I've looked for this verb on many occasions, and also asked this question several times but the only answer I ever got was that no such verb existed.

It does exist in my native language, and we also have lots of proverbs or fables that involve it, which is why I am interested.

For example, imagine you get someone a present, and after a couple of days you start talking to them in a way that sounds like you are demanding gratitude. In their eyes, you are probably gloating and bragging. Like, "see what a good friend you have!" or something like that.

Another example is a humorous fable in which a king accidentally falls into a well and calls for help. A passerby helps him get out, and the king decides to give him a generous amount of money. Despite that, the person who saved the king's life rubs it in the king's face and says "I did good, right? Had I not done that, you'd still be in the well suffering from hunger or cold", "See what good deed I did!" And before they go to the kingdom, the king is tired of that, so he purposefully gets back into the well, saying "Better be in a well again rather than listen to one talking at me as if I owed him a big one and bothering me with those words all the time for a lifetime."

I hope these examples make sense.

I also used my dictionary to look up the literal translation of the verb, and it suggested reproach — which really doesn't seem to fit at all here. Reproach is more like reprimanding, telling off or criticizing, as in a parent reproaching their kid, or a teacher reprimanding their student.

The dictionary also showed me the verb flatter which seems to fit even less.

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    But leave the fable in, please? It illustrates well what you're asking for.
    – Conrado
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 15:35
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    I realize you're trying not to bias us, but it would still really help to know the word in the original language, and a sentence in the original language that uses it (also a sentence in English with a blank where you want the translated word to go.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 15:54
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    Reproach may not be as far off as you think. Reproach isn't just disapproval, but disapproval combined with disappointment. "After how I helped you, don't I deserve better treatment?"
    – barbecue
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 15:25
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    so what's the original georgian verb?
    – jiggunjer
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 17:02
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    @Englishvibes Nevermind what you think people here will or won't understand - tell us the word you're trying to translate! Seriously - what is gained by keeping this a secret? We need to know what you're looking for and you stubbornly won't tell us. Why? You'd be amazed how much thousands of people on the internet know.
    – J...
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 17:25

13 Answers 13


Honestly, I can't think of a widely-used single term to describe what you're talking about.

In a wider conversation on the topic, you might say that your saviour has started acting entitled since the event, that they've come to expect something as a result of their good deed, that they feel like you're in their debt. They've become somewhat demanding.

I would always use it in a sentence that clarifies what you're saying, but these terms can shorten your description.

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    I feel as if TV, such as Magnum, PI, helps prove the negative. Frequently a character will ask for repeated favors with "fine, don't help me. All I did was carry you 5 miles through the jungle while you were bleeding". If there was a single word for that constant reminding, we'd have heard TC or Rick say it, but the most they say is "OK, but after this we'll be even". Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 18:29
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    @OwenReynolds Valid! Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 19:08
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    As an aside, I never realised it before today, but: I really wish we did have a term for this. I might go find out what it might be known as in other languages and just sort of steal it; see how far I can get spreading it around the Anglophone world after that. 😂 Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 19:09
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    This being English, the term would be something like "Magnuming". But I think we have so many similar terms: going to that well, playing the rescue card, getting a lot of milage. TV tropes calls it "you owe me" -- still no single word. Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 23:33
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    @OwenReynolds Perhaps we should just make one up then. As long as it's perfectly cromulent there's a chance it'll spread. Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 9:33

To pat yourself on the back or to toot your own horn are both phrases that suggest self-congratulatory actions, usually taken because person does not feel that they are getting the praise they deserve from an external source. The latter phrase in particular indicates a rather loud and public profession of your own greatness. Although these phrases do indicate a lack of external praise, they are not limited to cases where something has been done specifically for another person.

Another phrase to describe what the gift giver is doing might be guilt tripping, which is the intentional act of making someone feel bad in order to induce them to do something. Here, the gift giver constantly talks up their own generosity, highlighting how indebted the gift receiver should feel - there's definitely a subtle undertone of "you owe me" when the gift giver is constantly seeking gratitude and reminding the gift receiver of their "selfless" act. The giver can later guilt trip the receiver into doing something by making them feel bad about having received such a gift without reciprocating.


Fish for a compliment and you are sending subtle to strong hints that you deserve praise or a big thank you.

It can be rude or just childish. It can make a king dive for cover.

