I'm looking for something that's catchy and succinct. 'Exploit' is a good word for 'take advantage of' but it doesn't take into account someone's psychological weaknesses.

example sentences:

"By taking advantage of her substance abuse in order to get sex, he was _________ her."


"She took advantage of his bad memory by repeatedly getting him to wash the dishes more often than not. She was _________ him."

  • 1
    Pull a fast one, cash in on, capitalize.
    – vickyace
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 19:39
  • 4
    Would "manipulate" do the trick ?
    – Aluna
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 19:43
  • 1
    Will the down-voters show some courtesy!
    – vickyace
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 20:00
  • I don't think there's anything in 'manipulate' that is connotative of the victim's psychological weaknesses. It's possible to use it in that sense but you would have to do so explicitly.
    – user180089
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:59
  • 1
    For the first one you could say figuratively and literally screwing her. Since screw = Slang. to cheat or take advantage of(someone).
    – k1eran
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 3:21

6 Answers 6




Oxford dictionaries

verb: Manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity:


dictionary.com definition

  1. to cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation:


I think that's the closest I'm gonna get to what I want..


Try play to a weakness. Here's part of a review of a book about Simón Bolívar, who led the campaigns in the 1820s to oust the Spanish from their South American colonies:

Though the author describes many battles, it is all too much like a game. As far as I could tell Bolívar’s main tactic was to attack head-on. There is little indication he studied the terrain, disposed his forces according to it, tried to understand his opponents’ mind and play to a weakness, as did Robert Lee.


This can be known as playing head games

Also playing mind games

Merriam Webster says

Definition of head game

and of mind games:

: a psychological tactic used to manipulate or intimidate —usually used in plural < played mind games with his opponent >


You can reduce your second example to one, neater, sentence, by using "milking", which is a near-perfect synonym for "taking advantage". Also, I would use "absent-mindedness" instead of "bad memory". Also "repeatedly" and "more often than not" are, well, repetitive. Now, in a cleaned-up form, may be "taking advantage" doesn't sound so bad. Which is better?

"She was milking his absent-mindedness by repeatedly getting him to wash the dishes."

"She was taking advantage" of his absent-mindedness by repeatedly getting him to wash the dishes."


To subjugate has the connotation that you are referring to:

  • to treat yourself, your wishes, or your beliefs as being less important than other people or their wishes or beliefs:
    • She subjugated herself to her mother's needs.
    • Reporters must subjugate personal political convictions to their professional commitment to balance.

(Cambridge Dictionary)


Exploit seems like the proper word to me.

  • 1
    This could be a good answer if you include a definition for the word (and a citation for the definition).
    – Laurel
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 2:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.