What's the word to describe someone who acts arrogantly and always disagrees with others unreasonably in order to upset people around him/her?

[I'm not looking for adjectives like unpleasant, annoying, unfriendly, rude, I'm looking for a more specific term like opinionated, didactic, loquacious, gregarious ]

I think I'd come across it before but I've forgotten what it is..

  • 5
    I doubt that it's what you are looking for, but there's schadenfreude. There are also words like supercilious, contemptuous, combative, and so on. Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:11
  • 87
    On the Internet, that's an essential part of the job description of a troll.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:14
  • 22
    There are cantankerous curmudgeons, antagonizing arses, disagreeable dolts who deliver diatribes. Not to mention bloviating blowhards, mean malcontents, foul faultfinders, ghastly grouches, killjoys, misanthropes, cranks and general complainers. Have you tried looking at a thesaurus? :)
    – Zairja
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:19
  • 3
    I could list other synonyms, perhaps churlish or loutish. The person could also be acerbic, belligerent or acrimonious, pugnacious or rancorous. Again, I almost feel like this is general reference since at most we can offer lists of words from a thesaurus until you remember the "right" one on the tip of your tongue. :)
    – Zairja
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:38
  • 4
    You may also want to look at the answers provided for this ELU question.
    – Zairja
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 13:42

19 Answers 19


A curmudgeon is someone who is bad-tempered and disagreeable - so curmudgeonly?

A contrarian is someone who takes an opposing view, especially for the sake of being difficult, contentious or in opposition to the generally held view. This could also be used as an adjective.

A troll is, in a certain context, someone who says something deliberately for the purpose of insulting or upsetting someone. (Thanks RegDwight AAA, and no offense intended to Norwegians).

My British friends and relatives might also say that such a person was "playing silly buggers" (or beggars).

  • 28
    +1 For troll. IMHO this is the best answer to emphasise that the disagreement is only to produce a reaction, not out of genuine belief. Its only problem is that its a pretty modern word, so older readers may not be familiar with it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 14:35
  • 2
    The question is tagged with adjectives, but you have given nouns.
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 15:21
  • 12
    More ususally 'silly buggers', isn't it? Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 15:49
  • 2
    @tchrist Agreed, the question is tagged with adjectives, and the details specify adjectives, but the question title implies nouns. As you can see, while my answer emphasizes noun forms it also addresses the adjectival forms.
    – Joel Brown
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 17:53
  • 1
    @Jodrell Troll does. If your point is that the others proffered are inferior, I'd agree.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 15:14

I'd describe someone as antagonistic if they are the type of person that thrives on disagreement and conflict for its own sake. These are the type of people who will start arguments for the sole purpose of creating a tense, adversarial atmosphere.

  • 4
    This one seems to fit best. It implies disagreement for the purpose of annoying others. +1
    – Jon Hulka
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 22:41
  • 3
    I'm not sure how this isn't the top answer--it's by far the best. While troll fits the bill exactly, you can't use it in formal language.
    – Ryan Amos
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 2:25
  • @JonHulka only if antagonising is synonomous with annoying but, I take your point. More relavently to the question, it is shares meaning with both upsetting and disagreeing so is a good match.
    – Jodrell
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 11:34

I'll add 'argumentative' and 'confrontational', since those two haven't been mentioned yet. 'Argumentative' is pretty self-explanatory, being someone who delights in arguing, and similarly 'confrontational' is one who seeks out conflict (presumably because they enjoy it/ need it/ that's how they roll).

  • The first word I thought of is "argumentative", although I'm liking a lot of these other answers.
    – jhocking
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 15:28

I don’t suppose the specific adjective you’re looking for happens to be querulous, is it?

Per the OED, it means:

Complaining, given to complaining, full of complaints, peevish.

Another possibility might be belligerent, which was originally from the Latin for war-making, but now more often means simply combative in a more general sense. There’s also bellicose, which may now carry additional connotations of loudness.

You can find synonyms to these at the links given above. Surely one of those must be your sought-after word. The merged set of suggestions provided by those two links is:

aggressive, antagonistic, ardent, argumentative, at loggerheads, battling, bearish, bellicose, bemoaning, cantankerous, captious, carping, censorious, combative, complaining, contentious, critical, cross, crying, deploring, discontented, dissatisfied, edgy, fault-finding, fierce, fighting, flip, fretful, grouchy, grousing, grumbling, grumbly, hard to please, have a bone to pick, have chip on shoulder, have it in for, hostile, hot, hot-tempered, huffy, irascible, irritable, lamenting, mean, militant, nasty, on the outs, ornery, out of sorts, peevish, petulant, plaintive, pugnacious, quarrelsome, scrappy, scrappy, snappy, sour, testy, thin-skinned touchy, truculent, uptight, wailing, warlike, waspish, waspy, whimpering, whining, whiny.

  • 7
    +1. Bellicose and Belligerent were my first two thoughts.
    – Marcus_33
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 18:21
  • The noun, querulant, was my first thought. +1
    – Vegard
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 19:53

I'd say contentious.

from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contentious

1 : likely to cause disagreement or argument

  • a contentious issue

2 : exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes

  • a man of a most contentious nature
  • I was thinking that, but the sources I’d found only allowed for a contentious issue. +1 for finding a better source. Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 16:59
  • I didn't look too far - duckduckgo.com search - it is the first result.
    – Jon Hulka
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 22:43

The word 'contrary' may be used to mean exactly what you describe, as in

'Oh, Arch, will you stop being so contrary all the time!'

