Is there a word for someone who does all of the work? Or for the person who is exploited when someone else steals the credit?

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  • Mongo only pawn in game of life. He does quite a bit of the work, but not if it involves thinking. – FumbleFingers Apr 20 '15 at 0:49
  • Word for someone who does all the work within a team makes me think of the word mule. But then you stated that the credit is also stolen, which makes me think of a ghostwriter. I know these aren't the exact words for describing your situation, but I was wondering which one is closer to what you were trying to convey? – Mike Apr 20 '15 at 1:32
  • Ghostwriter is more related to writers etc. So if there were a more universal term for that word then it would probably be applicable to my situation. Thanks though. – baisst Apr 20 '15 at 5:01
  • 1
    Workhorse comes to mind. You could say "John is the only workhorse in the team. He does everything." Alternatively you could also say "Emma is the only contributor in workplace, everyone else slacks off" – 3kstc Apr 20 '15 at 5:22

Drudge comes to mind:


A person made to do hard menial or dull work:

she was little more than a drudge round the house


Depending on your particular context, you might be looking for Sherpa:

1.1 informal
A civil servant or diplomat who undertakes preparatory work prior to a summit conference.

  • Welcome to ELU! We are looking for authoritative sources to support your answer. – ScotM Apr 20 '15 at 20:50

Different phrases seem applicable to people in the two situations you name. For "someone who does all the work," I suggest the phrase little red hen—refering to the folk tale of the hen who can't get anyone to participate in the work of producing a loaf of bread until the work consists of eating the bread.

For "the person who is exploited when someone else steals the credit," however, I suggest the term stepping stone, which has this (nonliteral) meaning in Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003):

a means of progress or advancement

Unfortunately, in this case the stepping stone is the unrecognized worker, and the progress or advancement is made by the knave who walks all over the actual producer to get ahead.


One should not forget the obvious slave:

1.1 A person who works very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation:



Lackeys and flunkeys can be bullied into this by freeloaders and parasites (especially leeches), if they're naturally inclined to be a doormat or pushover. Such suckers, dupes and patsies can easily find themselves in the position of drudge or peon, with no reward for their toiling and plodding.


i have thought hard about this one. If you think of it, the term for the owner of the original work never changes. It is still their work if it has been plagiarised or stolen, and therefore I would imagine that creator would be a suitable word. Hope this helps.


The phrase "muscle behind the project" works well, especially in spoken form.


To steal a world from the gaming world, how about "carry". This is used in exactly the way you describe. Even though it can be used as a verb (to carry), it is also used a noun (the person carrying the team is the carry).

Example from UrbanDictionary

In Halo 2 and Halo 3, the action of winning on a team slayer game by getting more than 75% of the kills on your team because everyone else on your team sucks.


"Dogsbody". Maybe only in BrE, I wouldn't know.

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