Imagine the following:

Person A does something foolish

B : Haha, what an idiot you are! (said jokingly)

A : Haha (Happily accept the insult)

Some minutes later, Person B does something foolish

A : Haha, what an idiot you are! (said jokingly)

B : (Triggered) Shut up, don't call me that!

NOTE : Both A and B are friends, not strangers or enemies

What do we call a person who can give criticism but never take it? Or someone who can give insults but never take them?


3 Answers 3



a tendency to get easily upset or offended by the things other people say or do He has such a thin skin that he can't even take a little good-natured teasing.


Not a single word you are looking for, but found a good expression for this:

He can dish it but he can't take it

this expression means 'he is very good at criticizing others but he can't accept criticism from others'

  • 3
    While this person must be thin-skinned to not be able to take criticisms (that are not malevolent); this does not address the double standard where this person allows himself to criticize others; but does not allow others to criticize him. That is the main focus of OP's question, as I understand it.
    – Flater
    May 31, 2017 at 9:34
  • @Flater Agree! this speaks about just one side.
    – Q...
    May 31, 2017 at 9:45
  • 2
    dish it out, not dish it.
    – Drew
    May 31, 2017 at 17:33
  • Perhaps ironically thin-skinned?
    – jxh
    Jun 1, 2017 at 0:02

I would call this person a hypocrite:

hypocrite (noun)

A hypocritical person.
‘the story tells of respectable Ben who turns out to be a cheat and a hypocrite’

A hypocrite is someone who applies rules only when it suits them. Most commonly, they allow themselves more freedom than others.

edit While it is usually a form of selfish behavior (allowing yourself more freedom than others), hypocrites can also allow someone else more freedom than others, without being particularly selfish. Both are considered hypocrisy.

In your case, the rule being applied hypocritically is "being allowed to criticize someone". He allows himself to criticize others (and will argue to others that he is allowed to), but he does not allow others to criticize him (and will argue to others that they are not allowed to).

If you want a way to address what he is doing without calling him out personally, you could use double standard

double standard (noun)

A rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups.
‘the double standards employed to deal with ordinary people and those in the City’

A hypocrite inherently uses double standards.

However, stating that someone is using a double standard is a more polite way of calling them a hypocrite. The latter is considered a direct critique of the person's character, as opposed arguing against what he is currently doing.
Consider the same difference between "You took my stapler" and "You are a thief". Technically, both are correct. But the former is a softer approach that does not condemn the person, but rather a single action.


I want to highlight here that hypocrisy can also apply in cases where there are different topics being discussed, even if they are applied to the same people.

Imagine a single person saying both of these things:

  • People should be allowed to carry a registered firearm. It is up to that person to use their firearm responsibly.

  • People should not have any (illegal) drugs on their person. You can't make sure that they won't be reckless, e.g. driving while under the influence.

In the first case, he argues that people should be considered capable of being responsible. In the second case, he argues that people should not be considered capable of being responsible.

This is still a form of hypocrisy. Even though this person is applying the rules to the same set of people (everyone); the arguments he uses to justify both positions are contradictory.

Hypocrisy can be caused by selectively applying a rule; or it can be caused by trying to apply two different rules that are justified by contradictory arguments.



Narcissistic personality disorder is found more commonly in men. The cause is unknown but likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others' feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement.

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