What is the word that describes a person who uses other people, generally for personal gain, without anything given in return? Maybe through blatancy or through manipulation. I was using extortionist, but I know that's not correct. To further explain; someone who keeps a relationship only for the benefits it provides.

  • Probable duplicate of 'What do you call a manipulative person?', but further answers have been given here. Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 16:49
  • Maybe conniver? Can't check it now.
    – o0'.
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 21:46
  • Re: What do you call someone who is always asking for favors? My personal favorite: Help Vampire.
    – Mazura
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 0:56
  • It depends on the type of relationship we are talking about. A romantic, or a business relationship? Why is the other side motivated to be part of it? It could be forced, or the other side perecieves an to be given something in return? Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 2:34
  • @VolkerSiegel Romantic, not forced
    – Hellreaver
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 16:10

12 Answers 12


I would suggest leech:

  1. a person who clings to another for personal gain, especially without giving anything in return, and usually with the implication or effect of exhausting the other's resources; parasite.

There's parasite:

: a person or thing that takes something from someone or something else and does not do anything to earn it or deserve it
source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parasite

Along the same lines are freeloader, sponge, and mooch:

freeload: to get or ask for things (such as food, money, or a place to live) from people without paying for them

sponge: someone who gets something from someone else without doing or paying anything in return

mooch: to ask for and get things from other people without paying for them or doing anything for them (noun form can be either "mooch" or "moocher")
All definitions from http://www.m-w.com


A parasite:

  • One who habitually takes advantage of the generosity of others without making any useful return. (AHD)

or a sponger:

  • a person who lives off other people by continually taking advantage of their generosity; parasite or scrounger

The Free Dictionary


It is established in common dialect (Scottish - proper English) that a user is someone who uses another person to serve themselves heedlessly.

Simply using the word user might be straightforward enough! A word which springs to mind for me, due to my locale, is a skag - also someone who uses another person. Opportunist/parasite/freeloader.

Interestingly (some might say), skag also means Heroin. A skag (or skaghead) is a user (of Heroin), but the word spills over to refer to a person who takes advantages of others heedlessly. (Incidentally, it just so happens that long-term addicts of skag show tendency to display this behaviour).


In popular vernacular this person is simply called a


And because it's popular vernacular I'll cite Urban Dictionary:

user (n.) - a person who uses a friend or aquaintance solely for the purposes of gaining a type of advantage; whether it be:

1) when no one else is around, they need someone (like you) to take them places

2) someone who doesn't include you in any activities that they have with their friends, who you too, are friends with, yet YOU would invite him or her in a heart beat

3) a person who completely ignores you when he or she is with a group of people who may be cooler than you

4) a person who can call you ANYTIME and you would be there for them, and yet if you try to call him or her, they will not pick up; however, ONLY for using purposes he or she would pick up, like if he or she needs a RIDE somewhere (yet they would pick up their phone for any other person)

5) a person who constantly gives you excuses...when you know he or she is completely full of SHIT

and even after all this, this person still calls you their "friend"


You have a few more in similar context: sycophant:

  • A person who tries to please someone in order to gain a personal advantage
  • 1
    Good word, but I'm not sure if I agree with this one c:
    – HarryCBurn
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 21:35
  • 1
    That's a great word, but not what I'm looking for.
    – Hellreaver
    Commented Jun 16, 2015 at 18:03

Technically, that could be a psychopath.

Psychology Today:

The psychopath can appear normal, even charming. Underneath, they lack conscience and empathy, making them manipulative, volatile and often (but by no means always) criminal.

