Is there a word for a person that does things because people said they would be bad at it? Ex: The man was told he would be the worst husband in the world so he set out to be the best. I was told spite but there is no ill intention.

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    Hi Dylan, welcome to English Language & Usage. You might not be aware that there are strict rules for single-word-requests: "To ensure your question is not closed as off-topic, please be specific about the intended use of the word. You must include a sample sentence demonstrating how the word would be used." You can add these details by clicking on the edit link. – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Sep 24 '18 at 0:09
  • @Kris Use comments to ask for more information or suggest improvements. Avoid answering questions in comments. – MetaEd Sep 25 '18 at 20:15
  • @MetaEd There was never a thing that I considered an answer here. Your mileage may vary. What I posted was a comment to me, with good reason. All said, you will probably not restore the comment. (I'm not saying "so be it" though.) – Kris Sep 27 '18 at 8:49


As in "Mary, Mary, quite contrary". This might be relevant.

From Collins:

  1. opposed in nature, position, etc: contrary ideas.
  2. perverse; obstinate
  3. (Nautical Terms) (esp of wind) adverse; unfavourable
  4. (Botany) (of plant parts) situated at right angles to each other
  5. (Logic) logic (of a pair of propositions) related so that they cannot both be true at once, although they may both be false together.

If someone was doing their best to prove me wrong, I’d say they were being contrary.

I’d also use perverse or obstinate as adjectives, too.

Unfortunately I can’t see a way round the negative connotations. It seems that someone doing exactly the opposite of what is predicted/expected is inherently negative, even if there are no ill intentions. Another example would be to "defy expectations". "Defiance" also has less positive connotations.

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    or n. contrarian – AmI Sep 23 '18 at 21:21

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