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I'm seeking a word or phrase which means being excellent at something you hate doing.

For example: I'm excellent at placing labor epidurals in pregnant women, it might even be my best skill. But, it is also one of my least favorite tasks to perform at work.

Example sentence:

Dave's skill at placing epidurals is only exceeded by his hatred of placing them. It's a great example of ............

While irony would fit here, I'm seeking a word or phrase that refers to this specific situation. Ideally, it would convey the whole concept of being good at it while hating it.

3
  • I've never heard of a word for it. It may not be common enough for people to have coined a term more specific than irony.
    – Barmar
    Jan 27 '20 at 19:10
  • I like irony, then there's dissonance. Jan 25 at 20:07
  • The headsman's lament ...Mary Queen of Scots and her executioner.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 25 at 20:21
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"embittering expertise", is a phrase that conveys the concept of being excellent at something you hate. Here's your example completed with the phrase:

Dave's skill at placing epidurals is only exceeded by his hatred of placing them. It's a great example of embittering expertise.

"embitter" is defined by Lexico.com as

Make (someone) feel bitter or resentful.

The very thing Dave excels at (his expertise) is what embitters him, so it's fitting to describe his situation as one of embittering expertise.

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  • Could you explain why you thing this is phrase is correct and provide reliable resources which prove you right?
    – fev
    Jan 25 at 19:56
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There's anti-hero:

A main character in a dramatic or narrative work who is characterized by a lack of traditional heroic qualities, such as idealism or courage.

I could easily see an anti-hero being excellent at fighting villains, saving the world, and so on, while at the same time hating it.

Some examples from popular culture:

  • Taylor Durden from “Fight Club”
  • Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean”
  • Don Draper from “Mad Men”
  • Gregory House from “House”
  • Walter White from “Breaking Bad”
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That's a great question and I can't think of one, but I can coin one: antagonist savant.

Antagonist defined as "A person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something" (https://www.lexico.com/definition/antagonist) plus the savant in idiot savant https://www.lexico.com/definition/idiot_savant

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  • Somehow this makes me think of supervillains. To me, "antagonist" suggests disliking a person rather than an activity.
    – user888379
    Jan 28 '20 at 20:20
  • 1
    Suggesting a neologism not already in use is borderline off-topic. See meta.
    – Davo
    Jun 26 '20 at 18:23

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