I'm looking for a word to indicate what someone is doing when they're regularily targeting anyone part of a different group / community using words and without physical actions involved, something like "to persecute" but with a lighter acceptation.

A good example would be supporters of a football teams (?) supporters of other teams; they're not "persecuting" each other, but if they meet they'd start (?) each other, so the topic is the rivalry here; nonetheless this wouldn't imply physical actions of any kind, but just words.

  • 1
    It would be helpful if you could tell us what options you've considered and rejected. For example, have you looked for synonyms of persecute?
    – JHCL
    Oct 17, 2015 at 11:13
  • 4
    Rival football team supporters like to antagonise each other.
    – Joe Dark
    Oct 17, 2015 at 11:16
  • @JHCL Yes I did (here to be precise), but none helped, since "to persecute" is not quite what I mean, although it's the closest I can get to express what I mean; both "to persecute" and its synonyms all seem to have a too heavy acceptation to describe what I'm really thinking; also the rivalry is the central topic, and I'd like this to stick out from the meaning somehow.
    – kos
    Oct 17, 2015 at 11:23
  • I've posted an answer, but antagonise is much better in the football situation (where provocation is a likely motive).
    – JHCL
    Oct 17, 2015 at 11:24
  • 2
    'Persecute' has no racist connotations. It may very well be used in racist situations but does not, standing by itself, connote any kind of bigotry. Also I think you mean 'connotation' instead of 'acceptation' (I don't think the latter is a word)
    – Mitch
    Oct 17, 2015 at 13:50

8 Answers 8


To heckle

Definition: To torment with persistent insult or ridicule; to harass (a public speaker, performer, etc.) with impertinent questions, gibes, or the like; to badger (to harass or urge persistently; pester; nag).

Example: As you correctly state, all members heckle from time to time and noise does get excessive and you do your best to try to quell that.

To hound

Definition: To pursue or harass without respite:

Examples: Her little brother wouldn't stop hounding her. When he is out of office, He is being hounded by the press.

Eventually To scold

Definition: to use harsh or abusive language; to criticize other people in an angry way; to heap abuse; to criticize or blame loudly and angrily.

Example: It wasn't Rick's fault he was late getting home, but his father didn't want to listen to his excuses; he just stood there and scolded.

Also to throw invectives [at each other]

Definition of "invective": Swearing or abusive language that is harsh or insulting; vehement accusations or denunciations including bitterly abusive or sarcastic speech.

Example: The politicians were throwing invectives at each other during their TV debate.


Maybe Disparage:

to speak contemptuously of; belittle (-- Collins)

although it doesn't carry a confrontational aspect (you can disparage someone behind their back).

  • Indeed, apologizes, I didn't saw the edit coming in.
    – kos
    Oct 17, 2015 at 11:25
  • Thanks, that's quite close, +1, but the rivalry should really stick out here, I'd really like the reason behind (?) to be self-explanatory.
    – kos
    Oct 17, 2015 at 11:28


The Free Dictionary "To deride, heckle, or tease: razzed the teammate who missed the shot" Its derivation is "a shortening and tightening of raspberry."

Collins Dictionary: "the act of making fun of someone; ribbing, ragging;

The American team was subjected to sustained razzing by a section of the crowd.

It all started with a bit of friendly razzing.

He took a little razzing from his teammates."

Note that the second example from Collins suggests that razzing can escalate to something more serious.


To shout (out) can be a good candidate.

It means:

To utter a sudden and loud outcry, as in joy, triumph, or exultation, or to attract attention, to animate soldiers, etc. [Wiktionary]

Shout as a noun means:

A loud burst of voice or voices; a vehement and sudden outcry, especially that of a multitude expressing joy, triumph, exultation, or animated courage. [Wiktionary]

"They're not "persecuting" each other, but if they meet, they'd start (to shout at) each other."


To taunt: "provoke or challenge (someone) with insulting remarks". http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/taunt


Discriminate: if you want to imply some prejudicial distinction towards another group, perhaps?

  • Thanks for your answer, well, not really, I was looking for something expressing e.g. what football players do when they trash talk to each other and all that sort of things, "unified" under a more general term.
    – kos
    Oct 17, 2015 at 11:35
  • Yes, I like antagonise as well. How about 'insult' or 'irritate' as alternatives?
    – Martingo
    Oct 17, 2015 at 11:44

When rival fans meet, they start leering and jeering at each other.

leer : look or gaze in an unpleasant, malicious, or lascivious way –Google

jeer : to speak or cry out with derision or mockery –MW

Pivotal to the concept of rivalry and "regularly targeting anyone part of a different group", is the term Schadenfreude (pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune). Animals who show themselves capable of herd mentality are biologically hardwired to participate in this type of 'group' behavior.

So, another word to indicate what someone is doing when this happens, is that they're experiencing schadenfreude. They're conforming to the group; reaping the chemical reward that their brains give them for participating 'socially'. Our tribal ingroup biases are human nature.

If you're interested, there's an excellent Through the Wormhole episode about all of this, especially concerning sports fans: Are We All Bigots? (dailymotion)


Perhaps the word you're looking for is barrack, which means to shout at a public performer in order to indicate your dislike. It goes without saying that such behaviour often happens in the lead-up to football matches and during the matches themselves. As per the MacMillan dictionary:

barrack - definition and synonyms

VERB barrack pronunciation in British English /ˈbærək/

1 [INTRANSITIVE/TRANSITIVE] to shout at someone who is speaking, playing, or performing in public because you do not like them He was barracked by supporters of the other team.

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