Is this the fellow you mean? Providing an exact quote for full context would improve this answer.
    – Patrick M
    Mar 19, 2014 at 19:37

Reading some of the requester's clarifying comments I wondered about "passenger", especially in a group activity or maybe a start-up business context. Often used in the phrase "no passengers", i.e. everyone must pull their weight and not just come along for the ride.

  • "Free-rider" is a phrase that's often used in the context of community benefits that necessarily are enjoyed by everyone, to describe people who contribute nothing but still expect to enjoy the benefit.
    – Tom
    Apr 5, 2021 at 22:36

I have heard "nonworking foreman" used to describe someone that gets to stand about while other people do the work.


tyrant? or a honcho? or a despot? or a supremo?

  • I'm not really looking for a word about them being in control or power, but more of something describing the lack of a point to their existence, being that they don't do anything are just take up space. I apologize if I'm being confusing. Mar 19, 2014 at 5:00
  • how about overbearer? Mar 19, 2014 at 5:33
  • honcho? supremo? These ones seem more Mexican rather than English words. Mar 20, 2014 at 16:57

I would like to offer a corporate term for this that goes beyond boss - project manager.

And then I would like to offer another term for someone that may be used in the context of controlling robots - mastermind.

plan and direct (an ingenious and complex scheme or enterprise).

  • Depending on the organization and it present level of staffing, project managers may delegate most/all of the work, do nearly all of it themselves, or something in between: hence my downvote on this suggestion. Mar 25, 2014 at 21:35
  • @JoanPederson - obviously people with the same title will have varying levels of work and job roles. If you are a project manager and doing "work" then you are probably a project manager and "whatever else you are doing". I was a project manager at a big company for 6 months. I did no actual work. It was a bit disparaging but any good project manager will tell you that if they do their job right they shouldn't have to do any work. Mar 25, 2014 at 21:41
  • @RyeBread - Happy you! Your experience was at a place where you could either control the scope of the tasks you were assigned to manage, or the extent of the staff and outside resources available to you, or both. Many project managers envy you those circumstances, which are not universally shared. Not "any" good project manager will tell you that, and no, it wasn't "a bit" disparaging. A bit uninformed or over-reliant on a limited sample, sure. Apr 2, 2014 at 2:18

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