I, for one, have heard that far too many times as a child.

There is also a poem 'Contrary Larry':

Larry, you are so contrary!
You make me upset.
If I say, "I am starving now",
you're not hungry yet.
If I would like some quiet time.
You go get your drum.
If all I have is candy bars,
all you want is gum.

Larry, you are so contrary!
You drive me insane.
If I say, "I love sunny days",
you say you love the rain.

  • This was my first thought, too. But "contrary" is generally used to refer to an annoying child. I wouldn't call a contrary child "arrogant", the word used in the question. So it may or may not be what the OP is looking for.
    – Jay
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 14:35

If I may borrow an answer from a similar question here on ELU:

Quarrelsome might be appropriate. It describes someone "apt or disposed to quarrel in an often petty manner."

Another possibility is adversarial for someone who "contends with, opposes, or resists." For me, the word has the connotations of a contest or battle, perhaps even a sense of one-upmanship.


I would go with incendiary, inflammatory or perhaps even provocative.


Assuming that your intended meaning includes that

  1. the person's behavior is motivated by malice,
  2. the person is the aggressor/instigator and is not just passively grouchy, and
  3. their behavior is specifically rational disagreement (as opposed to, e.g., punching or leering at people),

the best words that I can find are invective, vitriolic, or taunting. The problem is that I am not sure how familiar it would sound to use these to describe a person. They are more often applied to language or comments. I think that the meaning of "an invective person" would be clear in context but not necessarily immediately or smoothly so.

You might have to go with a multiword phrase, such as "maliciously argumentative" or "always spouting baseless invective". I think that troll is also a good choice but problematic in that I think it is still more strongly associated with behavior on the internet rather than in meatspace and perhaps would suggest this more specific interpretation.

  • Nice answer (+1) - I'd +1 again for meatspace if I could.
    – Joel Brown
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 23:53
  • Invective is typically used as a noun, referring to critical or obscene language. Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 18:39

I like using belligerent for this purpose:

bel·lig·er·ent/bəˈlijərənt/ Adjective:
Hostile and aggressive. Noun:
A nation or person engaged in war or conflict, as recognized by international law. Synonyms:
warring - militant - bellicose


I don't believe this question would be complete without mention of the term shit-stirrer.

  • You don't even have to stir. Just put a turd in the punch bowl or a Snickers bar in the pool. Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 14:47

When confronted with someone who was contrarian just to be annoying, or even willfully ignoring the arguments presented by changing definitions on the fly or overemphasizing trivialities, I've often used the term gadfly. This comes from a story Plato wrote about Socrates. In the more charitable scenario, the gadfly is someone who irritates the established order by posing inconvenient or novel questions, but it seemed to be overloaded in practice to include people who were merely irritating because they were arguing from willful ignorance.


I'd call someone like that an Advocatus Diaboli or Devil's Advocate.

From Wikipedia:

In common parlance, a devil's advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, for the sake of argument.

  • Downvoters, I'd love to improve the answer so it meets your standards of usefulness. Please leave a comment.
    – Urs Reupke
    Commented Sep 1, 2012 at 6:13
  • 3
    I think the downvotes are due to the fact that the question asks for a word describing one who disagrees for the sole purpose of upsetting other parties. Someone playing Devil's Advocate doesn't necessarily have only that goal in mind.
    – user22138
    Commented Jul 8, 2013 at 18:00

May I humbly suggest the colloquial: Jackass


Provocative? On the other hand, it is possible that this word carries this connotation more in the British usage.


Why not disagreeable? This word implies that the one who is disagreeable is so because they have reason(s) to disagree other than a fundamental difference of opinion or philosophy - it implies they are disagreeable for the sake of disagreeing - there is a negative connotation, with undertones of malcontent.


Taking a stab at answering... The first word that came to my mind when reading your question was: bigot, bigoted. All definitions were yanked from the Oxford Dictionaries website (the links will lead you to their appropriate definition on the Oxford Dictionaries webiste.).
*Note: No online dictionary is superior to another and no dictionary can claim the rights to words. Other dictionaries (like Merriam-Webster OnLine, Collins Online Dictionary, Dictionary.com, Cambridge Dictionaries Online, etc.) are just as good and there are plenty of others on the internet that would say pretty much the same definitions. I wouldn't have been able to make this list, by the way, without the help of Google, which got me to this Wikipedia article.

bigoted definition:

adjective: having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others

likewise, bigot definition:

noun: a person who is bigoted

bigotry definition:

noun: bigoted attitudes; intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself


If you’re looking for an adjective, the first to pop into mind for me is obstinate, which Dictionary.com says is:

  1. firmly or stubbornly adhering to one's purpose, opinion, etc.; not yielding to argument, persuasion, or entreaty.
  2. characterized by inflexible persistence or an unyielding attitude; inflexibly persisted in or carried out: obstinate advocacy of high tariffs.
  3. not easily controlled or overcome: the obstinate growth of weeds.
  4. not yielding readily to treatment, as a disease.
  • I especially like how the "disease" meaning easily makes this even worse if used as an insult ;)
    – Izkata
    Commented Aug 22, 2012 at 18:08

For a noun form of provocative, the English language has incorporated the French word:


Noun, French

a person who provokes trouble, causes dissension, or the like; agitator.

See also agent provocateur.