I am looking for a word which can be used to describe the situation where someone has previously done good deeds towards another and then subsequently wrongs them in some way. This is NOT betrayal.

The best way to clarify the situation I mean is to constrast it with it's opposite, which I would call "redemption", i.e. the scenario where someone has previously wronged another and then does something to make up for it.

An example to clarify; if John beats up Bob, and then subsequently saves Bob from getting run over by a car, we would say that John has redeemed himself, that this was an act of redemption. If, in an alternative universe, John saves Bob from getting run over by a car, and then at some point down the line beats him up, we recognize that John has negated his good deed and Bob is no longer in his debt. What is the word that best describes this act?

The best I can come up with is some form of the phrase "negated goodwill", but I was hoping to find a single word that would fit this meaning. Edit: A better phrase would be good too.

  • 1
    @Charon that implies that Bob beat John up in the example, ie "John was good to Bob, then Bob was bad to John". The OP is asking about "John was good to Bob, then John was bad to Bob". Jun 29, 2016 at 11:57
  • @MaxWilliams - good point.
    – Charon
    Jun 29, 2016 at 11:58
  • John joined the Dark Side
    – NVZ
    Jun 29, 2016 at 23:48
  • When someone we consider our friend does something harmful, it hurts, and the person doing it is being hurtful.
    – Stu W
    Jul 2, 2016 at 1:13
  • John has not redeemed himself. He has at every turn exerted his dominance over Bob (altruism, notwithstanding as it is fundamentally self-serving). I will have to go with : domineering.
    – Mazura
    Jul 2, 2016 at 1:32

3 Answers 3


In slang, you can say "to dis", as in disrespect. Alternate spelling is "diss". See: http://grammarist.com/spelling/dis-diss/ An example: I thought we were friends. But man, when you left me hanging with those concert tickets - what a dis! You dissed me!"


Disappoint? Let down? Because it seems to me the hurt is all the stronger because of the shift in relationship and beliefs about the nature of that relationship that must occur after the wrongdoing is done.

  • We're looking for long answers that provide explanation and context. A good answer is complete and explains why it is right, ideally with citations. Answers that lack support may be removed. For an introduction to the site, take the Tour. For help writing a good answer, see How to Answer.
    – MetaEd
    Aug 2, 2016 at 15:04

A common expression is to "Sully a reputation"

to damage or ruin the good quality of (something)

-Merriam Webster

And as a synonym, "Defile" might also work for your usage.

a : to corrupt the purity or perfection of

-Merriam Webster

EDIT: I thought of a much better word:

Treachery: an act of harming someone who trusts you - Merriam Webster

Treachery is a little less specific than treason which normally denotes overthrowing a governmental body. However, "treason" does have a secondary definition that includes treachery so it could also be acceptable.

  • Thanks. These are fairly close. I'm still trying to find something more specific to the scenario I'm describing though, i.e. someone doing something bad after doing something good. Jul 2, 2016 at 8:38

Your Answer

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

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