I was trying to describe a man who entices others into making bad decisions. I have several closely related questions:

  1. Is it okay in English to refer to a man as a temptress?

  2. Is there a uniquely male version of temptress?

  3. Is there a good strategy or rule for changing words like temptress into their male equivalents — if those exist?

  • 11
    Seducer, charmer, debaucher.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 18, 2015 at 23:54
  • 15
    temptress / female; tempter / male
    – user98990
    Mar 18, 2015 at 23:58
  • 8
    +1. Yes, Matt, people tend to interpret certain words used in your OP ie, "seduce", "temptress", exclusively with "sexual" enticement. And because I read your OP as a request for a term not specifically sexual I didn't go for the typical "seducer" angle, i.e., Don Juan etc. You might want consider editing your post to clarify that you are seeking a general, rather than a specifically sexual, term for a man who tempts others into making bad decisions.
    – user98990
    Mar 19, 2015 at 6:18
  • 3
    Moreover, the choice of temptress is clearly wrong as the question does not relate to the usual meaning of that word. The question itself may need to be rewritten.
    – Kris
    Mar 19, 2015 at 6:21
  • 5
    I don't believe there is any single word (either for male or female). Instead, there are a number of words, and which one (if any) is appropriate depends on factors such as what sort of decisions we're talking about, the person's motivations, and the person's methods. "Temptress" is only appropriate when the method used is sexual attraction, for example. Mar 19, 2015 at 18:56

12 Answers 12


-ess is, in fact, a feminine suffix. The male or neuter form (English tends to conflate the two) would be tempter. As a note, the title The Tempter, with capital letters, is given to the Devil.

A person who tempts in a sexual fashion might be called a seducer (seductress if female).

  • 2
    There used to be a coquet to go along with the coquettes. Actually, I rather think a few of those might still be around. :)
    – tchrist
    Mar 19, 2015 at 0:38
  • 3
    Sadly, the OP does not seem to be referring to that kind of a person ;) at all. The fault is with the way the question is frame, though.
    – Kris
    Mar 19, 2015 at 6:21
  • @Kris The OP did say seduce not trick, eh now?
    – tchrist
    Mar 19, 2015 at 14:18

A mythological creature called succubus is described as the ultimate temptress, using sexual seduction to lure its prey. The male counterpart, incubus, similarly uses sexual seduction to lure in prey. These terms can be used to describe seductive people whose ultimate goal is self-serving or else makes no consideration for the wellbeing of the person being seduced.

Similar mythological creatures with less sexual overtones include sirens and will-o-wisps. These are less about seducing and more about distracting or enchanting their prey, but you could still use these terms to suggest the meaning you're looking for.

  • 1
    Do note many people will wrongly associate incubus with incubator, which has nothing to do with the intent of OP.
    – Mast
    Mar 20, 2015 at 15:04
  • 4
    too bad so sad for those who are easily confused by the English language. i'd go with incubus.
    – Randy L
    Mar 21, 2015 at 18:10
  • @Mast - I am shocked by the Google NGram for succubus vs incubus. Apparently, the latter is significantly more common than the former, when I would have expected the reverse.
    – Bobson
    Mar 23, 2015 at 4:07
  • 2
    @Bobson I suspect the difference is because of the band Incubus, not because the mythological creature is better-known. In fact, I'd wager fully half the people familiar with the Incubus in modern-day USA heard it first on Supernatural. Mar 23, 2015 at 5:55
  • @gatherer818 - That makes a lot of sense. It definitely explains the uptick since 1999.
    – Bobson
    Mar 23, 2015 at 11:06
                    Temptress / Feminine; Tempter / Masculine

OP also requests a description of "a man who entices others into making bad decisions"

Such an individual is sometimes referred to as a “Svengali

svengali n.: A person who manipulates or controls another, especially by force of personality for malicious purposes. See, the Free Dictionary svengali

  • 1
    As per your recommendation, I actually switched the quoted section in your answer. Is Svengali a proper noun?
    – Matt
    Mar 19, 2015 at 16:55
  • Not in this usage.
    – user98990
    Mar 19, 2015 at 20:22
  • 3
    Worth noting for reference that svengali can be seen as an anti-Semitic term. Mar 19, 2015 at 22:35
  • 4
    @Garry - yes, I became aware of that as I researched the answer. Because I'd heard the term, from time to time, all my life - without anti-Semitic intent - I chose to go ahead with it because it doesn't have to be used with that repugnant connotation. I'm not an "anti-people" person and find myself strongly attracted to all underdogs, being such a "dog", myself.
    – user98990
    Mar 20, 2015 at 2:57
  • 1
    @LittleEva, In an effort to avoid potentially offensive speech (though temptress already walks the line a little bit) I think I'm going to go ahead and select on of the other answers. Your input has been very helpful, though, in determining the specifics of how to ask my question. Thank you!
    – Matt
    Mar 20, 2015 at 16:36

If you mean bad financial or professional decisions, the word you're looking for might be charlatan:

A person practising quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception. (Wikipedia)

A similar word is huckster:

A pejorative for a person who sells something or serves biased interests, using pushy or showy tactics. (Wikipedia)


My suggestion would be "Lothario"

"a man who obsessively seduces and deceives women."



Try Pied Piper:

The Pied Piper of Hamelin [...] is the subject of a legend concerning the departure or death of a great number of children from the town of Hamelin (Hameln), Lower Saxony, Germany, in the Middle Ages. The earliest references describe a piper, dressed in multicolored ("pied") clothing, leading the children away from the town never to return. In the 16th century the story was expanded into a full narrative, in which the piper is a rat-catcher hired by the town to lure rats away with his magic pipe. When the citizenry refuses to pay for this service, he retaliates by turning his power that he put in his instrument on their children, leading them away as he had the rats.


Out on the streets in these impoverished areas east of the Tigris River, they are like Pied Pipers, leading a trail of dozens of children behind them within minutes of arriving in a neighborhood.

But before I get to genuflecting villagers, let me talk about my role as a Pied Piper.

No wonder a succession of diet experts have become the Pied Pipers of the modern age.

(Definition from Wikipedia; example sentences from Oxforddictionaries.com)

  • Great answer. This is the word I'd use, and I have used it in similar situations.
    – Zoot
    Mar 20, 2015 at 20:24
  • Who can account for the vicissitudes of taste or public opinion?
    – user98990
    Mar 21, 2015 at 4:23

A snake-oil salesman would deceitfully tempts you into taking a bad decision ( buying or doing something).

  • It generally refers to a person that is pushing a product that is deemed to be overhyped at best, and fraudulent at worst but, but it may be figuratively used to refer to someone you deceitfully tempts you into doing somethnig that is not in your interest but just in his own.

A pickup artist perhaps?

A pickup artist (commonly abbreviated PUA) is a person who practices finding, attracting, and seducing sexual partners. Such a person purportedly abides by a certain system deemed effective by that community in their attempts to seduce partners.


Con artist. If you must have the male gender, consider conman or con man, or give props to Melville by using Confidence-Man.


If you're looking for an adjective to use in a specifically sexual context then I really like louche.

  • 1
    and louche means?
    – JMP
    Mar 21, 2015 at 16:21
  • 1
    that's a neat word. bit obscure or outdated though don't you think?
    – Randy L
    Mar 21, 2015 at 18:12

The term I usually hear is "Adonis", which comes from Greek mythology. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adonis

However, this term is not common.

  • Where in that wiki does it say anything about an Adonis "enticing others into making bad decisions"?
    – J.R.
    Mar 22, 2015 at 11:26

Lothario, giggolo, kokopelli - take your pick.


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