Think about a sports player who, upon getting injury, does not tell themselves, "It's fine, I have the team that relies on me, I can continue playing", but instead shows it off, as to get others' care and slack off a bit.

Another example would be a handicapped person, who does not try to mitigate their disability and find appropriate work, but instead puts the disability forward and is always asking for favour.

Is there an adjective describing such an attitude or a verb meaning sticking to it?

  • Maybe disingenuous? Jul 8, 2016 at 12:18
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    Related: Any English equivalent for the Persian idiom “to play dead like a mouse”? 'Play the disability card' seems to fit well and is not unknown. But there must be a continuum from 'unfit for any work' through 'unfit for the work I did previously' to 'malingering'. Jul 8, 2016 at 12:20
  • Would you accept an idiom? The athlete or handicapped person can be considered to be "playing it up" with regard to their impairment. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/play+up Jul 8, 2016 at 12:22
  • Think of the sports player who, upon getting an injury, does not tell his coach about it and continues playing. He then is unable to make a critical play because of his injury and loses the game. What would you call that? Jul 8, 2016 at 12:22
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    Wikipedia defines victim mentality as when a person tends to regard him or herself as a victim of the negative actions of others, but personally I think that's too restrictive. I'm more up for this definition in The Huffington Post, saying it's when someone feels they're a victim of circumstances or other people’s actions. Jul 8, 2016 at 12:36

3 Answers 3


A good word for this is malingerer. As Dictionary.com defines it:

to pretend illness, especially in order to shirk one's duty, avoid work, etc.

It is also used in the sense of exaggerating illness or disability. Merriam-Webster defines it this way:

to pretend or exaggerate incapacity or illness (as to avoid duty or work)

There's a whole Wikipedia article devoted to describing malingering, but most people will probably be familiar with the term from football/soccer. It describes when a player suddenly throws himself to the ground, faking an injury, in a pathetic attempt to draw a foul on another player.

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    The latter is also known colloquially in soccer and increasingly other sports such as basketball and hockey as "taking a dive". Jul 8, 2016 at 14:45

I suggest feign - verb -

1) to give a false appearance of : induce as a false impression

2) to assert as if true


After the soccer player's fall, he feigned a serious leg injury to justify his poor performance.


The sports player case depends on whether the injury is real or exaggerated. Ignoring real injuries could be termed stupid, or carrying on "gung ho"

Urban dictionary: gung ho, mandarin g0nghé .. soldier slang from 1940's meaning to be psyched out for war.

Note if the injury is faked, the sports player could be described as "taking a dive", meaning to try and lose deliberately, or to be "going for an oscar" meaning to act out a facade in the hope of getting positive referee intervention.

A word that comes to mind for the case of focusing on a disability in hope of reward is victim, used in contexts such as in "always playing the victim" or "playing the victim card". There's a great quote from the movie "Adams Family Values" after Amanda volunteers to take part in a life saving demonstration:

Amanda: I'll be the victim!

Wednesday: All your life.

You could also use the phrase "to milk something for all it's worth" in the context of a questionable display of weaknesses.

For single word answers on opposides of the spectrum I would suggest "gung ho" and "victim".

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