What is the exact word for someone who always pretends to be nice to someone's face but makes fun of them behind their back?

When they are talking to you, they'll treat you very well, like a good-mannered person.

They care a lot about their image in front of others and show a positive image of themselves in front of an audience. But they are not actually good in their heart.

Any word except hypocrite.


12 Answers 12


Echoing Jim's comment above, you might consider 'two-faced'

  • Hypocritical or double-dealing; deceitful.

  • Being or acting so as to conceal one's real intentions


Specifically this would fit with someone who quite literally shows one face (friendly) and another face (unfriendly) under differing circumstances.

So the usage would be

"I hate how two-faced she is, always talking about people behind their backs"

  • 1
    "You've got more faces than the town hall clock"
    – Dan Hulme
    Dec 10, 2015 at 16:13
  • Two-faced is surely superior (and shorter) than 'hypocritical'. Why would it matter whether it is one word or two. In my lifetime, the expression "week end" has evolved to "week-end" and now "weekend", and you can take your pick of which of the three spellings you choose.
    – Tuffy
    Jun 5, 2023 at 19:45

If you are looking for a single word, then I would suggest backstabber


Noun. (plural backstabbers) A traitor or hypocrite, such as a co-worker or friend assumed trustworthy but who figuratively attacks when one's back is turned.


  • Also the variant "backbiter"
    – Nonnal
    Dec 10, 2015 at 8:16
  • I guess in some situations this may be a very valid word for it, but to me it sounds like someone who is willing to hurt you directly when you least expect it. Whereas someone who talks behind your back seems to either not want to hurt you, or hurts you indirectly by means of slander. Dec 10, 2015 at 14:50

There is also

From WordNet (r) 3.1 (2006):

duplicitous, adj

1: marked by deliberate deceptiveness especially by pretending one set of feelings and acting under the influence of another;
"she was a deceitful scheming little thing" - Israel Zangwill;
"a double-dealing double agent";
"a double-faced infernal traitor and schemer" - W.M.Thackeray

[syn: {ambidextrous}, {deceitful}, {double-dealing}, {duplicitous}, {Janus-faced}, {two-faced}, {double-faced}, {double-tongued}]

  • I formatted that for you and added a link to the online version. Please note that "syn" seems like an abbreviation for "synonym" but from the source should actually be "semantic relations." Also, the quotes now in italics do not define duplicitous, so it might be worthwhile to trim them from your answer or use a dictionary (such as cambridge or m-w) that gives example sentences with the actual word being defined. WordNet seems to be using several of the semantic relations as examples, which is jarring in your supposed definition.
    – ErikE
    Dec 10, 2015 at 18:10

Consider disingenuous:

not truly honest or sincere

giving the false appearance of being honest or sincere




phony (also spelled phoney)

adj. insincere or deceitful; affected or pretentious.

n. an insincere, pretentious, or deceitful person: He thought my friends were a bunch of phonies... Random House

making a false show: as (1) : hypocritical (2) : specious M-W


hypocrite; not speaking frankly or straightforwardly Oxford Dictionaries


Consider weasel:

weasel: a person who is regarded as treacherous or sneaky


Alternatively, how about two-timer (although this one often carries the connotation of infidelity, but not necessarily):

a person who says one thing and does another


Or double-dealer:

double-dealing: the practice of working to people's disadvantage behind their backs

(Oxford Dictionary)


Wolf in sheep's clothing is what I would refer to. You never know when the wolf masquerading as a sheep will devour you.

  • 3
    The OP is looking for one word.
    – A.P.
    Dec 10, 2015 at 10:07

How about 'Janus-faced'?

Janus-faced - marked by deliberate deceptiveness especially by pretending one set of feelings and acting under the influence of another; "she was a deceitful scheming little thing"- Israel Zangwill; "a double-dealing double agent"; "a double-faced infernal traitor and schemer"- W.M.Thackeray.

[Janus-faced. (n.d.) WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. (2003-2008). Retrieved December 10 2015 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Janus-faced .]


Lots of excellent answers here already. I'll throw in the adjective insidious. This has a pretty strong tone and suggests evil intentions that are well hidden. It doesn't necessarily imply an outward facade, you can insidiously undermine someone without them ever laying eyes on you.


  1. intended to entrap or beguile: an insidious plan.

  2. stealthily treacherous or deceitful: an insidious enemy.

  3. operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect: an insidious disease.


All of the above suggestions are great, but I'd throw one more into the mix: frenemy. This is a new coinage, and Wikipedia says:

"Frenemy" (less commonly spelled "frienemy") is an oxymoron and a portmanteau of "friend" and "enemy" that can refer to either an enemy pretending to be a friend or someone who really is a friend but also a rival.

  • 1
    I recognize the friend but also a rival definition (e.g. Samsung and Apple are frenemies: they sue each other over their mobile phone designs, but Samsung also gladly sells components to Apple). I'm skeptical about the enemy pretending to be a friend definition. The OED draft definition cited by Wikipedia has changed: it now says "A person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry; a person who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy." Dec 10, 2015 at 20:58

Especially for a celebrity who pretends to have a good heart, you could consider using chameleon which means:

A person who changes their opinions or behaviour according to the situation:

[Oxford Online Dictionary]

a person who often changes his or her beliefs or behavior in order to please others or to succeed



I've always liked the term "backbiter", from the verb "to backbite":

: to say mean or spiteful things about (as one not present)


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.