Suppose a person is after something or somebody. For example, Tom wants to be with Jane, but somebody else wins her heart, and Tom says, “She was ugly/fat/... anyway.” Is there a word or idiom to describe Tom's reaction?


There is an idiom, "sour grapes", meaning that you saying negative things about something because you couldn't get it. It's from the fox and the sour grapes story, by Aesop.

Merriam-Webster definition: "disparagement of something that has proven unattainable"

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  • But how would you use "sour grapes" regarding Tom? Tom is in sour grapes? Tom experiences sour grapes? Tom calls Jane sour grapes? Tom speaks about Jane like sour grapes? – Christian Geiselmann Oct 7 '18 at 9:43
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    @ChristianGeiselmann "She was fat anyway." "That's just sour grapes." Or, outside of dialogue, Tom's reaction is just one of sour grapes. – Jason Bassford Oct 7 '18 at 9:46

For a single word, I'd call that spiteful:

showing or caused by malice.
"the teachers made spiteful little jokes about me"
synonyms: malicious, mean, nasty, cruel, unkind, unfriendly, snide, hurtful, wounding, barbed, cutting, hateful, ill-natured, bitter, venomous, poisonous, acid, hostile, rancorous, malevolent, evil-intentioned, baleful, vindictive, vengeful, vitriolic, vicious, splenetic, malign, malignant, bilious; defamatory; informal bitchy, catty; literary malefic, maleficent

If you want to focus on motive rather than effect, then "jealous" as you said, or "wounded", or "lovelorn" and so on.

Also "petty".

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