I'm looking for a one (two might be ok) word description for a person who doesn't want anyone else to have a better life than himself. This is the type of person who will break your crayon on purpose because he accidentally broke his own. He's not inherently mean; if his own life is going well, then yours can, too.

To make this a little stronger, here's another example. Describe (in one or two words) a person who, after being born with only one arm, goes around chopping off other people's arms because he thinks it isn't fair that they all get to have two.

So far, the best I have is bitter or malcontent, but neither of these is strong enough in my opinion.

For context, I'm writing a log line and having trouble getting a strong enough adjective to describe the antagonist.

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    @tchrist I dispute this being a duplicate of schadenfreude. This is not pleasure at someone else's misfortune. This is envy. – candied_orange Aug 22 '15 at 12:43
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    @CandiedOrange A word for somehow who wants bad things to happen to other people is surely close enough to a duplicate for a word for someone who doesn’t want good things to happen to others. In any event, this a terrible question: it is too broad, primarily opinion-based, and shows no research effort. It is nothing but another open-ended fishing expedition for awful things to use about people whose behavior we disapprove of. If left open, it would draw dozens of answers and surely earn the guessers gold badges for their non-efforts. Let there be an SE site for those, not ELU. – tchrist Aug 22 '15 at 12:54
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    @tchrist then close it for those reasons. By marking this as a duplicate this way you're redefining schadenfreude. This is not what that means. – candied_orange Aug 22 '15 at 12:57
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    @tchrist I genuinely have a description in need of an adjective. This isn't broad (it's a very specific description), nor is it opinion-based (definitions are not opinions). It might show little research, but without a few words to begin with, the thesaurus is useless. If it's not a good fit for a Q&A site, then where would you suggest I go for help? – Samia Hayes Aug 22 '15 at 19:19

You're describing someone who is envious.

envy a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.

Some see this as the same as being jealous.

jealous resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another's success or advantage itself.

However, a distinction can be made between them as envy is about a loss of equality while jealousy is typically about fear of a possession being lost. http://www.vocabulary.com/articles/chooseyourwords/envy-jealousy/


Thanks for the edit. Knowing this is for a logline helps a great deal.

I'm not finding a better single word for you but do have a suggestion for useage.

Say your antagonist's name is Dr. Conners. Your logline might be:

Dr. Conners envious demand for equality with the rest of mankind leads him to force his own misfortunes upon others.

This may need tweaking for your own use. Your line about arm chopping has me thinking about old spiderman comics. And for some reason, communism.

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  • I feel like this should go beyond envy, but that's certainly the best fit so far. Thanks! – Samia Hayes Aug 22 '15 at 19:11
  • @SamiaHayes hows this? – candied_orange Aug 22 '15 at 19:40
  • Venal might serve. More bribery, though... I'll ponder a whit. – The Nate Apr 6 '16 at 14:16
  • "Rivalrous" seems the best I can think of. "Competitive" and "ambitious" work fairly well, but still lack that cut-throat edge. "Cut-throat competitor" is really close, but still lacks the aspect of thinking everything is a competition. I guess a 3-word stack could be fine, though. I was trying to think of a common word that included the pride involved. "Hubristic" pretty much nails this in its classical sense but I'm not sure the modern reader would understand it that way, what with the watered down definition. – The Nate Apr 6 '16 at 14:58
  • @TheNate Good suggestions. Competitive would be my pick from them. Only lacks any focus on life. Thus: competitive at life. Cut-throat merely intensifies. It doesn't make it a better match. Rivalrous tends to focus on particular people not anyone. Hubristic is about having excessive pride. Not about protecting your pride. But still good suggestions. Rather than leave them as comments to my question why don't you submit an answer? – candied_orange Apr 6 '16 at 16:01

I don't know what would you call that individual (misanthrope? Doesn't capture your description completely) but you could say that the person has a "crab mentality". It accurately and wonderfully presents what you want to convey about the person's behavior.

According to Wikipedia

Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket, is a phrase that describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase "if I can't have it, neither can you." The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless "king of the hill" competition which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise. The analogy in human behavior is sometimes claimed to be that members of a group will attempt to "pull down" (negate or diminish the importance of) any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, conspiracy or competitive feelings, although this is not the behavior being exhibited by the crabs which are simply trying to escape themselves, without any knowledge or understanding of the supposed "success" of their fellow creatures

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  • thanks for this tidbit! it's very helpful, and i can use it elsewhere. i still need an adjective for a log line, but i can slip this in elsewhere. thanks! – Samia Hayes Aug 22 '15 at 19:14

Petulant - characterized by temporary capricious behavior

Acrimonious - caustic, stinging, or bitter in nature, speech, behavior

Rancorous and vicious might do the job as well

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A saboteur is someone who breaks something in order to cause losses for his employer, enemy or competition.

SABOTAGE [chapter heading] The title we have prefixed seems to mean "scamping work." It is a device which, we are told, has been adopted by certain French workpeople as a substitute for striking. The workman, in other words, purposes to remain on and to do his work badly, so as to annoy his employer's customers and cause loss to his employer. ["The Liberty Review," January 1907]

In English, "malicious mischief" would appear to be the nearest explicit definition of "sabotage," which is so much more expressive as to be likely of adoption into all languages spoken by nations suffering from this new force in industry and morals. Sabotage has a flavor which is unmistakable even to persons knowing little slang and no French .... ["Century Magazine," November 1910]

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  • citation please – Yeshe Aug 22 '15 at 9:36

I suggest malevolent (adjective):

(adj.) Wishing evil or harm to another or others; showing ill will; ill-disposed; malicious:

His failures made him malevolent toward those who were successful.

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Psychopath is slightly on the lines.

It's someone who takes pleasure in seeing people under him. Ushally in pain, but not limited to pain.

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  • Actually, that's a sadist that you're thinking of. A psychopath is someone with a mental illness/neurology that leaves them incapable of empathy, and often of the ability to feel strong (or even any) emotions. They can learn to predict how to behave in a sympathetic-seeming, pro-social way at need, and learn what kinds of effects their actions will have on others, but they aren't burdened by guilt or remorse over hurts done to others in the same way non-psychopaths are. Totally different mental illnesses/neurologies. And neither is what the author is describing. – Iolite_Jay Feb 21 '18 at 11:26


1.) of or characteristic of a tyrant. 2.) unjustly cruel, harsh, or severe; arbitrary or oppressive; despotic.



1.) inclined to rule arbitrarily or despotically; overbearing; tyrannical.


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  • These are not fitting in this instance. Both would assume that the character is in a position of power over those he's injuring (be that as a monarch, a political leader, or a manager or CEO, or what have you). He's not. If anything, he desires power over them, or to drag everyone down to his level of weakness. – Iolite_Jay Feb 21 '18 at 11:34

Envious is very good, but it doesn't seem to go far enough for your situation. I think, then, you'll have to use more than one word. Perhaps

Sociopath or psychopath

will help you show how far the envy is taking the person.

The sociopath lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011)

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  • I think you're working off of pop-culture abuses of those terms. Try referring to the DMV-V instead. Just because a person lacks a sense of moral or social responsibility doesn't mean they actively want to destroy everyone or drag them down to their level (antisocial). And a psychopath probably wouldn't be able to feel strongly enough to want to injure others so. Having a much cooler head than a neurotypical, they'd probably realise it'd be easier and lead to more comfort to capitalise on their condition than to get themselves shot or landed in jail for maiming everyone they can reach. – Iolite_Jay Feb 21 '18 at 11:28

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