I'm looking for a word to describe someone who is being used. I want a noun to describe this person, not a verb or or adjective. Maybe like a pushover.

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    I disagree with this being marked as duplicate. Being used and being picked on are different things. The up-voted answer (full disclosure, my answer), sucker and patsy, do not describe someone being picked on.
    – Henry74
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 23:01

11 Answers 11


A pawn can be somebody who's being pushed around, or used for somebody else's benefit, often without being aware of it:

  • a person, group, etc, manipulated by another
  • Good answer. It goes to show, the right word really depends on the way the person is being used. I think of pawn in the context of political intrigue.
    – Henry74
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 23:05

Patsy. Although this is specific to accountability being transferred unfairly, as in someone taking the blame for someone else's crime.

Sucker. This is pretty good for many cases.

Neither apply to a romantic relationship, though. If that's what you're looking for.

  • +1 for sucker. That's the most common way to describe such a person.
    – seismatica
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 21:37
  • Patsy was the first thing that came to mind.
    – primo
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 16:40

Perhaps doormat, as in "(s)he's walking all over you".

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    My first and instinctive thought, too. Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 8:22

A tool--one that is used or manipulated by another. e.g. 'Anastasius was a willing tool of the Roman Empire.

  • +1 Not all uses of 'being used' need to be negative.
    – Frank
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 8:52
  • Your comment is not inconsistent with my answer.
    – user3847
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 17:27
  • @user3847 (He preceded with +1 to show agreement; and I agree as well... +1!)
    – Jason C
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 4:52
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    I think the word "tool" more often implies a negative interpretation. A similar word with a more positive spin might be "instrument." I.e. "He was an instrument of the Lord." Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 14:08
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    "Tool" when applied to a person may also be a derogatory term that refers to a slang word for "penis". So be careful. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 16:11

There is cat's-paw as a noun. It has the sense of being exploited.

A person used by another as a dupe or tool.

The etymology of this term suggests an interesting story about how a monkey tricks a cat by using the cat:

Cat's paw (1769, but cat's foot in the same sense, 1590s) refers to old folk tale in which the monkey tricks the cat into pawing chestnuts from a fire; the monkey gets the nuts, the cat gets a burnt paw.

As you can see in the above definition of cat's-paw, you can use dupe and tool also depending on the context.


According to context, also a scapegoat may fit your description:

  • a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.


  • (Bible) Old Testament a goat used in the ritual of Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16); it was symbolically laden with the sins of the Israelites and sent into the wilderness to be destroyed.

Source: Collins Dictionary


Guinea pig- It is person or thing used as a subject for experiment or it can be someone subject of research, experimentation, or testing.

Colloquially, we use guinea pig as someone we used to test or try something, or to get through a circumstance using them as expedient.


I haven't seen fall-guy or victim among the answers yet.

I agree with several others here that it totally depends on context what the best word would be.


host may be appropriate and the user(s) would then be pest(s).


'The fallguy'--40's film noir slang for one who is set up to take the rap for a crime. I suppose the term could be extended to persons becoming a 'scapegoat' for a failure in business dealings. Sam Spade's closing remark to Brigid O'Shaugnessy in the Maltese Falcon: 'You're taking the fall.'


Employee to make this post at least 30 characters long, I shall say it again. Employee.

  • 6
    Instead of referring to the 30 char limit you could insert a dictionary definition which seconds your statement.
    – Em1
    Commented Jul 15, 2014 at 9:00

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