How would you describe a person who "is looking for problems" with one adjective?


"A person who purposefully does something unnecessary for a particular reason (i.e. curiosity?), from which they won't get any joy or profit, but which might start an argument or cause problems/complications."


Imagine the situation when you are in the underground parking lot, where places are grouped by 3 and each of this groups is partitioned with pillars. Now, there are 2 ways of parking your car. One is to park it at the place of the group, where all 3 places are free. This is a regular behavior. Another one is to park your car on the place next to another car, which is not parked right between the markings on the ground (taking up some space of your parking place), so if you park your car on the place next to it, it will probably partially obstruct driver's door opening., while you can enter/leave your car with ease. It is the only way to park your car at this particular place, you can't park it so that the driver of the adjacent car won't struggle to get into their car (they should be able to get in, but they will struggle a bit), you haven't done anything "against the law", you didn't really get any profit from it, but you might have caused a problem to another person (especially if they are not skinny), who is not keen on parking their vehicle correctly. How could you describe yourself in this situation with an adjective?

  • 1
    @PV22 yes, the actor is aware that it MIGHT cause something negative. Their intention is not to cause the argument, but rather to ascertain something or assure themself.
    – Eduard
    Aug 9, 2017 at 12:29
  • 3
    I think we need a sample sentence. The example you give suggests a noun answer - A person ...
    – Stu W
    Aug 9, 2017 at 13:17
  • 4
    The title of your question indicates the intent to cause problems but then you say they are not trying to cause problems but are only curious. I am confused.
    – thomj1332
    Aug 9, 2017 at 13:42
  • 4
    The person looking for problems is the person that did not park between the lines.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 9, 2017 at 15:52
  • 3
    "Elaboration" doesn't really match "Examples".
    – Kaz
    Aug 9, 2017 at 21:00

16 Answers 16


If it's deliberate - antagonistic (link)

1. acting in opposition; opposing, especially mutually. 2. hostile; unfriendly.

or troublesome (link)

  1. causing trouble, annoyance, or difficulty; vexatious

or more awkwardly - troublemaking

If it's careless/reckless, maybe boorish (link)

  1. of or like a boor; unmannered; crude; insensitive.

or loutish (link)

  1. like or characteristic of a lout; awkward; clumsy; boorish.

Edit: Leaving my original response as is, but to address the elaboration on the original question:

I think the question of motive is really important in this scenario. In your parking lot example, the person parking outside the lines has done something wrong. But I can see plenty of motivations for the person parking up close to their driver-side door, and each infers a range of different adjectives.

  • They're doing it to deliberately inconvenience a wrongdoer, or demonstrate the wrongdoing to the perpetrator. (antagonistic, indignant, vindictive)
  • They're doing it because the parking spot next to the wrongdoer is superior in some way to an empty group of spaces, and they refuse to modify their behaviour just because someone else has done the wrong thing. (unyielding, obstinate, stubborn, uncompromising, adamant)
  • They're doing it in the hope that it will start a confrontation with the wrongdoer. (confrontational, pugnatious, belligerent, bellicose, combative, adversarial)
  • They're doing it so they're not inconveniencing a third-party by parking outside their own lines. (righteous, virtuous, principled)

I think antagonistic is still probably the best general answer, but hopefully some consideration of the different motives might narrow it down to something more accurate.

  • Thank you for such an elaborate answer, but I am trying to find the adjective for such type of person, not a noun.
    – Eduard
    Aug 9, 2017 at 10:24
  • Right! Let me revise.
    – Vocoder
    Aug 9, 2017 at 10:35
  • Not exactly, what I am looking for. Let me restate the explanation and examples. I am looking for an adjective for "A person who purposefully does something unnecessary for a particular reason (i.e. curiosity?), from which they won't get joy or profit, but which might start an argument or cause problems/complications."
    – Eduard
    Aug 9, 2017 at 11:13
  • See also "annoying". Aug 9, 2017 at 12:36
  • Vocoder, I would suggest removing boorish and loutish, as the OP has now specified that this action is undertaken "purposefully." However, your other words are good suggestions, especially antagonistic.
    – vpn
    Aug 9, 2017 at 14:26

Instigate [in-sti-geyt] /verb (used with object)

  1. to cause by incitement; foment.

  2. to urge, provoke, or incite to some action or course.

adjective form: instigative

Source: Dictionary.com


Provocative [pruh-vok-uh-tiv] /adjective

  1. tending or serving to provoke; inciting, stimulating, irritating, or vexing.

Source: Dictionary.com

  • 2
    +1 for Provocative... Instigate doesn't fit imo
    – bendl
    Aug 9, 2017 at 12:38
  • Provocative seems reasonable. Let's wait some time for other responses and if nothing better pops up, I will select your answer. Thank you, @PV22
    – Eduard
    Aug 9, 2017 at 15:24
  • @Eduard that's funny because based on your updates, I would have thought you'd prefer "self-serving". FYI for any multi-post police, this is an example of why posting separate answers for different interpretations of the question is helpful for differentiation. Aug 9, 2017 at 15:28
  • +1 for instigator, exactly what I was thinking. @bendl what makes you say it doesn't work?
    – scohe001
    Aug 9, 2017 at 20:24
  • When I made the comment the adjective form of instigate was not provided, which was my main concern. Now that it is added, however, I still have some trouble with it simply because it is not a terribly common word and sounds odd to my ear, when any of the other, more common answers would fit just as well.
    – bendl
    Aug 9, 2017 at 20:50

There are two expressions I'd use to describe exactly the kind of person described by the OP. One of them is dialect, and the other is vulgar.

