All too often online and more and more in real life I see situations where someone clearly makes their views perfectly clear, only for someone else to come around and claim they have the opposite intent and meaning.

For example I saw a thread where someone made their views on sexism very clear, they were totally against it and in favour of equality between the sexes. They even gave a couple of examples of sexist behaviours they hated and had witnessed, including some language and sexist terms they had heard as examples and how they hated them.

Enter a woman who claimed the OP was sexist for simply using the terms and disusing the issue of sexism at all and that by discussing the issue was keeping sexism alive.

It went on like that for quite a while. But everyone else could see she was twisting and turning all the facts of what had been said to be the total opposite, and I'm just wondering what the term might be foe this kind of behaviour.


4 Answers 4


If it is extended to the point where it is an attempt to convince the subject , whose words are twisted, of his/her own insanity, it sounds like gaslighting, after the 1944 film of that name.

But I am not sure that is quite what you mean, is it?

At the other extreme it seems a bit like everyday politics - heard in Parliament any day of the week.

But what I sense you are looking for is something in between. Perhaps - deliberate misinterpretation.


The word Machivellian comes to mind. It derives from Machevelli's book, The Prince, which is advice to a monarch on how to preserve and hold onto power. However, in modern day usage the term machvellian describes what you are asking for.


It depends on how you want to use it. You could use the word, "Sophism" if your talking about a type of person that twists words often. You could also say, "deliberately changed" if your talking about a one time action.


Given the scenario, perhaps

Someone with their own (sexist) ax to grind.

ax to grind

An ulterior often selfish underlying purpose m-w

have an ax to grind
in American English

To have an object of one's own to gain or promote Collins

have an axe to grind

Have a private reason for doing or being involved in something.

He has no political axe to grind Lexico (U.S. English)

Munk's review might be considered anti-criticism because she does not let the audience know that she has an ax to grind. S. A. Hay; Ed Bullins: A Literary Biography

So there you have it. I am not a historian, and I have no religious axe to grind. Sydney Thorne; Mary Ward: First Sister for Feminism

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