When someone tries to talk another into doing something, and accuses them of being afraid of doing it in order to spur enthusiasm in the latter and make them try to prove they are not. Is there a single word in English to express this tactic?

e.g. From Game of Thrones (Season 1):

Ranger: "We should head back to the wall!"

Ranger's Commander: "Did the dead frighten you?"

  • 7
    The usual verb is dare, and the usual construction is dare s.o. to do s.t. See triple-dog dare. Commented May 5, 2018 at 23:32
  • 1
    I’d say they were taunting or baiting them.
    – Jim
    Commented May 5, 2018 at 23:35
  • It's not accuse someone of being afraid. It's just saying someone is afraid.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 18:28

5 Answers 5


I can't think of any one that is specific to accusing one of being scared, but I'd pick goad


to jeer wiktionary

To speak or shout derisively; mock.

To abuse vocally; taunt: jeered the speaker off the stage.

A scoffing or taunting remark or shout.

  • edited my choice of a word for the tactic
    – lbf
    Commented May 5, 2018 at 23:49


From Collins via TFD

to persuade (someone) by flattery or pleasing talk to do what one wants; wheedle; coax

It’s perhaps a "nicer" word than you were looking for, and maybe not quite right. If you say someone is afraid to do something, then the implication is that they would be brave if they did do it. That’s where the "flattery" comes in.


There are a number of words for using derogatory statements for influence. Instigate and Incite are the most common. Your example is better defined by, Inflame; provoke or intensify (strong feelings, especially anger) in someone. And, the word 'provoke' could also be substituted. Provoke; stimulate or incite (someone) to do or feel something, especially by arousing anger in them.



Shrewd or devious management, especially for one's own advantage

American Heritage Dictionary

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