What would be a word that one could use to describe a person, or if more accurate, a situation, where one person goads another into an act of aggression, knowing that in doing so, the person will eventually lose his wits, but is hopelessly outclassed.

For example, Mr. Smith is walking home from work late at night, and to reach the last bus in time without having to pay for a cab, takes a shortcut through a rough neighbourhood, where Mr. Smith encounters a skinny, short vagrant. The vagrant produces a knife and demands Mr. Smith's wallet, but Mr. Smith can tell by the way the vagrant shakes and stutters and holds the knife, he is not a real threat.

Instead, Mr. Smith insults the vagrant, goading him, trying to call his bluff. Mr. Smith is heavily armed, and has a military background, and if the vagrant attacked him, Mr. Smith could kill him effortlessly, and get away with it in court, provided he didn't confess his intentions to the jury, but just his actions, and (insincerely) claimed to be afraid for his life to the court.

Background: Trying to find some good words to describe a crime-drama scenario for a GTA fanfic.

I've considered "calling one's bluff", but that just seems to be an element of the scenario. I've also considered "forcing one's hand", but the vagrant has a conscious choice to flee as well. I had also found news articles about a middle-class guy in the US a few years back buying a gun and intentionally getting mugged at a train station so he could score a symbolic victory by shooting the random muggers who assaulted him, but the only terms described there were along the lines of "vigilantism", which again doesn't seem to fit, as Mr. Smith's sadistic intent was only pre-meditated after the weapon was pulled on him, and not prior to that involuntary confrontation.


  • 3
    I think you have already typed the best answer in your question: Mr. Smith was goading the vagrant. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 2:54
  • 1
    @user1717828 It seems like a good one, but it doesn't seem to address his intent to bring harm to the mugger. Perhaps it's too lengthy a case for a single word. Thank you.
    – Cloud
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 2:59
  • 5
    You could say he was baiting the vagrant
    – TomMcW
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 3:01
  • In the same vein as baiting, trolling is popular these days.
    – stevesliva
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 3:42

3 Answers 3


The first person is a provocateur, and is thus provocative, provoking the second person.


You might also want to consider the expression incitement to violence

incitement: the action of provoking unlawful behavior or urging someone to behave unlawfully.


Colloquially we refer to this type of person as a shit-stirrer.

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