MW: to try to get people to say nice things [back]

The fish part is a matter of tossing out a number of attempts to get that catch of flattery in return. And just as a fishing hook is hidden in action, fishing for a compliment has a hidden agenda.

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    Yes, "fishing for..." (e.g., "compliments") is a common U.S.-English usage from at least the latter half of 20th century... Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 23:12

I would say to lord or lording it over someone is closer than the accepted answer, although it is still not exactly the same. e.g.

Jim brought me that great weed two weekends ago and now he lords it over me every time I see him.

When I say that this is not the same as the OP requested, it is in that this would generally be more used in the context of winning some contest in the past and lording the victory over someone in subsequent meetings. Imagine they are a lord or king looking down on a peasant or commoner for an understanding of the meaning.

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    Finally in the ballpark, but the opposite! Say Barb keeps reminding Sue of the yearly pie-making contest winner. If that's Barb, she's lording it over Sue. If it's Sue because Barb always helps with the crust, but then Barb wants payback all year, she's doing what the OP asked about. Maybe lording it under? Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 23:28
  • @OwenReynolds I would still say "lording it over" fits this case.
    – user91988
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 14:56
  • I agree it still fits. "I can't believe Barb is still lording it over Sue about that damn crust, 'we get it, you don't think she'd have won without your help!' "
    – Eric Nolan
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 9:19

I would go with gloat

to observe or think about something with triumphant and often malicious satisfaction, gratification, or delight

See how awesome my answer is? Had it not been for me then you would have never known this word. It's not a big word but it is a great one, far greater than the other answers as you can see. Scholars marvel at the greatness of my answer and I think we all can take pride in it.

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    Nice example!!! Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 15:14
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    @DecapitatedSoul I see you appreciate the satire? :-)
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 15:15

Swank is the closest word I could come up with.

Swank (verb): If someone is swanking, they are speaking about things they own or things they have achieved, in order to impress other people. [Collins Dictionary]

In your example, you're swanking about getting your friend a gift.

Grandstand and crow could also work.

Grandstand (verb): Behave in a showy or ostentatious manner in an attempt to attract favourable attention from spectators or the media. [Lexico]

Crow (verb): (of a person) express great pride or triumph, especially in a tone of gloating satisfaction. [Lexico]

Example: You were crowing about getting your friend a present.

Vaunt (rare word but would also work in some contexts).

Vaunt (verb): to describe, praise, or display (one's success, possessions, etc) boastfully. [Collins Dictionary]

Example: Many of the books were written by wine merchants, often criticizing the practices of their colleagues, or vaunting their own specialities.

You could also say that the action is virtue signalling.

Virtue signalling (noun): The action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one's good character or the moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue. [Lexico]

If it's a misstep or a defeat and someone's reminding you, they're holding it over your head.

(Urban dictionary also gives glory hound for such kind of person.)


I believe the correct answer to this is that there is no such verb in English. In day-to-day communication most people would say such a person is or acts entitled.


I would say that the person is being patronizing.

One definition of patronize is "to treat in a way that is apparently kind or helpful but that betrays a feeling of superiority."

There are several synonyms that could apply as well, such as: pompous, supercilious, or condescending.

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    This sounds accurate from the definition, but as far as I know wouldn't be the common understanding of it. Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 7:47

I think flaunt would fit the bill quite nicely.


To Harp

harp on/upon, to dwell on persistently or tediously in speaking or writing:

A nagging wife may "harp on" about fixing the roof.
The Boss may harp about getting the reports done.

The guy who helped you when you were in trouble may harp on about how great he was for doing it.


Maybe 'self-aggrandising' would be close, though it doesn't have the specific personal connection.

'Pestering' has the personal sense connection and the nuisance value, but not the 'I've saved you' sense.

Maybe 'Lording it over X' is also close, but also lacks the 'I saved you' sense.


Considering the kind of people in question, the verb guilt seems fitting. In both the cases, the giver/doer does an act that is supposed to be selfless. But in their grossly immature heads, they have obliged the other person, and hence are inclined to guilt them as there is no commensurate quid pro quo. Gifting the petty friend something of like value and sending men to stealthily cause the king’s saviour to tip over as he draws water from the well and then having the king himself save him are the only ways to shut their respective mouths.


I don't think this is going to be a popular answer, but I'm going to suggest blackmail or extort.

I think although it is a very gentle form of blackmail, it definitely is because the person has something to hold over the beneficiary, that they are able to get their way.