I'm looking for a word that describes a person who has to fight against a powerful opponent on a regular basis. This does not involve a competition, like some kind of sport.

Example :

Lawyers willing to take on powerful companies are hard to find, however James from the law firm Crane & Schmidt, regularly lock horns against major companies.

So in the above example what would someone like James be called, who has to regularly fight against companies/entities that are much more powerful than him?

  • @EdwinAshworth I've checked the link that you have provided. Consequently I've changed the wordings in the question as well as the example sentence so that members realise what exactly I need. I'm hoping this question is not a possible duplicate.
    – Steven M
    Jul 29, 2017 at 10:40
  • If it's still a duplicate, there's a possibility you've already got your answer. But I think you're expecting too much from a single word now. Jul 29, 2017 at 10:43
  • @EdwinAshworth The link that you have provided refers to a competition. So a word like "underdog" (provided as an answer) is probably the appropriate word.But the scenario I'm referring to does not involve competition as such.
    – Steven M
    Jul 29, 2017 at 10:56
  • 2
    'Underdog' is obviously metaphorical even when used in a sporting context, and broadening (visualising a legal struggle as say a boxing match) licenses the non-sporting usage. Jul 29, 2017 at 11:01
  • Not plane nor bird nor even frog. It's just little old me -- Underdog!
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 29, 2017 at 13:04

2 Answers 2


Giant-slayer would work, especially in your requested context. It works well because it casts a positive spin on the firm's niche place in the market.

James doesn't want to be known as an underdog...

...Jack wants to be known as a GIANT-SLAYER!

(I mean, which would you rather hire if you were up against a huge corporation's lawyers?)

For added panache, perhaps James would be willing to go by Jack? This practice is not uncommon according to Wikipedia and in 2013, a movie came out called Jack the Giant Slayer which would mean many people will already associate the name with the label.

Also, OED has a reference to the term from the 19th century:

giant-slayer  n.a1878   G. G. Scott Lect. Mediæval Archit. (1879) I. 38   The giant-slayers of old romance.

Plus, the moniker giant killer is already taken by another lawyer! Attorney Willie E. Gary, according to his website,

"earned the reputation as 'The Giant Killer' by taking down some of America’s most well- known corporate giants on behalf of his clients."


The most obvious answer to me would be underdog or possibly dark horse. If a single-word answer isn't required, though, you could also emphasize the long odds and the size difference by making reference to David and Goliath--especially since David Hayes shares a common name!

  • I've changed the example & the wording of the question to better reflect what I need. Apologies for changing after you have posted an answer.
    – Steven M
    Jul 29, 2017 at 10:39
  • Hmmm. I still think these are the closest available options, especially because you say "has to fight against a powerful opponent". If you're looking for a word that describes somebody who is always looking for fights with more powerful opponents, there may be a single word out there, but I don't think I know it.
    – endemic
    Jul 29, 2017 at 11:12

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