In a confrontation between two parties, where one is being aggressive towards another (either by attacking them or by simply posturing and frightening the other), one side could be referred to as the "aggressor", but what could the other be called? I'm looking for a one-word description if possible.

"Victim" sounds too strong a word for simply being intimidated and backing away from the confrontation, and the only other term I can come up with, "target" seems too vague.

Example: The aggressor [attacked / intimidated] the ______. Then the _____ ran away.

  • 2
    It's often the target of his aggression. But victim is significantly more common. Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 17:44
  • A party to a crime or wrongful deed is someone who joins in the deed. A victim of aggression is not a party to it. Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 19:08
  • As suggested by the other comments, victim is a reasonable word (and the most likely). Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 19:12

2 Answers 2



According to Oxford Living Dictionary:



A person, nation, etc. towards whom or which aggression is directed; the object of an attack.

Opposed to aggressor.

There's an example from Reverso.context.net:

''Thus, I think things are very clear here as to who is the aggressor and who is the aggressee, who has the truth and who does not''.

  • Not what I would call a generic term. It seems to barely exist at all, and mostly in behavioral sciences texts. According to Eliphind.com, it appears about 8 times in American newspapers since 1890, and one of the writers in 1935 thought he had just coined it. And I have never heard of any of the newspapers in which it appears.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 2:51

Such an array of terms that could be used here. For starters, mark would fit the bill:


mark - an object of attack, ridicule, or abuse specifically : a victim or prospective victim of a swindle

The word prey would also work:

Merriam Webster

prey - one that is helpless or unable to resist attack : VICTIM

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