I came up with the term "condescending." Example being "Why did you ask this follow-up question? I've already helped you far more than your colleagues" and "You are already supposed to be self-propelling. I'm going out of my way to instruct you on your work." when coming from a boss. But, that may not be the word.

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    To be clear, the second example of a boss's response might be described as "condescending," since it contains some arrogance. The first isn't necessarily "condescending," though it might be many other things—hostile, aggressive, demanding, stingy, nearsighted, and as mentioned below, belittling... Dec 2, 2021 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


I don't think there's a specific word for "being made to feel bad for asking a question". You can describe what the boss did as condescending:

showing that you think you are more important or more intelligent than other people

or say that your boss embarrassed you:

to make someone feel nervous, ashamed, or stupid in a social situation

or belittled you:

to say or think that someone or something is unimportant or not very good

but those are more general, and you'd have to describe the situation in more detail.

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    (also - I've never seen the term self-propelling being used towards people. The metaphor is clear, but it doesn't seem idiomatic to me - any specific examples of that usage?). Dec 2, 2021 at 12:31
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    A near-synonym of "belittle" that might also work is "humiliate". Dec 2, 2021 at 12:35

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