In Scotland and N Ireland (maybe elsewhere too?), a person who enjoys inciting arguments and disputes, or is generally oppositional, is described as contrary. This is pronounced contrAIRy, with a strong stress on the 'a'.

More generally, a deliberate and gratuitous troublemaker can be called a shit-stirrer.

  • 1
    Your usage of "contrary" is known in the US as well, particularly in the southeastern states. (The emphasis is on the first syllable in US pronunciation, though.) Aug 9, 2017 at 15:48
  • That's interesting Michael. I wonder if it reflects the Scotch-Irish influence in that area. I've never heard the word used in this sense by English people, for example. Aug 9, 2017 at 15:53
  • Mary, Mary, quite contrary ... Pretty well known rhyme
    – Stu W
    Aug 9, 2017 at 16:24
  • +1 for "shit-stirrer", although I hear "shit-disturber" more often. And the OP is looking for an adjective, so "shit-disturbing" I guess?
    – jkf
    Aug 9, 2017 at 16:57
  • "Contrarian" may be a good form to add to the answer as well. Aug 12, 2017 at 13:02

Reckless [rek-lis] /adjective

  1. utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution;

Source: Dictionary.com


I like antagonistic; that said, the word that comes to my mind is



  1. hostile and aggressive. "a bull-necked, belligerent old man"

synonyms: hostile, aggressive, threatening, antagonistic, warlike, warmongering, hawkish, pugnacious, bellicose, truculent, confrontational, contentious, militant, combative

Confrontational works as well.


Audacious /adjective

  1. showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.
  2. showing an impudent lack of respect.

I think the second definition fits somewhat.

  • Great word, does not perfectly fit in this case, but I am glad that you wrote it. Thanks, @bendl !
    – Eduard
    Aug 9, 2017 at 15:25
  • It is not a bold risk if you realize what happens behind the curtain. Aug 9, 2017 at 18:05
  • Spelling: "Audacious" with a C.
    – Beanluc
    Aug 9, 2017 at 18:51
  • xD whoops... fixed
    – bendl
    Aug 9, 2017 at 18:56

I have a friend who can be like this. I would call him chaotic, in the sense that it is used for alignments in D&D:

Chaos implies freedom, adaptability, and flexibility. On the downside, chaos can include recklessness, resentment toward legitimate authority, arbitrary actions, and irresponsibility. Those who promote chaotic behavior say that only unfettered personal freedom allows people to express themselves fully and lets society benefit from the potential that its individuals have within them. -Wikipedia

Other possibilities include inconsiderate or divisive

  • Nice words, thanks, @Aliden. Inconsiderate would be the best out of three in this case.
    – Eduard
    Aug 9, 2017 at 15:27
  • @Eduard I can pull that out and post it as a separate answer if you think that would be clearer
    – Aliden
    Aug 9, 2017 at 15:28


a person who urges others to protest or rebel. "an activist and agitator who fought for striking miners" synonyms: troublemaker, rabble-rouser, agent provocateur, demagogue, incendiary;

Edit: this is the google definition. I can't find a way to link to it except to say to to google.com and type in agitator

  • 2
    Are you copy/pasting from somewhere? If so, please provide reference.
    – luchonacho
    Aug 9, 2017 at 14:07
  • 1
    Apart from the lack of references, it seems like this is near the best answer option Aug 9, 2017 at 15:02

Self-serving [self-sur-ving] /adjective

  1. preoccupied with one's own interests, often disregarding the truth or the interests, well-being, etc., of others.

Source: Dictionary.com


I'd call the person who parked this way a jerk. They are being jerkish.

They could also be described as inconsiderate or selfish.

selfish (adj.) 1. a. Devoted to or concerned with one's own advantage or welfare to the exclusion of regard for others. (OED)


"Vexatious" is the legal term for this.

LAW: denoting an action or the bringer of an action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the defendant.

In layman terms you could say "bothersome".


How about 'Nitpicker'

A nitpicker is a person who finds faults, however small or unimportant, everywhere they look. After seeing a movie, a nitpicker lists every tiny thing he or she didn't like about it. Use the informal nitpicker when you're talking about someone who is extremely critical, even when those criticisms seem inconsequential.

Source : vocabulary.com



M/W: apt or disposed to quarrel in an often petty manner


This relies on the person's motivation being to cause trouble and be a part of it. If someone has no motivation to cause trouble, then they are merely self-centered with a proclivity to be in situations where that affects others.


Miscreant [mis-kree-uh nt]/ adjective

  1. depraved, villainous, or base.
  2. Archaic. holding a false or unorthodox religious belief; heretical.

Villainous or Wicked can also be used depending on the context.

Source: Dictionary.com


busybody -- a person who pries into or meddles in the affairs of others.


Why does not curious suffice? A person who is more focussed on learning new things than caring about the consequences of whatever seems necessary to learn those things.

And how could you possibly say that stilling curiosity would not bring joy or profit to anyone? Do you have brain damage?

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