What is a formal word/phrase that describes a person who always searches to benefit from other people?

It is hard to recall the word in my own language to translate. So I decided to give it a try and ask here.

I prefer adjective

  • Does this suggest "parasite" or "leech"? It seems as though in English we often express unpleasant concepts through metaphor.
    – Rob_Ster
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:04
  • @Rob_Ster I want the formal one, sorry.
    – Victor
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:04
  • Do you care if the word/phrase is a noun or an adjective?
    – herisson
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:08
  • 1
    "Opportunist" (adj., "opportunistic") has the flavor of one who actively seeks and takes advantage of others. I will stand by "parasite" in formal speech, while admitting that "leech" is pejoratively informal.
    – Rob_Ster
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:19
  • A people user? Not really formal, but it is neutral.
    – Fae
    Feb 3, 2016 at 3:40

3 Answers 3


If I am not mistaken, you may be in search of the common word "freeloader", "a person who takes advantage of others' generosity without giving anything in return." While it's informal, it is far more common than most other applicable terms. A synonym of beggar might suit your needs though, perhaps mendicant (more formal and doubles as an adjective, but less commonly understood), panhandler (informal), etc.

The fact is that if one fits this description, he can't be too picky about what people call him.

Google Definitions

Freeloader: "a person who takes advantage of others' generosity without giving anything in return."

Beggar:(1st sense) "a person, typically a homeless one, who lives by asking for money or food."

Mendicant: adjective - "Given to begging" noun - "Beggar"

Wikipedia Definition

Panhandling: "Begging or panhandling is the practice of imploring others to grant a favor, often a gift of money, with little or no expectation of reciprocation. Beggars may be found in public places such as transport routes, urban parks, and near busy markets."


Parasite (parasitic for the adjective). In a generic biological context, parasitism is "non-mutual symbiotic relationship between species". I like the euphemism in "non-mutual symbiotic".

You can find many additional options and derivatives in SE.english question: Is there a slang word or idiom for someone who borrows money from friends or relatives and never (or rarely) pays them back?


'Scrounger' would be a suitable word for you.

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