What do you call someone who is an aggressive guy who is always making some kind of trouble which usually leads to a fight? Such a guy tends to turn a small issue into a fight. I found two terms and I was wondering if someone could let me know which one works here in a natural way:

  • He is a trouble.

  • He is a hell-on-wheels.

For me they both work properly, but I didn't find any reference showing that "trouble" works in this sense. Urban dictionary and some other sources somehow refer to the meaning in my question, though not completely.

I would appreciate it if they do not work properly here, someone could let me know what native speakers would call such a person in AmE.

Added: what I need is an AmE informal term.

  • I would call him a hot head.
    – EllieK
    Dec 4, 2020 at 20:23

4 Answers 4


The problem with your two suggestions:

  • He is a trouble.
  • He is a hell-on-wheels.

is that we do not use an indefinite article when using these terms. Instead, we could say:

  • He is trouble.
  • He is hell on wheels.

or maybe:

  • He is nothing but trouble.

If you wanted to use a noun with an indefinite article, we might say:

  • He is a troublemaker.

Incidentally, “hell on wheels” is an idiom, so the term needn’t be hyphenated. Also, I’m not sure it fits exactly what you describe in your question. Yes, it is used to describe a person or situation that is difficult to handle, but it doesn’t necessarily imply an argumentative spirit.

  • 2
    Adding to that, a trouble-stirrer (or depending on how crude one wants to be, a shit-stirrer) are terms often used to describe exactly this type of person - a person go goes around and actively tries to turn everything into an argument or fight.
    – mike
    Jan 6, 2017 at 10:21

Well, there's probably a few choice words people might call a person like this, but that's a separate discussion. :)

With regards to your two suggestions, you do not want the "a" in either of them, they should be:

He is trouble.

He is hell-on-wheels.

Here are some other suggestions for adjectives you could use:





Also, with regards to turning something insignificant/small into a big deal, some people would say:

He makes a mountain out of a mole hill.

Although this may be more idiomatic to UK English rather than AmE - there's a Wikipedia page on it here, or you can Google it for some more background information.

  • 1
    Mountain out of a molehill is common in the US as well. Good suggestion.
    – J.R.
    Jan 6, 2017 at 9:24
  • @J.R. great, thanks for confirming that, I wasn't sure as I couldn't remember ever hearing it when I'm been in the US, good to know.
    – 3N1GM4
    Jan 6, 2017 at 9:26
  • Not at all! Making a mountain out of a mole hill is used mostly when someone makes a small thing bigger that it is to make it bold or somehow emphasize on it. It doesn't fit what I'm looking for at all. Meanwhile, I need an AmE informal term to describe such a person. (Added to my question.)
    – A-friend
    Jan 6, 2017 at 13:04
  • Also "he makes mountains out of mole hills".
    – AdrianHHH
    Jan 6, 2017 at 13:18
  • @AdrianHHH sure, or "He tends to make mountains out of mole hills", "He always makes mountains out of mole hills". I think the problem is the OP is looking for something more directly relating to the person's aggression, rather than just their tendency to exaggerate a situation, although I've absolutely used (and heard used) the mountain-mole hill phrase used to describe just such a person, although sometimes the true subtext can only be determined by spoken tone/inflections, so if the OP is looking for a succinct written term, it's probably not the most appropriate.
    – 3N1GM4
    Jan 6, 2017 at 13:21

He's a "rabble rouser" if he gets other people involved in his fights. He's "explosive" if little things enrage him.

  • 1
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    – Community Bot
    Feb 6 at 16:41

The adjective for someone who is quick to fight is


It has the same root as

pugilist = boxer, one who fights with his hands

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