I am looking for the word that describes a situation similar to this:

A person is not angry and is minding his own business, but then someone comes up and starts annoying the person by repeatedly asking him if he is angry. Due to the constant annoying behaviour, the person who was not angry became angry.

  • @Rudra, Is this person doing it on purpose or are they just over-conscientious?
    – Jim
    Jan 28, 2019 at 5:29
  • Yes, on purpose. Jan 28, 2019 at 13:33
  • 1
    Hi Rudra, welcome to EL&U. 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 this using the edit link. For further guidance, see How to Ask, and make sure you also take the EL&U Tour :-) Jan 28, 2019 at 13:36
  • 2
    This sounds like a Monty Python sketch... Oct 25, 2019 at 13:40
  • 1
    @Cascabel No it doesn't. Mar 18, 2021 at 15:29

5 Answers 5



bait verb [ T ] (MAKE ANGRY) ​

to intentionally make a person angry by saying or doing things to annoy them:

  • 2
    What the OP is asking about may be a form of a baiting, in this sense, in so far as calling somebody angry may, in fact, annoy him, but it is only one of its forms. There is an aspect of a self-fulfilling prophecy in the phenomenon that the OP is asking about, and baiting does not capture that.
    – jsw29
    Jan 28, 2019 at 5:06

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In a self-fulfilling prophecy an individual’s expectations about another person or entity eventually result in the other person or entity acting in ways that confirm the expectations.

The term is sometimes over-generalized to many other situations, but the definition clearly indicates the situation presented here.



In a broader sense, (inclusive of the specific scenario) the words instigate and provoke can be used to accurately describe this behavior. Both can be used to describe the act of eliciting a negative response.

"I was in a good mood until Bob provoked me to anger."

"Mary is a troublemaker -- she likes to instigate arguments, by spreading gossip."


Exasperate seems to fit the bill quite nicely.

To exasperate someone is to annoy him or her to the point of impatience, frustration and irritation, like when you exasperate a busy waiter by asking questions like "what are all the ingredients in the salad dressing?" and making him repeat the specials five times.



I think, "to anger" suits.

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anger:


transitive verb

: to make (someone) angry

// He was angered  by the decision

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.