Imagine Alice does not like Bob. This is unfortunate because they are both my friends, and we are at a restaurant together.

I ask the party what they'd like. Bob remarks, "you know, I've really had a hankering for ribs recently". Whereupon Alice objects and rants that Bob 'only talks about himself' or some such other tendentious misinterpretation of Bob's comments - nothing Bob has said here or elsewhere reflects self-centeredness, but it is a useful opportunity for Alice to find fault all the same.

Is there a word for this kind of deliberate and incincere offense-seeking? I am not sure if 'tendentiousness' or 'fault-finding' are specific enough.

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    Get better friends. – deadrat Nov 27 '16 at 0:58
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    In football this is called flopping, and in basketball it's called working the refs. In social situations, not sure. There is surely a word. – user31341 Nov 27 '16 at 1:04
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    Well, there's "touchy". – Hot Licks Nov 27 '16 at 1:09
  • Your example is about someone determined to find fault not take offence. In which case this is a duplicate english.stackexchange.com/questions/255949/… – Martin Smith Nov 27 '16 at 12:48
  • @Martin Smith - your example is of a person determined to find faults at large. Mine is of a person determined to find faults with only an individual. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Nov 27 '16 at 13:06

There are several words like quarrelsome, argumentative & confrontational (may be more) but the closest I can find to your (example) scenario is antagonistic. (See the example from ODO below which is pretty close to yours).




1 Showing or feeling active opposition or hostility towards someone or something:

‘He was rude and antagonistic to my friends, kept picking arguments and was often deliberately provocative, manipulating people into tense arguments.’

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    Antagonistic fits the bill very nicely. – Rudi Nov 27 '16 at 10:51

Alice is a stirrer.

(Aka a shit stirrer or pot stirrer.)

Perhaps this is too general since it is not limited to the incincere offense-seeking


British informal. A person who deliberately causes trouble between others by spreading rumours or gossip.
‘Unlike Walter, he is a stirrer, a deliberately provocative commentator and a freewheeling iconoclast, infamous for his relentless critique of the American government and military.’

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You might say Alice is captious:

Tending to find fault or raise petty objections: ‘a captious teacher’

From Oxford Dictionaries.

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Although not directly related to taking offense, the two words that immediately came to mind were


adjective ​

often arguing or wanting to argue:




Opposing or rejecting popular opinion or current practice:

Contrarian fits less, but it summons an image of someone who wants to or is looking for an excuse to disagree with someone for one reason or another.

Alice is being intentionally arguementative or contrarian as a means of expressing her dislike of Bob.

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