How do you describe a person who delights in prodding your weaknesses. Example: a loan officer of a bank who picks at your plan in a way that is embarrassing and he keeps it up for half an hour.

  • 1
    Antagonist might work.
    – Joe Dark
    Oct 9, 2015 at 14:01
  • From the Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles: "Kirk may be a swaggering, overbearing, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood. But he's not soft"
    – user662852
    Oct 9, 2015 at 14:10

6 Answers 6


In terms of 'prodding', pernicious:

having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way

In terms of taking delight, sadistic:

Deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others

(and the ol' schadenfreude which seems to turn up here often..)


It can be said that they 'enjoy pushing your buttons'

v. - to push buttons

  1. To deliberately irritate
  2. To intentionally provoke another without reason
  3. To wear away at the patience of someone until that person wants to slap you
  4. To capitalize on the emotional vulnerabilities of another


  • This describes the action, not the person Oct 9, 2015 at 14:28
  • 1
    @Lamar Saying that someone 'enjoys [doing something]' is a description of a facet of the person, not the action they enjoy doing.
    – Marv Mills
    Oct 9, 2015 at 14:31
  • true... I just read the highlighted and quoted text ... my oversight Oct 9, 2015 at 14:37

I'd go for...

1. Disposed to seek revenge; revengeful.
2. Marked by or resulting from a desire to hurt; spiteful.

Note that etymologically speaking, the first definition above is the "original, true" meaning (from Latin vindicta = vengeance, revenge), but I never hear it used with positive associations (i.e. - exacting justifiable vengeance in response to unjustified bad treatment). And the word is commonly used in the second sense, in contexts where there it simply identifies a person who enjoys causing distress to others, with no implication of "retaliation" (justified or not).

  • When a court awards a vindictive damages to plaintiffs, they will be positively happy with the ruling. It is one of very rare positive associations.
    – user140086
    Oct 9, 2015 at 14:58
  • @Rathony: I've never heard that usage - maybe it's a US thing. In the UK those are called punitive (occasionally exemplary) damages. Legal "vindictiveness" sounds to me like the start of a slippery slope. Oct 9, 2015 at 16:02

Passive-aggressive comes to mind, although it seems to be way broader.

What you describe sounds like a cruel faultfinder who enjoys criticism at the expense of others.


Schadenfreudenista if you play it fast and loose.

  • <unsolicited side note>As someone who works with Loan Officers, they don't get paid unless your Loan closes, so even if it seems like they're delighting in your discomfort, it probably comes from a genuine desire to help ( although the person themself may still be a jerk )</unsolicited side note> Oct 9, 2015 at 15:28

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/callous I would say callous and indifferent because such people don't have compassion and care for others feelings and are somehow indifferent too.

  • 2
    Someone who lacks compassion does not necessarily seek to bully; they are simply unsympathetic to people who are bullied. They don't try to provoke feelings of embarassment or insecurity in others; they simply don't care what feelings they provoke by their words or actions.
    – choster
    Aug 3, 2016 at 18:36
  • @choster that's true . I wanted to emphasize 'callous' and somehow explain it in my own words
    – Houda L
    Aug 4, 2016 at 7:42

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