I've experienced this way too many times, and the best example I can give is a person who treats you like you have no idea how to do X and who keeps teaching you how to do it. I feel handicapped.

Take for example how to play a card game. You know how to play the game because you've played it 5 times. However, there is a person always insists on explaining the game to you - like you are always new to the game - when you don't actually need any help and you just want to think for yourself.

Another example situation is doing a repetitive task which you already have experience with, and yet the person continually tries to 'teach' you when you don't need help/already know how to do it. It almost makes you mad because you really don't need help.

As an example which recently happened to me:

"Hey, do you remember how to start the wood chipper?"

"Yes I do"

"Okay, well, let me show you one more time"

Again, is there a term for someone who does this?

  • 1
    I think the ultimate term will depend on the reason that they are doing this. Is it that they don't trust you, or are they a control freak, or just strange, overly-protective of their things, lonely, looking for attention, or any number of things.
    – Sam
    Nov 17, 2012 at 5:11
  • I see you're a bit of a condissenter. ;-)
    – Erik Kowal
    Apr 18, 2014 at 19:08
  • My first thought is pedantic, but that doesn't quite fit, nor does "pedagogic". "Didactic" is maybe a little better. But unfortunately most of the words one considers in this area have multiple meanings, and there's no good way to assure that the desired meaning will be conveyed.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 8, 2015 at 23:22
  • I think the term is experienced. When you've won at cards half a dozen times it will probably stop. And wood chippers are damn dangerous things and you should be closely supervised for a couple months until it has thrown a few of everything back at you and consumed a few of your gloves.
    – Phil Sweet
    May 8, 2023 at 3:02
  • 1
    By the way, my mom is 97 and has been telling me how to brew tea - every time I make tea - for sixty years. So I'm kind of used to it.
    – Phil Sweet
    May 8, 2023 at 3:13

12 Answers 12


Patronizing is a simple answer but it fits for me. As defined by Dictionary.com:

1. displaying or indicative of an offensively condescending manner


The closest word I can think of is pedagogue or pedant who is a teacher too interested in small details and formal rules.

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    Interfering old busybody. Nov 16, 2012 at 18:15
  • 2
    Will, how about "impertinent"?
    – user19148
    Nov 16, 2012 at 18:25

Some idiomatic names would be:

"Mother Hen" would be the person who is fussing over you (her chicks)

"Know-it-all" in a limited sense because they don't believe someone could be competent enough to know something as well as them


"Taskmaster" - Someone who needs things done their way

"Control freak" - that's my personal favorite

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    +1 for the last choice, but how do you think about "paranoiac" or "paranoid person"?
    – user19148
    Nov 16, 2012 at 19:45
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    @Carlo_R. definitely paranoid about trusting someone to perform a task on their own! I agree! Nov 16, 2012 at 19:49
  • 1
    @Carlo_R.: paranoid evokes quite another set of connotations, not at all doing something for someone, but thinking evil of them.
    – Mitch
    Nov 16, 2012 at 20:10
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    Patronizing micromanager springs to mind, too. (Sure, those words can be applied to broader contexts than what the O.P. asks about, but I could see calling the Mother Hen in the O.P.'s scenario patronizing, or a micromanager).
    – J.R.
    Nov 16, 2012 at 22:55
  • @J.R., absolutely! Micromanager ran through my head briefly, but then escaped. Thanks for the reminder! Nov 16, 2012 at 22:58

When it is a man doing this to a woman, there is a particular neologism that comes to mind: mansplaining. It refers to the phenomenon of a man explaining something to a woman when she already understands the thing and does not need an explanation.


I think the word "didactic" comes close to what you are looking for.


While the previous answers of pedant and didactic are definitely right, those also have other meanings so that it is not clear what you mean. Didactic, for example, can just mean instructional.

I think the word that most closely matches this idea is simply preachy.

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    the problem with "preachy", to me, is that it has a feel of religious context. Maybe I've been preached to too much! :-) Nov 16, 2012 at 19:14
  • @KristinaLopez - I agree too. It has a religious feel to it.
    – Mohit
    Nov 17, 2012 at 3:51

I consider this micromanaging, and someone who does it a micromanager. Micromanage is defined as:

To direct or control in a detailed, often meddlesome manner.

It is not just a business term anymore. I use and have heard others use this outside an office setting.


I live with a husband like this. His sister is the same. They have to be giving instructions—can't even say goodbye without them saying ‘be careful of your speed’, or ‘put your seat belt on’. They watch what you are doing, and although they think they are being helpful, it can be construed as being a busybody—its difficult to live with.

I would rather make mistakes and learn from them than have someone continually correcting me.

busybody (OD)
A meddling or prying person


I am thinking to the verb overteach for the excess of explanation and, ironically, to chaperone for mothering someone.

a "chaperon(e)" is someone, such as a teacher or parent, who goes with children on a trip or to a school dance to make sure that the children behave properly.


Specifically in the context of games (even more specifically, card games), kibitzing (Merriam-Webster) is a commonly-used term: "one who looks on and often offers unwanted advice or comment". However, I'm not sure that it can be applied more generally.


Describe their behavior as tirelessly “on a soap box”.

Politicians and preachers in hand-held loudspeaker days and before would stand on an empty soap merchant’s box to politicize and preach.

“Mother Hen” suggestion from prior answer is a winner. Well said.

  • 1
    Hi Adrienne, you can show appreciation for other answers by upvoting them, but commenting on them in your own answer is (usually) distracting and irrelevant. (It is also often good to refer to an authoritative source, like a dictionary definition of "(on a) soap box" here.)
    – Joachim
    Oct 28, 2023 at 12:11

Many reasons… for things not life threatening- they are insecure, think too highly of themselves, they’re unskilled at communication and self centered, or they are concerned for you and also for liability for themselves( if it involves something dangerous like a wood chipper).

I’ve has this happen SOO FREQUENTLY and finally had the opportunity to ask somebody who has real wisdom as to what to do when this happens, and he gave me a multi-layered good answer. First he said that I first must question why it bothers me and also look at my first response( internal). Untili understood what was going in and what to do would get irritated internally. But once he answered me and I understood, i just don’t catch it anymore and i let it fall. He told me, if someone throws you a beautiful mango, you have the choice to either catch it or let it fall. Then I responded, what if it an ugly, rotten mango? He said, it is the same concept. It’s my choice whether I catch something or let it fall to the ground! That was SUCH A GOOD word for me. I truly hope it helps somebody else. Flo

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  • 1
    Is the word "mango"?
    – livresque
    Oct 28, 2023 at 3:13

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