Suppose your boss asks if you are willing to work extra hours for no extra pay, with the implication that the expected answer is yes and you will face repercussions of some kind (e.g. dismissal) if you do not agree. Is there a name for this type of question?

  • This isn't a very good answer, but: While "rhetorical question" is usually a question that has or requires no answer, I guess--depending on how you look at it--it could also apply in this case of a question that has only one, obvious answer. It's definitely sometimes used colloquially to describe this kind of situation.
    – Yee-Lum
    Sep 21, 2015 at 22:04

3 Answers 3


Some candidate terms/phrases in American English:

  • (boss) made me an offer I couldn't refuse. This phrase derives from a popular gangster movie named Godfather. It has implications of bribery or an underlying threat of violence if the offer is refused.
  • (boss) put the screws to me. This phrase implies a degree of coercion against an unwilling subject.
  • (boss) put me between a rock and a hard place. This phrase implies that the (boss) created an untenable position where there is no good choice to be made. In the case posed by the question, the choice would be to be fired or to perform unpaid labor.
  • (boss) is really riding me. This phrase is the furthest from the original question. It implies that the the (boss) is carefully scrutinizing your actions and making difficult demands.

More simple terms include:

  • A veiled threat
  • A rhetorical question
  • A loaded question

As a side note, such practices are illegal and rather aggressively prosecuted in the United States. The described situation would result in rather severe repercussions for the employer if reported to the Department of Labor.


A leading question is a question which implicitly prompts one for a specific answer.


Coerce is a good word for what you're looking for.

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