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What would be a suitable term for someone who has a lot of gall or has the gall to? Specifically someone who has wronged you or yours, or taken something from you, and should be repentant (and perhaps, absent), but shows up and shows no remorse or shame. I’m thinking of something more specific than shameless (because that can have such varied applications, terms like like shameless self-promotion wouldn’t really apply).

A better example might be someone who has borrowed from you repeatedly, even stolen some money from you — and then comes back asking for a loan, with a smile. Is there a spot-on adjective for that person? Or a noun? (“He’s a ____; he asked me for another $100!”).

  • I'm surprised no one has suggested "Gaelic". (It's what I would likely use, if "gall" has already been mentioned.) – Hot Licks Jul 31 '15 at 16:33
  • The word "gall" ain't bad. If you're feeling particularly loquacious, you might consider saying, "He's got the unmitigated gall to ________." Don – rhetorician Jul 31 '15 at 17:43
  • @HotLicks I’m assuming it’s because no one has heard of it. I wouldn’t have the faintest idea what you meant if you described someone as Gaelic, except as an odd way of saying they were from Ireland or Scotland. I’ve heard Irish used to describe people, but that’s more related to having a temper than to being impudent. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 31 '15 at 20:05
  • If you knew me you'd figure it out. – Hot Licks Aug 1 '15 at 2:05
  • Or, a better one: "g'awful". – Hot Licks Aug 1 '15 at 11:17

11 Answers 11

20

I would say such a person was brazen

ˈbreɪz(ə)n
adjective
1. bold and without shame.

(oxforddictionaries.com)

For the example given:

He’s brazen; he asked me for another $100!

or more effectively:

He’s a brazen [expletive]; he asked me for another $100!

14

I would call this person audacious (adjective) or say that he/she has chutzpah (noun). The word "audacious" can be in a positive or negative fashion, so the speaker can use tone of voice to determine which one is meant. This sort of subtlety lends a certain intimacy to conversations.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, audacious means:

audacious adjective UK /ɔːˈdeɪ.ʃəs/ US /ɑː-/

showing a willingness to take risks or offend people: He described the plan as ambitious and audacious. an audacious remark/suggestion

and chutzpah means:

chutzpah noun chutz·pah \ˈhu̇t-spə, ˈḵu̇t-, -(ˌ)spä\

: personal confidence or courage that allows someone to do or say things that may seem shocking to others

  • 1
    Audacious, no. Chutzpah, yes. – Robusto Jul 31 '15 at 10:59
  • 6
    Have to disagree. "audacity" means: 1. a willingness to take bold risks. "he whistled at the sheer audacity of the plan" synonyms: boldness, daring, fearlessness, intrepidity, bravery, courage, courageousness, valour, valorousness, heroism, pluck, recklessness; More 2. rude or disrespectful behaviour; impudence. – Marconius Jul 31 '15 at 11:04
  • 1
    No. 2 has fallen into disuse, and is unlikely to be recognized. The modern world confers a positive spin on the word, and has for quite some time. Audacious is similar to bold: although both words can carry a negative connotation, that is contextual and in the eye of the beholder. The positive interpretation is not. – Robusto Jul 31 '15 at 11:12
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    Where are your references for the assertion that this usage has fallen into disuse? I have heard many people express outrage by saying "He had the audacity to ...". Many dictionaries list this definition too. In any case, the question does not necessarily imply disapproval of the (shameless) behaviour. – Marconius Jul 31 '15 at 11:17
  • 3
    Why is audacious getting more flak here than chutzpah? I've never heard chutzpah used in a negative sense, only to describe a positive energy about a person. Audacious, on the other hand, especially being related to audacity (which I've only ever heard used in a negative sense), can easily be used negatively with context (or "tone of voice" as Marconius suggests). – talrnu Jul 31 '15 at 13:09
5

You could say that they have brass neck

A type of behaviour where someone is extremely confident about their own actions but does not understand that their behaviour is unacceptable to others.

Cambridge Dictionary

In your example: He's got a brass neck; he asked me for $100!


Alternatively, you could use the synonymous term effrontery.

Extreme rudeness without any ability to understand that your behaviour is not acceptable to other people

Cambridge Dictionary

After having stolen from me, he had the effrontery to ask for $100!

