I was wondering whether English has a phrase or an idiom for someone acting like a baby when subjected to criticism, as well as honest and negative assessment of their actions or personality. By "acting like a baby", I mean a conglomerate of being all offended, resentful, keeping interaction/answers to a minimum by, say, giving merely a "yes" or "no" when you'd normally engage with the person more, refusing to do things they normally would, and all-around passive-aggressive behavior towards those that criticized them.

It's hard to describe what I mean exactly, and if I were to translate directly from my language, it'd be "act like an offended/hurt bride". The word "sourpuss" perhaps comes close, but I don't think it truly captures the meaning. Something that also comes very close is the stereotypical behavior of teenage girls when grounded and then not wanting to talk to their parents, come out of their rooms etc. But this again is just something that comes close, but isn't exactly what I mean. Basically, just acting all offended when one shouldn't be, but should instead accept criticism like a grown-up. Which brings us back full circle to acting like a baby.

  • 3
    Whining and deigning. Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 5:38
  • 2
    @BlessedGeek, no, the "offended" person wouldn't whine at all, and I don't think deign fits the description either.
    – Ryker
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 5:40
  • 3
    I kinda like "acting like a baby".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 0:30
  • 1
    By the way, what exactly is wrong with my question that it warranted downvoting?
    – Ryker
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 2:07
  • 2
    There's no telling. I refer to such as "drive-by" downvoting and, as irritating as it is, it comes with the freedoms of the forum and can't be helped. So, don't let it bother you. Just carry on being true to yourself.
    – user98990
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 3:41

4 Answers 4


PETULANT adjective:

petulant (of a person or their manner) childishly sulky or bad-tempered. "he was moody and petulant"

Synonyms: peevish, bad-tempered, querulous, pettish, fretful, cross, irritable, sulky, snappish

From Google.com


Sulk; 3rd person present: sulks; past tense: sulked; past participle: sulked; gerund or present participle: sulking

1. be silent, morose, and bad-tempered out of annoyance or disappointment. "he was sulking over the breakup of his band"

Synonyms: mope, brood, be sullen, have a long face, be in a bad mood, be in a huff, be grumpy, be moody; informal be down in the dumps "Dad was sulking"

noun: sulk; plural noun: sulks

1. a period of gloomy and bad-tempered silence stemming from annoyance and resentment. "she was in a fit of the sulks"

synonyms: (bad) mood, fit of ill humor, fit of pique, pet, huff, (bad) temper

From Google.com

MOROSE adjective:

Sullen and ill-tempered.


sullen, sulky, gloomy, bad-tempered, ill-tempered, dour, surly, sour, glum, moody, ill-humored, melancholy, melancholic, brooding, broody, doleful, miserable, depressed, dejected, despondent, downcast, unhappy, low, down, grumpy, irritable, churlish, cantankerous, crotchety, cross, crabby, cranky, grouchy, testy, snappish, peevish,

From Google.com

  • You could add 'pouting' to your list too. :) FYI, your first instance of petulant is slightly misspelled.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 7:29
  • This page explains: “You can earn a maximum of 200 reputation per day from any combination of the activities below. Bounty awards, accepted answers, and association bonuses are not subject to the daily reputation limit”.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 7:40
  • 1
    +1 for sulking, which is more often associated with childishness. I wanted to post that one :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 8:09

I think this is the English word describing that behavior:

Sulk (third-person singular simple present sulks, present participle sulking, simple past and past participle sulked)

To express ill humor or offense by remaining sullenly silent or withdrawn.


to be angry or upset about something and to refuse to discuss it with other people



As previously mentioned, 'petulant' is the word you're looking for.

If you wanted something more idiomatic, you can refer to "throwing one's toys out of the pram"; overreacting or acting childishly to criticism or when things do not happen as you hoped they would.

(Slightly related is "to take one's bat and ball and go home", which is more frequently used to speak about someone who has reacted negatively to the suggestions/interventions of others).

  • Welcome to EL&U! We strive to provide objective and well-researched answers. I really like this answer (+1) but if you expand and provide evidence, this could become even better! Take the Tour and see How to Answer for more. Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 17:25

do you want to use wimpy? Yahoo defines 'wimpy kid' as 'Wimpy means feeble, frail, delicate, perhaps rather cowardly. A kid is a word for a child'


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.