I have a very long-lasting question about some quite close concepts which I am sure they have some equivalents in current English. I really appreciate it if you could do me a favor and let me find the most precise English meanings for them.

Let's assume that you as an ordinary person refer to an organization sometimes for some official affairs. There is only one person who accomplishes your needed tasks. But the first time that you meet and dealt with him, unfortunately, you had had a quarrel with him for some reasons and this is why he often keeps procrastinating your affairs intentionally or even sometimes deliberately refuses doing your affairs. (Let's forget about the possible hierarchical follow-ups.)

What do you call his action?

He is acting obstinately / stubbornly towards / against you?
— He is spiting you?

What have you done that caused him to act like that towards you in the past?

Did you make him obstinate / stubborn?

Why he is acting that ??

-He is doing to spite you?
- He is doing that out of spite?
- He is doing that to make you obstinate / stubborn?
- He is out of obstinacy against you?

Here I just have tried to make up some sentences to imply what am I looking for. I hope that they make sense to you and you could understand me intended concepts.

Please help me with this question. It is of Paramount importance for me to find the answer to this question.

1 Answer 1


In the specific example where you make a reasonable request to someone with the power to help you, but, while the person does not actually refuse the request, neither do they act on the request in a timely manner. When you ask them why, they give only useless or evasive answers.

In this case, we would call this a stonewall or stonewalling:

(v): Delay or obstruct (a request, process, or person) by refusing to answer questions or by being evasive.
(n): An act of delaying or obstructing a person, request, or process.

There are any number of reasons why this person might stonewall you -- it might be, as you say, out of personal animosity, or to protect themselves, or to protect someone higher in the organization. It could be that they take a perverse pleasure in having the power to cause other people discomfort. Or, possibly, some kind of bribe is necessary to obtain their help.

I've been trying to file this insurance claim, but the adjuster at the insurance company is no help at all. I think he's deliberately stonewalling me, but I can't imagine what I did to annoy him.

An alternate strategy with a similar result is called the runaround:

runaround (n): a series of actions or answers to questions that prevent someone from achieving something; to refuse to help someone, sending them to someone or somewhere else to get help.

Note the definite article. It's normally the runaround, not a runaround. A stonewall is when someone prevents a request through inaction. The runaround is when when someone repeatedly sends you on seemingly pointless tasks in order to literally keep you "running around" until, hopefully, you get tired and give up.

For example, Office A might say that they need a form from Office B before they can process your request. Office B says they need a form from Office C, but don't tell you that this form must be signed by someone in Office A until you've returned with the form, forcing you to go back to Office A, and then return to Office B. You eventually return to Office A, only to find that the person who normally processes your request is out for the day, and you will have to return the next day. And so on.

The deeper the bureaucracy, the more likely an ordinary person is to get the runaround -- unless they know how to cut through the red tape.

I've been trying to file this claim form but I keep getting the runaround. Do you know of someone higher up in the company I can call who might be able to push this through?

Anyway. These kind of problems are more or less universal. Every country has its share of petty bureaucrats and jumped-up officials, so it should be no surprise there is a specific word for it in English.

  • Thank you @Andrew for the interesting information. But apparantly I misleaded you. I beg your pardon for that. Let me give you some more information. Here, the key point is not "procrastination"! The key point is the grudge or that the employee has had! By saying "he is acting obstinately" I mean that he had had a cerebral and predefined planning to revenge! So he decides to upset the applicant by intentionally refusing his requests and purposefully overlooking his tasks because he is sort of a vengeful person who wants to get back the applicant's wrongdoing in the past.
    – A-friend
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 19:37
  • He has taken the applicant's behavior personally and wants to settle with him by overlooking his affairs. I wish I could make myself understood now @Andrew.
    – A-friend
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 19:37
  • @A-friend Sure, but you've described a fairly specific context for the grudge/procrastination/whatever. Is there a single word in your own language for both this behavior and the reason for it? Something that means "procrastination as a way of taking petty revenge for some offense"? There is a related phrase in English "passive-aggressive" but it's not normally applied to this context.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 20:30
  • There are three idioms from one single verb / root in my mother language @Andrew. Also I know them in four other languages. But I am sure bringing them up would be completely of no use while all of them are very long expressions. However I woud do as you wish. Meanwhile, the particular scenario I brought up, includes three questiins which I think there should be three separated idioms for them in English.
    – A-friend
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 21:25
  • 1
    @A-friend I'm just trying to get a sense of what you want to accomplish with the question. As I said in my answer actions like stonewalling can be done out of personal animosity, but you have to say that. "I think he's stonewalling me because he doesn't like me".or "He's giving me the runaround because I pissed him off"
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 15:18

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