I'm looking for a term that describes when a person is pretending to be offended in order to end a confrontation. The key here is that the offense is perceived only because the person wishes to use it as leverage to leave the discussion.

Below is a poor example, but it's the best generic one I can come up with:

A: [Does action].

B: I think it's mean when you do [action].

A: You called me mean! We're done here.

  • 2
    How dare you. ragequit
    – Mitch
    Jun 20, 2018 at 19:55
  • Comments on two answers below complain about how "to escape a conversation" is left out. I challenge anyone to produce a single word just for that part. (not really, just saying) - The part of the sentence that's actually clunky: pretending outrage, is well answered IMO.
    – Mazura
    Jun 21, 2018 at 4:30
  • there's really no "common phrase" here. you're basically just asking us to "Help describe something."
    – Fattie
    Jun 21, 2018 at 5:30
  • 1
    "I challenge anyone to produce a single word..." right, there's no "challenge", it's just a non-question and should be closed.
    – Fattie
    Jun 21, 2018 at 5:35
  • I appreciate everyone's comments and have accepted feigned indignation as the best answer for my situation. This was for use in conversation, and not for help in script writing. I expected a word (or phrase) like gaslight, or scapegoat, to exist for the above situation. Since the community hasn't come up with a better answer, feigned indignation will have to do. Thanks again!
    – Jim
    Jun 21, 2018 at 14:43

5 Answers 5


"Feigned indignation" is a phrase that can describe this situation. It clarifies that the offended individual is only making a show of being offended, and doesn't truly feel hurt.

(This is where it differs from "took umbrage" which connotes that the individual actually had those feelings, and isn't just pretending.)

Feigned means pretend or fictitious. Indignation means strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, or insulting.

  • 1
    definitely covers "pretending outrage", but not the second half, "to escape a conversation"
    – wrymug
    Jun 20, 2018 at 19:04
  • I believe that's also an example of a particular type of strawman argument, a rhetorical device that fixates on something essentially meaningless as its main focus. Here, its intent is to simply end the debate. Jun 20, 2018 at 20:16
  • @rosslh Maybe, but I think you can feign indignation for a variety of reasons, and "to escape a conversation" is one of them. Jun 20, 2018 at 22:32
  • @Headblender no argument there. For what it's worth, I think it may be better stylistically to write that a character feigned indignation and then stormed off, rather than trying to find an obscure word that describes both actions.
    – wrymug
    Jun 20, 2018 at 22:41
  • 1
    exactly as @rosslh says, this is (one of many phrases) that is just another simile for "pretending outrage", but has no connection at all to the second half, "to escape a conversation". (You might as well just use "pretending outrage", which is more precise.)
    – Fattie
    Jun 22, 2018 at 2:27

rage-quit or ragequit dictionary.com and oxford

to angrily abandon an activity or situation that has become frustrating

credit @mitch

  • Rage quit captures the idea of leaving the argument due to outrage, but that anger could be justified. It's a good suggestion though, and certainly captures the childish nature of the departure.
    – Jim
    Jun 20, 2018 at 23:23
  • 3
    Beyond being justified or not, a ragequit typically implies that the feelings are at least genuine, which does not match the meaning sought by the question.
    – KRyan
    Jun 21, 2018 at 0:18
  • 1
    this illustrates the total impossibility of "answering" such a writing discussion.
    – Fattie
    Jun 21, 2018 at 5:31

"Took umbrage" is the descriptive which leaps to mind for me.

From Merriam-Webster:

: a feeling of pique or resentment at some often fancied slight or insult
took umbrage at the speaker's remarks

  • 2
    addresses outrage but not "to escape a conversation"
    – lbf
    Jun 20, 2018 at 21:11

The simple correct answer is there is no such word or phrase in English.

Note that, often the correct answer to SWRs is exactly that: there's no such word/phrase.

  • 1
    Thank you for your comments. However, I was looking for a term to use in conversation to describe such a situation, and not seeking script writing advice. I was expecting something akin to scapegoat or gaslight would exist for this situation.
    – Jim
    Jun 21, 2018 at 15:08
  • "I was expecting something akin to scapegoat or gaslight would exist for this situation." your question makes perfect sense, but there is no such term. MrWonderful's is the closest related usage.
    – Fattie
    Jun 22, 2018 at 2:25
  • 1
    @Jim For 'a term to use in conversation' you might just say, "What a cop-out!" The sense of feigned indignation is only implied, but you draw attention to your belief that the speaker is just making an excuse. Of course, you could always say, "Feigning indignation is such a cop-out!"
    – Egox
    Jun 22, 2018 at 14:40

'Fake' or 'Mock' Outrage

I've heard this phrase commonly used for the situation you've described.

Fake: not true, real, or genuine : counterfeit, sham
Mock: (4)a : to imitate (someone or something) closely : mimic
Outrage: (3) : the anger and resentment aroused by injury or insult

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