Is there a word or phrase for doing a favour or helping someone because you are in a better position than they are to get it done?

For example, it would take me a lot longer to herd some cattle than it would for a cowboy to, so this word/phrase would apply if I asked the cowboy to help me (but not if I asked someone equally or less capable than myself). Or, for instance, I might walk to the shop for my grandmother because she's elderly, but not for my brother because I'm in no better position to that than he is.

Is there a phrase to summarise this kind of situation?


6 Answers 6


I would use the word utilitarianism. Altruism may be also another good fit. The person who behaves in such way is called either an utilitarian or an altruist.

According to Collins (http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/utilitarianism#utilitarianism_1)


noun (ethics):

1) the doctrine that the morally correct course of action consists in the greatest good for the greatest number, that is, in maximizing the total benefit resulting, without regard to the distribution of benefits and burdens

Also according to Collins (http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/altruism)



1) the principle or practice of unselfish concern for the welfare of others
2) the philosophical doctrine that right action is that which produces the greatest benefit to others

  • I like it, just have to figure out the pronunciation now :) May 28, 2015 at 10:06

The cowboy in your example is known as the right man for the job (eventually this has been vitiated into the right person for the job).

So, while you may struggle herding cattle, when a cowboy comes along, he is clearly the right man for the job.


You might call the person who fills this role the "go-to person" or the "helper of first resort" for the individual in need of help. But obviously the person supplying the help doesn't have the formal status of, say, a "first responder" such as an emergency medical technician, a police officer, or a fire fighter, so there may not be a more precise term for someone in that situation.


I think Good Samaritan should be appropriate.


Pay it forward. Grandma used to change your diaper; you could at least go buy her some. She deserves to reap the rewards of the karma she's earned from paying forward unto you.


You sort of described a barter system, where people trade their skills/goods for others' skills/goods. Or perhaps a utopia where each member employs their specialty to contribute to the community.

Alternatively, you requested phrases or words to describe the concept.


  • Using your power for good
  • Using your skills for charity
  • Employing your abilities for pro bono work
  • Sharing your talent
  • Trading talent-for-talent


  • Charity
  • Pro bono
  • Altruism
  • Alms-giving
  • Helping hand
  • Dole
  • Benefaction

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