I'm working on designing characters for a game, and the main group of villains consists of characters that have a two-word epithet in the form "The ___" where the word in the blank describes their personality or what they do (i.e. "The Languid," "The Reminder," etc.)

One of these characters acts like a trickster/jester, but in an uncanny and rather malicious way. (Think Batman's Joker or The Legend of Zelda's Happy Mask Salesman). Is there a word to describe this type of person? Basically I'm looking for a noun or adjective that includes meanings or connotations of "strange," "unpredictable," and "malicious."

Some near misses include "uncanny," "fickle," and "capricious." The latter of which comes closest, in my opinion, but doesn't quite encapsulate the connotation of malice or foreboding.

  • 2
    What's wrong with "The trickster"? It sounds quite malicious to me. Aug 5, 2015 at 23:01
  • 1
    Here is a list that may trigger something: fiend, hellion, imp, knave, rogue, scamp, scoundrel, villain Aug 5, 2015 at 23:20

12 Answers 12


I might pick one of fay/fae as alternatives for fairy that focus on the older malicious trickster version and make it clear you don't mean a cute Tinkerbell type. One might find "The Fey Fae" both appropriate and either awful, amusing, or both.


The malefic (adj.):

  1. Causing harm or destruction, especially by supernatural means

    'She was hypnotized by the spider's malefic eyes'

    Source: ODO

  2. Doing mischief; causing harm or evil; nefarious; hurtful

    Source: Webster

The scapegrace (noun, archaic):

  1. a mischievous or wayward person, especially a young person or child

    Origin: early 19th Century: from scape (see scapegoat) + grace, literally denoting a person who escapes the grace of God

    Source: ODO

  • 1
    Mischievous is in your definitions twice and not elsewhere among either the question or answers, so I'd make that the primary and +1 for it.
    – stevesliva
    Aug 6, 2015 at 4:12

I would use impish in this context.


impish adjective imp·ish \ˈim-pish\ : having or showing a playful desire to cause trouble : playful and mischievous

  • But there is no note of maliciousness in impishness (playful is not something I'd associate with malicious). The most famous impish person might be Til Eulenspiegel. Aug 6, 2015 at 12:06

How about deceiver ? Dictionary.com describes deceive to be,

to mislead by a false appearance or statement; delude:

And there is a noun usage: deceiver.

Looking at you other examples you have used...

(i.e. "The Languid," "The Reminder," etc.)

"The Deceiver" (to me of course) fits rather well.

  • I think I like this better than what I was originally going for. It doesn't quite encapsulate everything that I wanted, but it sounds really fitting for the character.
    – baphomet
    Aug 6, 2015 at 3:45

Just googling synonyms gives a lot of synonyms, and classic mythology is a good source too. There are trickster gods like Puck or Loki or Pan. Or satyrs in general, which also has similarities to 'satire'.

But I would try to look for names that can have double meanings. For (bad) example, "the gagger". When he is first described in the game, people likely think of choking, but then they discover he isn't. This in and of itself is a gag and a mindtrick. It's similar to how the Joker is both about jokes, and being a wildcard.

The kipper, which is a fish, specifically red herring. The goose, and you're on a wild-goose chase. The mocker; both one who mocks others, but also one that creates mock-events to distract. The dummy, a smart man leaving behind false evidences.

Though all of these are more grouped around deception than malvolent behaviour, I hope it gives a different perspective on things.


How about the malign?

Definitely conveys malice.

EDIT: How about the devious?

That definitely conveys malice, also strangeness in the form of perversity and has a connotation of joviality in the sense of sexual deviancy, for example.


Two words come to mind: "the unreliable" and "the treacherous"

  • unreliable - (adj) "not to be relied or depended on" - D.com

  • treacherous - (adj) "likely to betray trust" - MW


I am not sure it conveys any joviality, but you can use the terms sarcastic, sardonic, or satirical to convey the idea of a person that is witty with a nasty side, particularly by ridiculing their target.


Elfin - (With reference to a person) small and delicate, typically with an attractively mischievous or strange charm:

“Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder. Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels. Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies. Elves are glamorous. They project glamour. Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment. Elves are terrific. They beget terror. The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning. No one ever said elves are nice. Elves are bad.” - Terry Pratchett


Villains are often characterized as maniacal. You could call them "The maniacal".

Maniacal adjective

  1. : affected with or suggestive of madness

  2. : characterized by ungovernable excitement or frenzy : frantic

- Merriam-Webster

Although, if you want to portray them as "tricksters" I would go with deceptive.


Sounds a bit like kokopelli, a character in southwestern Americas culture that has several attributes, one of which is being a trickster. Wikipedia

Along those same lines, consider shape-shifter or Loki (Wikipedia)


A troll

n. 1. A supernatural creature of Scandinavian folklore, variously portrayed as a friendly or mischievous dwarf or as a giant, that lives in caves, in the hills, or under bridges.

  • Why the negative vote, pray? Aug 6, 2015 at 14:54

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