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Say someone helped you of their own volition. You express your gratitude for it. Then, whenever you have an argument over something, anything, they see it fit to repeatedly mention the fact that they helped you this one time or two times or so. Is there a word or an idiom fit for this situation?

marked as duplicate by ermanen single-word-requests Nov 12 '15 at 16:28

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    an immature person with underdeveloped communication skills, possibly because she is a brat and/or a whiner – NES Nov 12 '15 at 14:32
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    This could be categorized as one form of emotional blackmail bpdfamily.com/content/… - The person is seeking to control your ability to think or act freely by using an obligation that you have towards them (or that they say you have). – chasly from UK Nov 12 '15 at 14:41
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    Please could you give us an example of a sentence that shows how you want to use the term? Do you want a noun that means a type of person? Do you want an adjective that describes the person. Do you want a phrase that you would use to describe the situation? – chasly from UK Nov 12 '15 at 14:45
  • You're right chasly, I was looking for an adjective or a phrase/idiom. But this has been marked a duplicate, and as it appears, it is. But the responses on this particular post are much more interesting than the other one. I got to know an idiom I hadn't ever heard (Indian giver) thanks to FumbleFingers, got to read a great article on emotional blackmail thanks to you. – Ravi Nov 12 '15 at 17:08
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    @ermanen: I can't deny the two questions are sufficiently similar to justify closing this one. But there's a subtle difference in that this one seems to be more about the disingenuous benefactor boasting [to others] about how "noble" he was to have helped you, which is why I suggested Indian Giver. What he's taking in return (which was never offered) is enhancement of his own reputation. The original question doesn't really have that dimension, so I'd have probably answered bean-counter there. – FumbleFingers Nov 12 '15 at 18:08

I doubt there's a term for exactly OP's context, but to me it's an example of the (primarily AmE, possibly non-PC) idiomatic usage. From Wikipedia...

Indian giver
a person who gives a gift and later wants it back, or something equivalent in return

The original assistance wasn't in fact freely given, with no strings attached, even though it might have seemed so at the time. The "not-so-good Samaritan" seeks to be repeatedly "repaid" by aggrandizing themselves at your expense for the indefinite future.

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    I think this is a good answer. I'll just point out that the expression isn't generally known outside of the US. It refers to Native Americans. In Britain, it would probably be taken to refer to people from India. That could cause confusion or even offence. – chasly from UK Nov 12 '15 at 15:00
  • Well... I don't think this is correct for this situation. In the US, this expression is seldom used anymore, but originally it referred to physical things, such as giving someone a set of dishes only to ask for it back later, etc. (I think especially if later it was determined that the dishes had special value). I can think of several words to describe people who behave this way (during arguments), but I don't think this forum is low-brow enough to tolerate such postings. ;-) – Tim Ward Nov 12 '15 at 16:02
  • @chaslyfromUK while en-US in origin, it did gain some currency in the UK along with several other expressions Americans had using "Indian", along with some like "Indian summer" that did indeed reference India. Consider the popularity of quasi-Indian references in Peter Pan and among the Boy Scouts and Order of Woodcraft Civalry. Most such phrases died out as based on rather suspect (and in this case, pretty ironic) ideas about ethnic groups, and the fashion for emulating patronising ideas of native Americans moving on to patronise other groups instead. – Jon Hanna Nov 12 '15 at 16:44
  • @chasly: I've known Indian giver since childhood, and it would never have occurred to me to think of it as referring to people from India. I've always understood it to be about the way [semi-]nomadic "native American" tribes would gather in annual multi-tribe meetings, to exchange/barter goods & women. With perhaps an allusion to that other practice (possibly made up/exaggerated) whereby a "big" chief would belittle lesser chiefs by presenting them with such extravagant gifts the recipients would be "humbled/beaten" (being unable to reciprocate by returning gifts of equal or greater value). – FumbleFingers Nov 12 '15 at 17:10

I would describe such a person as "petty":

mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things: a petty person

showing or caused by meanness of spirit: a petty revenge


First they give you something (help or assistance), then they essentially cancel it out by being petty about it.


Left-handed may refer to the insincere behaviour you are referring to:

  • Of doubtful sincerity; dubious: left-handed flattery; a left-handed compliment.

The Free Dictionary

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