Is there a single English word to describe the attitude conveyed when someone destroys an object/opportunity for others simply because he/she cannot benefit from it?

For example, suppose a formerly wealthy financier goes bankrupt and his creditors arrive to haul away his assets which include some expensive artworks. However before the creditors can get to the art, the bankrupt financier burns them and declares that "if I can't have it, nobody can!"

How can you describe his actions?

closed as off-topic by tchrist Jul 22 '18 at 21:21

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  • "Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered. For help writing a good word or phrase request, see: About single word requests" – tchrist
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  • If you ask for a phrase that might be possible. If you insist on a single word, I suggest you're on a wild-goose chase – Robbie Goodwin Jul 22 '18 at 20:37
  • @RobbieGoodwin why? There are words like "jealous", that come close. Perhaps there is one to describe this more closely – CodyBugstein Jul 22 '18 at 21:10
  • Please include a sentence showing how you would use the hypothetical word. – tchrist Jul 22 '18 at 21:22
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    CodyBugstein the point is that however close it comes, "jealous" doesn't fit your bill… and until you cite some, with justification, who can guess what others you might have meant? The "why" is because after listening for 60 years, I assure you there ain't no such critter… though there just might be a phrase. why is that hard to accept, please? – Robbie Goodwin Jul 22 '18 at 22:03
  • "Spiteful". Not every concept has a solitary word which captures the sentiment, but by chance, this one does. – Mitch Aug 6 '18 at 17:54

"Dog in the manger" is the phrase used to describe this attitude. "Spiteful" might serve if you're bent on a single word.

"The story and metaphor of The Dog in the Manger derives from an old Greek fable which has been transmitted in several different versions. Interpreted variously over the centuries, the metaphor is now used to speak of one who spitefully prevents others from having something for which one has no use. Although the story was ascribed to Aesop's Fables in the 15th century, there is no ancient source that does so."


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    This is the best descrption, and since it is sometimes called "a dog-in-the-manger attitude", it just about qualifies as a single word. – Tim Lymington supports Monica Jul 22 '18 at 21:45
  • I would have answered "(out of) spite," but I see that's here too. ;) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 24 '18 at 13:51

The selfish bankrupt financier burns them and declares that "if I can't have it, nobody can!"

chiefly concerned with one's own interest, advantage, etc, esp to the total exclusion of the interests of others

in psychology: Yale Study

“Our study provides the first evidence of a non-human primate choosing to punish others simply because they have more,” said Leimgruber, first author of the paper. “This sort of ‘if I can't have it, no one can’ response is consistent with psychological spite, a behavior previously believed unique to humans.”

  • Yes selfish is the closest I could think of, but this is something more than selfish since it's not that he doesn't want to share with others, but doesn't want others to have it at all, even though he will anyways not be able to have it. – CodyBugstein Jul 22 '18 at 21:11
  • "Psychological spite" is a good one ! – CodyBugstein Jul 22 '18 at 23:15

I would think of a phrase like that as 'stuck-up' or 'snobby' given the description.

  • @RobbieGoodwin This was just my own interpretation, that's all. Hence why I posted it as a potential answer in case the OP agreed – prayreadgame Jul 25 '18 at 0:15
  • Could you make a Comment, then? – Robbie Goodwin Jul 26 '18 at 22:52
  • @RobbieGoodwin I mean, yes, I physically could have, but why can't I make an answer? I'm new to stack exchange and part of that is taking a chance posting an answer...I'm not seeing the problem here :( – prayreadgame Jul 27 '18 at 21:14
  • Thanks and please, go up to the top-most, right-most part of any ELU page, single-click the right-most icon on the black header line,  Choose “help” and read all of it. By all means post back what’s not clear… – Robbie Goodwin Jul 27 '18 at 21:21

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