I wonder what would you normally call someone who has a chip on their shoulder informally? (What I am looking for can be considered as an offensive idiom/expression/adjective by most people.) Such people have many complexes and most of the time treat others in an offensive, aggressive or unfair manner, because there is something eating them from inside. Psychologically they have been treated in the past very bad once or for a long time, and they want to revenge in this way; because deep down inside they consider all the surrounding people guilty.

For instance:

Mother: Did you go to that department today and talk to the director?
Daughter: No, mom! And I won't go. They're a bunch of ____________

I wonder what would you use in the blank?

  • I think it would depend on the origin of the complex they have, I don't know if there is a collective term for it. E.g. misogynists, chauvinists, homophobes etc. Maybe calling them arrogant [x]s, or snobs but I'm not sure they fit the discription?
    – Gamora
    Jun 18, 2019 at 13:22
  • The origins are mostly social deprivations or some unsatisfied feelings in childhood within the society and many times some comparisons between oneself and the more prosperous class of the society and sometimes just personal jealousy etc. But @Bee I am looking for an informal term or at least something that all people use it without sounding formal or being stilted.
    – A-friend
    Jun 18, 2019 at 13:27
  • As I said, I'm not sure the word you're looking for exists, although I am quite happy to be proven wrong! You might want to consider posting this on ELU instead. Personally, I'd probably just use tw*ts ;)
    – Gamora
    Jun 18, 2019 at 13:29
  • I see @Bee :))) But the problem is that first of all it is BE and I suspect Americans use it. Also, it has only a vulgar usage and you cannot say it to a person you want to be a little more polite with. ;)
    – A-friend
    Jun 18, 2019 at 13:51
  • Ah see I call people that in front of my mum all the time!
    – Gamora
    Jun 18, 2019 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


Though I could summarise our discussion in the comments in hopes the question can be answered (or at least it will push it back to the front page where you might get someone else attempting)!

They have a chip on their shoulder.

To have a chip on one's shoulder refers to the act of holding a grudge or grievance that readily provokes disputation.

They have a bit of a complex.

To have a complex is to have an emotional problem caused by unreasonable fears or worries

They are (emotionally) wounded.

To be offended or upset by what someone has said or done

They just want {payback/retribution/vengeance/to penalise me} for something I haven't done.

Payback -​ something bad that is done to you because of something bad that you have done previously Retribution - deserved and severe punishment vengeance - action against someone to punish that person for having hurt you To penalise someone - to treat someone in an unfair way and make them have a disadvantage

They're a bunch of narcissists.

To be narcissistic is to be extremely self-centered with an exaggerated sense of self-importance : marked by or characteristic of excessive admiration of or infatuation with oneself

  • 1
    I think it will just be clear from context weather you mean it as an insult or not. It's certainly negative but not always meant as an insult
    – Gamora
    Jul 18, 2019 at 11:40

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