This article illustrates things to a degree:

As I wrote in a recent article on Gizmodo (link is external), when I first met tech guru John McAfee I was utterly charmed. He seemed to be living his life with a clarity and moral courage that I found exhilarating. The first article I wrote about him was effusive, and when I traveled to Belize to meet up with him for a second article, I looked forward to spending time with someone who I felt to be both intellectually and physically adventurous. On this second trip, however, I began to notice a troubling pattern. McAfee spent a lot of his time bragging about the hoaxes he’d pulled off, gleefully styling himself as a “bullshit artist.” Sometimes he lied for fun—like when he told a reporter that his tattoo was a Maori design he’d gotten in New Zealand, a country he’s never actually been to. Sometimes he lied strategically, like the Facebook posting he put up about how he’d just bought a house in Honduras. At the time, he was facing a raft of lawsuits. "The judge in one case couldn't understand why I would put incorrect information about myself on the web," he told me. "I said, 'I thought that if somebody wanted to serve me papers, it would be much more enjoyable for everyone involved if they tried to serve those papers to me in Honduras.'"

After I wrote an unflattering article about him, a number of people from McAfee’s past reached out to me and told me even more troubling stories. I became convinced that McAfee was not merely a disingenuous person but a true psychopath.

Schouten says that we should not be surprised to find psychopaths among the ranks of successful entrepreneurs like McAfee. Indeed, he emphasizes that psychopathic traits can be positively helpful. “Psychopathy could confer a competitive advantage, at least over the short term,” he says. “Grandiosity and over-the-top self-confidence, as well as skill at conning and manipulating, can go a long way toward convincing investors of one’s vision.”

  • It is not impossible, but the only connection is that it is less hard for a psychopath to behave as a parasite, without the annoying effect of the conscience, compared to someone else. Just as it is less hard for a deaf person to shoot people, without the annoying effect of the noise. Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 2:29
  • @VolkerSiegel - Actually, the main thing is that it's quite easy for a psychopath to manipulate other people, since a psychopath can so readily appear to be sincere when he isn't. Many CEOs and the like are psychopaths. (Honestly -- I'm not making this up.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 2:36
  • Hmm... actually, I know what you say is true, including the interesting part about CEOs. I assumed the term "psychopath" to be used implying "dangerous person". But the psychological term describes a person with a set of psychological properties that not only make being "dangerous" easier, but also leading various kinds of successfull and socially acceptable life. The person would just not care whether is live is socially acceptable or even charitable. And he would not mind, if it's nice in some way for him - like being socially rewarded. Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 2:51
  • 1
    I still think it's not the right answer for the question as the term is usually used in the exact psychological sense, and the difference can be seen as pretty large. (+1 for interesting perspective) Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 2:55
  • 1
    Oh, everybody is psychological for sure; I was refering to the term "psychopath" not being interpreted in the "exact psychological" sense - that is as defined by the science of psychology. I assume the term is used in a colloquial sense by default,and thus by the question author or at least his readers. Also, the "parasitic" behaviour we want to describe is secondary to psychopathy, it's a possible effect of it, It's like answering the question with "CEO". True that a CEO possibly does use people, but still, "CEO" is not an answer here. Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 5:26

A leech. OED: "2 a person who extorts profit from or lives off others ... v (leech on/off) habitually exploit or rely on

  • I think you may have forgotten to add the closing quotation mark. But this is a great answer—a great word choice. +1
    – ktm5124
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 18:39

"opportunist" comes to mind.

  • "one who takes advantage of any opportunity to achieve an end, often with no regard for principles or consequences" TFD

Depending on context, you could use:

  • designing (adj) "showing or exercising forethought" TFD
  • manipulating (adj) "controlling or playing upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage
  • artful (adj) " good at getting or achieving things in ways that are clever and not noticeable"
  • a parasite (noun) "a person or thing that takes something from someone or something else and does not do anything to earn it or deserve it" MW

I would say one that wasn't mentioned would be

Social Engineer

It is mostly used in the field of cyber-security but it can be used outside of that.

It's a bit hard to find a relevant definition for this but in short it is someone who will manipulate others with a specific goal in mind.




  1. make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).
    "500 companies sprang up to exploit this new technology"

Narcissist. Wolf in sheeps clothing. Evil capabilities due to no empathy

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