I wonder if there is a word or a few words or phases that describe a person very often:

  • judge a person based on one or two tiny details or critise harshly over small mistakes that one made (probably by accident)

  • ignore the reason behind the details or the mistakes

  • often use exaggeration and have twisted logic

For example, one employee has always been punctual but 5 minutes late for one meeting because he was in a car accident. The boss forgot about all the times that the employee was on time and criticized him as 'worthless', 'looser' (exagerated criticising) and refused to listen to any explanation.

Being late was the fact, but the boss is ____ to judge the employee as a person based on this one incidence.

Thanks for the replies, I think these two are the closest: 'judgmental' (too quick to criticise people); 'nitpicking' (find faults in small details)

EDIT: ---- I found that this question is marked as 'duplicate' as 'A single word for someone who is not pleased no matter how hard you try'. The answer to that question is 'implacable', I realize that it does fit well in the 'boss' example, maybe because bosses are often described as pure evil, it is easy to link, but what I was searching for wasn't completely about the evil doing, more about deriving the (often wrong) judgement on your entire personality from one small incidence.


You were having dinner with some friends. There was tea, you took one sip without noticing the steam, found out that it was too hot, by instinct, you swallowed it with your mouth slightly open, which made a noise that sounded like you slurped (detail/mistake). When you went back, your friends made jokes of you and told everyone that you slurp when you drink. They pointed out that it was because you were born in a small village, so you are 'barbarian', you must slurp a lot before you came to the city (judgement). The fact is that you were born in a village but slurping has nothing to do with it (friends have no logic). The incidence at the dinner was because the tea was hot. Your friends know the tea was hot but still make fun of you (ignore the reason) about your (background, status, family etc.).

These friends may talk to you, help you, but they still think you as 'barbarian' because of one incidence. They also laugh with you at others (in the same way) when they find a new target, so you want to say to your friends: "Hey, you are ____ / it is ____ to treat people in this way, please stop doing that."

  • 1
    Maybe it's more reasonable to string together a couple of adjectives to get the right level of intensity as to how judgmental this person is such as "harshly judgmental", "punitively judgmental", "cruelly judgmental", "exceedingly judgmental", etc. I really think "judgmental" should be part of the description. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 16:29
  • 1
    A perfectionist that wants to know what have you done for me lately? Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 16:32
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    Sounds like a "nit picker".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 17:14
  • 1
    Fault-finding martinet comes to mind.
    – Beta
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 17:15
  • 2
    You could call them a "nitpicker", if you want to emphasize picking at small details. Doesn't quite fit for your example sentence, though.
    – Marsh
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 21:33

10 Answers 10


Unforgiving means intolerant of any mistakes, regardless of size, reasoning, or infrequency. It is often used in contexts like yours:


It was unforgiving of him to judge the employee in such a way.


My choice would be hypercritical. The only disadvantage being that lazy listeners will think you are saying "hypocritical".

  • 1
    It's weird that they're not antonyms!
    – user541686
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 4:20

These people are often negatively characterized as punctilious. In particular, "punctilious implies minute, even excessive attention to fine points." Punctilious can be used as either a positive or negative word.

  • I like this word, and I think it fits the question perfectly. Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 5:15

I'd suggest, unjust

Something or someone that is unjust is just not fair. An unjust boss might fire you the very first time you're late for work.


  • It would fit very well if the ending of the example story was 'the boss fired the employee'. I was trying to describe the boss being abusive by using rude words against the employee over tiny mistakes.
    – J. Wilde
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 12:32
  • @J.Wilde being late for work because you were involved in a car accident is not a tiny mistake, it is a legitimate and honest explanation for not being punctual on that day. Any boss who screams, shouts and insults their employee because they arrived 5 minutes late is unjust or unfair, and I'd add irrational and illogical too.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 6:21

A person who constantly scrutinizes the work of another person is called a control freak:

a person who attempts to dictate how everything is done around them


Or you could try back-seat driver as a sort of metaphor:

a passenger in a vehicle who is not controlling the vehicle but who excessively comments on the driver's actions and decisions in an attempt to control the vehicle



You could describe the boss as harsh.

‘Robbins's disciplinarianism won him a reputation as a harsh and cruel taskmaster.’

source: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/harsh meaning #2.


The boss was being obsessively critical.


Perhaps maniac 1. A psychotic or otherwise mentally ill person who exhibits violent or bizarre behavior. Not used in psychiatric diagnosis. 2. A person who has an excessive enthusiasm or desire for something: a sports maniac. 3. A person who acts in a wildly irresponsible way: maniacs on the highway.


I'll go with Judgemental, which means having or displaying an overly critical point of view. Hypercritical, Overcritical are synonyms of the word judgemental.


Maybe you're looking for a nitpicker: A person who is excessively concerned with or critical of inconsequential details, especially habitually. However this term is more colloquial.

  • nitpicker is apt. Is the definition yours? If it isn't, you should put the definition in quotes, and give the source of the definition and a link, if it is online.
    – ab2
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 22:21
  • It's an amalgam of two dictionary.com entries: nitpick and nitpicker. I'll remember that for next time, thank you. Though it is a bit of a "nitpick." Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 22:30
  • You won't call it a nitpick when someone quotes you without attributing your work to you.
    – ab2
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 22:43

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