  • 1
    Or, "He's got--ahem--brass balls"! I learned that one in Brooklyn, New York, and the sentence described the behavior of an employee who left for lunch several minutes earlier than everyone else (BEFORE lunchtime), daily! Don – rhetorician Jul 31 '15 at 17:40
2

Perhaps the person is acting entitled. More commonly, for the pejorative sense, the noun form, entitlement is used

The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment: no wonder your kids have a sense of entitlement

[AS MODIFIER]: this entitlement mentality is completely out of control

Oxford Dictionaries Online

Also, the term balls is sometimes used to convey arrogant action

(uncountable, slang) Bravery, courage, chutzpah, or brazenness.  

He must have a lot of balls to talk to his boss that way.

He's the guy with the big balls in that group.

Balls is all that it takes to succeed.

Wiktionary

Note that the term is often used admiringly, and the negative connotation is more tonal or contextual than literal. In the example given by the OP, you might say

You've got a lot of balls to ask for more money when you already owe me $100!

Also note that this usage is very much slang, is somewhat sexist, and would be considered rude and objected to by many.

  • Or, "You've got brass balls!" Don – rhetorician Jul 31 '15 at 17:41
  • Or, "Ron is really ballsy, he just punched that cougar in the face." – Dan Jul 31 '15 at 22:43
2

You might try he's got a nerve to do that or got some nerve to do that.

nerve (noun) the rudeness to do something that you know will upset other people.

[+ to infinitive] She's late for work every day, but she still has the nerve to lecture me about punctuality.

That man has some nerve! He's always blaming me for things that are his fault.

(UK) That man has such a nerve!

She drove the car into a tree and then told me it was my fault for not concentrating, of all the nerve! — Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary

A couple of examples from out in the wild, starting with a letter to the Hartford Courant, criticizing Joe DeLong, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities:

DeLong suggested the budget could be improved to benefit cities and towns. He's got some nerve, when many other vital interests like hospitals are suffering losses. DeLong should be lauding the governor and legislators for continuing to protect municipalities from the harm facing almost everyone else.

Or a news article about "a man brazen enough to walk into a Walmart in Bristow, Oklahoma, and steal $75,000 by posing as a Loomis armored guard":

Loomis employees normally wear bulletproof vests — and they also usually drive Loomis armored trucks. This Walmart thief arrived and left the Walmart in a black Chevy — $75,000 richer — leaving Oklahoma residents amazed at his brazenness. “So bold. Of all the nerve. This is a new one.” — "Walmart $75,000 Theft: Man Posing As Loomis Armored Guard Steals $75,000 From Walmart Store In Bristow, Oklahoma", Inquistr (5 July 2015)

(Like Charon's answer this is a "he has" rather than "he is", but it seems a good fit.)

2

That person sounds ballsy

: aggressively bold : gutsy, nervy

Definitely slang and somewhat vulgar, it is definitely not to be used in formal writing or conversation with most people beyond your friends.

1

In BrE you could use cheeky, especially in a more humorous context:

slightly rude or showing no respect, but often in a funny way

You're a cheeky little miss! Apologize at once.

Or alternatively to have/got the cheek, which I think is even closer to what you're after and does not carry a humorous connotation.

behaviour or talk that is rude and shows no respect

She's got some cheek to take your car without asking.

Plenty more apposite quotes for both uses in the links provided.

0

I can think of no better English word than "brazen", posted by Avon.

The word I would use, however, is chutzpadik, a variant of "chutzpah" mentioned by Marconius. It's a Yiddish adjective. For example, I might say: "Did you hear that Cosby is suing his accusers? Can you believe how chutzpadik he is?!"

0

temerity, audacity, hardihood, effrontery, nerve, cheek, gall, chutzpah mean conspicuous or flagrant boldness. temerity suggests boldness arising from rashness and contempt of danger . audacity implies a disregard of restraints commonly imposed by convention or prudence . hardihood suggests firmness in daring and defiance . effrontery implies shameless, insolent disregard of propriety or courtesy . nerve, cheek, gall, and chutzpah are informal equivalents for effrontery .

All courtesy of m-w.com

Personally, I would use audacious and assert that it is not assumed to be a positive statement at all. Or I would say "I cannot believe he has the temerity to ask for more money after he's already borrowed $100."

I do think to say "He's a BASTARD!" or "He's a cheeky bastard!" would convey the sense that the OP desires. I think an insult is appropriate in that context.

0

There's a Scottish slang word 'gallus', pronounced 'gaallus'. It means much the same as chutzpah but is used as an adjective. That might work - even the spelling looks appropriate.

-1

As an alternative , you could say that this person has spunk. As in , Jimmy's got spunk to override the experimental sequence initiated by the Boss.

  • 2
    That doesn't have the negative connotation OP is looking for. – Matthew Read Jul 31 '15 at 14:39

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