When someone has unreasonable expectations and feels that he is owed by others, this trait is described as a "sense of entitlement". But how do you refer to the person who has this trait other than calling him "a person with a sense of entitlement"?

If there is no single word to describe this kind of character, can you suggest a few equivalent phrases for "a person with a sense of entitlement"?

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    Geoff Nunberg wrote a book about it. Dec 29, 2014 at 17:40
  • Just FYI, there is a use of the term "entitlement" in business to mean that part of sales that will presumably occur, even if the business makes no effort at sales or promotion. Kind of a stupid term, I think, but the suits like it. (But then they're into entitlement anyway.)
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 30, 2014 at 1:42

8 Answers 8


You can use "entitled" as an adjective; if the context is right it is implied that this refers to an unreasonable expectation of entitlement.

Here is an example of this word being used this way, found via Wordnik:

I swear these flippin entitled Americans need to just shut the heck up and get what's taken 60 years to make happen and I'm including the public option.

–"Chris - Seattle", September 10, 2009 at 4:23 pm, comment on "In selling health care, Obama's numbers pick may be telling", CNN

  • I was about to downvote this answer as I believed it to be a marginal-to-mythical usage. However, I performed the usual few clicks and quickly found a dictionary giving the sense required here. If your answer quoted that authority, I'd upvote. Dec 29, 2014 at 9:27
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    @EdwinAshworth - I just looked in 5 dictionaries without finding a single one defining entitled this way, yet I know it's an acceptable and current usage. +1 from me even if no definition can be found (by me at least!) Also, please direct me to a better dictionary!!! I obviously am in need! Dec 29, 2014 at 9:37
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    Google has: entitled ... adjective ... believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. >> The example they give is unconvincing, though, as it uses 'feel', which doesn't support this sense. // But I can't upvote this answer now. Dec 29, 2014 at 9:47
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    Also, entitled may be used simply to mean deserving in its plain sense, as in "You're entitled to your opinion." So I don't think it's the best fit.
    – Robusto
    Dec 29, 2014 at 15:47

Since you are referring to unreasonable expectations I think you may describe this person as assuming:

  • presumptuous; arrogant.

  • expecting too much; presumptuous; arrogant

(from TFD)

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    +1. I think presumptuous is the best word here. I wouldn't use arrogant as that means something else.
    – WS2
    Dec 29, 2014 at 10:40

Spoiled comes to mind - assuming that you look on entitlement negatively, as is now typically the case in the US.

[There was a time (I'd guess up until, say, the Ronnie Ray-gun era) when entitled meant what it said: the person deserves X, as in s?he has worked to merit a pension or s?he is entitled to respectful treatment because s?he is human. Now it seems that the suggestion is quite the opposite: that the person does not deserve X but somehow thinks s?he does or somehow obtained an official but illegitimate (in the eyes of the one judging) claim to it. At first it was innuendo or mocking: we know that the person is not really entitled to X (wink). Nowadays, it seems that this is the only meaning left. Sigh. And yes, IMHO, sense of entitlement, which is clearly an objectionable attitude, bleeds onto the meaning of entitlement itself, poisoning it.]

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    I'd say there's a difference between being entitled and feeling entitled. The former is fine; the latter is viewed negatively. For example, you are entitled to a fair trial if you commit a crime, but a teenager only feels entitled to an iPhone.
    – Nicole
    Feb 25, 2015 at 16:36
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    @Nicole. You should feel entitled to a fair trial. Is it wrong to feel that you deserve your salary because you worked for it? Your pension? National health insurance? An 8-hour day? Minimum wage? Public health system? In France, we call such things "acquired rights". In anglosaxon countries, a certain class likes to convince those who fought hard for such things (or whose grandparents did) that these are in fact undeserved privileges, and that they are as spoiled as a whiny teenager for claiming them. That's really what this is about - it's really not about a teenager and an iPhone.
    – Drew
    Feb 25, 2015 at 22:46

An entitlement attitude is one of the most significant hallmarks of a narcissist - that is, someone suffering a narcissistic personality disorder, destructive narcissistic personality disorder (watch out for those - they can do real harm!), or even someone who has "narcissistic traits" (as opposed to the full-blown personality disorder). Much has been written about narcissists in recent years and the term, rightly or wrongly, has come to be synonymous with a person who believes that they are entitled to special treatment and privileges at all times.


I'd call him a leech. He attaches himself to society and then takes and takes and takes. He never gives, he only takes. Why? Because he thinks he's entitled to do so.


This is a high maintenance person. The Free Dictionary defines a HMP as

informal (of a person) requiring a high level of care and attention; demanding

The Urban Dictionary, which is an appropriate dictionary for this phrase says:

Has higher than normal expectations; has a greater requirement for affection or attention; has more needs and/or demands and therefore more difficult or challenging. Doesn't equate to money or material possessions alone but may be needy in emotional attention and affection;picky, bratty, likes things her way, takes pride in her appearance, finicky. Usually very well put together and usually independent therefore requiring a lot out of a man to keep up with her.

"If you have to reassure her through texts email or calls that you're lucky to have her, she's so pretty, etc...- she's a high maintenance woman"

My own definition of a high maintenance person is one for whom you have spend a great deal of time, creativity and emotional energy not merely to keep her happy, but just to keep her not too obviously unhappy.

Say you are walking with her in the rain and encounter a mud puddle. You go into Sir Walter Rahleigh mode and spread your coat over the puddle. She will step on the coat, complain that you should have picked a better route, expect you to produce shoe polish of the right color immediately and be irritated that the color of your coat did not work well with the color of her shoes.

How does she get away with it? She can be amusing enough to induce amnesia until the next time.


I'd call such a person a jerk, but I suppose you're looking for something more formal.


Snobbish people are often snooty.

Snobbish at MW:

having or showing the attitude of people who think they are better than other people : of or relating to people who are snobs

Snooty at MW:

having or showing the insulting attitude of people who think that they are better, smarter, or more important than other people

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