I'm writing a story for which I'm trying to find a descriptive, yet attractive title. The protagonists are total opposites and they're always bickering and throwing sarcastic comments at each other, the story is basically about how they constantly get under each other's skin, but at the same time they feel attraction and excitement toward one another, they just won't admit it. I looked up names for similar feelings and I came across these: Skinny love / despire (despise+desire) / ambivalent / bittersweet

I just want a word (or more than one) that explains how things are between them: like how a puzzle is so exciting to solve but at some points, when the pieces won't fit, it gets too frustrating. I feel like the suggestions I mentioned above are so blunt and plain, I don't know it's just my opinion. I was thinking of oxymorons, maybe something along "Sweetly/enticingly Provoking", but I am not sure, maybe there's a more adequate word or oxymoron you can come up with.

Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    What does “much to his chagrin” mean? ... To Our Chagrin seems available as a book title.
    – Mazura
    Sep 17, 2022 at 21:42
  • You have described the concept of The Odd Couple, or the Taming of the Shrew, or many a romantic film plot line. Backbiting. Sep 18, 2022 at 1:53
  • Chalk and Cheese, Water and Wine, Black and White, Love and Hate... you're asking the community to suggest a title for a book/story that is yours. This type of request is off-topic
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 18, 2022 at 12:07
  • 1
    I’m voting to close this question because it is asking the community to suggest a catchy title for a book/story.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 18, 2022 at 12:09
  • @Mari-LouA I'm asking for a word that means both frustrating and enticing, not for a book title. Yes, I mentioned the reason why I'm looking for such a word so that people would get a better idea of what I'm searching for, so that they would provide me with fitting words. I think those details I added just serve to make my request clear. However, people left really useful suggestions for the word I'm searching for –grateful for their answers– so I'll see if I can close the question. I'm new to this community, not really sure if I can do that.
    – user463988
    Sep 18, 2022 at 14:15

3 Answers 3


The following words mean both frustrating and enticing to different degrees. First choice words may be

  • Knotty

  • Koan (in Zen Buddhism) a problem or riddle that admits no logical solution.

  • Challenging

  • Riddle

  • Beguiling

  • Bewitching

  • Baffling

  • Perplexing

  • Gordian, Gordian knot

  • Convoluted

  • Enigma, Enigmatic

  • Intricate

Examples of some other words that can also be used are

  • Impossible

  • Addictive

  • Sirenic, Siren/s

  • Riveting

  • Outrageous

  • Maddening

  • Vexed, Vexatious

  • Intrigue, Intriguing

  • Cryptic

  • Labyrinthine

  • Byzantine

  • Greek (example sentence, "Greek to me")

  • Risque (may not be appropriate as it has a strong sexual connotation)

  • Orphic (mystic, oracular, fascinating, entrancing).

  • Recondite (Difficult to grasp or understand; abstruse, profound. Little known; esoteric, secret).

  • Arcane

  • Esoteric

Love-hate had already been mentioned by @Dan

  • Why the negative vote? Take for example the words [baffling][en.wiktionary.org/wiki/baffling] (Puzzling, perplexing, bewildering. frustrating) or [enigma][en.wiktionary.org/wiki/enigma] (Something or someone puzzling, mysterious or inexplicable. A riddle, or a difficult problem). I think the downvote (answer not useful) is unwarranted.
    – banuyayi
    Sep 18, 2022 at 4:15
  • 1
    Not my downvote but I can guess why it was downvoted. An answer containing a long list of suggestions more or less acceptable but without any explanation, isn't ideal. For example, the answer was accepted by the OP but which suggestion hit the bull's eye? And if a user disagrees with three suggestions but especially likes one, how should they express their preference?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 18, 2022 at 15:01
  • There are 29 "answers" here.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 18, 2022 at 15:03
  • Thank you for pointing that out to me. I will try to keep my answers short in future. Most of these words are in common usage. therefore for brevity I did not provide the definitions, explanations. I tried to give explanations/definitions and linked words which are used less commonly.
    – banuyayi
    Sep 18, 2022 at 15:08
  • 2
    It's not about length, a user can post a very long detailed answer without problem. It's about a list containing only single-word answers. Three or four solutions is acceptable, as long as it accompanied by some sort of explanation.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 18, 2022 at 15:12

It sounds like a love-hate relationship:

strong feelings of both love and hatred for someone (Merriam-Webster)

But I'm not sure if this would work as a title.


In the context of a title, I'm not sure if the following will help (haha), but I hope it provides some ideas:

First off, the word that immediately came to mind was 'ambivalent', which you provided. 'Temperamental' is related to this, in the emotional sense.

The term I've noticed people use to describe a 'morbid curiousity', is 'fascinating'. For example, if you were to ask a friend "why do you like serial killers so much?", they may respond with: "I don't like them! But I do find them fascinating". I hear this a lot in debates, myself. Typically in the context of someone hearing an opinion they strongly disagree with (and may be offended by), they may interrupt with: "I find that/you fascinating". I have also (less commonly) heard morbid fascination, and morbidly fascinating before.

The phrase 'opposites attract' was also one of the first things that came to mind, which is somewhat similar to the idea of a "love-hate relationship", as previously mentioned. The latter is more fitting, in my opinion.

Finally, words like 'perplex' and 'allure' may fit. E.g. "She was perplexed by him".

Again, I hope this helps!... Now I'm interested in what a singlar fitting word may be too. -- I feel 'fascinating' is probably the one (at least for me, at the time of writing this), but that requires one to have heard its use in such a context previously (i.e. the implication might not be obvious to all people). I guess what I'm saying is: people typically think fascinating implies a positive interest, but it's infact a neutral word.


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