There is no specific word for it in my mother tongue. Imagine the situation when he meets a group of people, maybe he just met them, with few words he can start a fight among them and the turn against each other. Any word for that?

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    Instigator is a more general term for someone who likes to cause trouble, but it doesn't have the specific nuance of turning people against each other.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 4, 2015 at 21:40

3 Answers 3


Heh, in 1960's British English, one of my favorite movies called a character like that "a real mixer". I've never heard that in everyday speech in America, though.

I can think of words like "quarrelsome" that could be used that way, but usually mean getting himself into fights instead of others.

Well, if no one else comes up with something, maybe you can bring "mixer" back into fashion. I'd love it if you did.

  • I like your suggestion 'mixer', although you won't find it in most dictionaries in that sense, I dug out one definition :-). I'd love to know which movie was it, but even without that a +1 from me :-)
    – Lucky
    Jul 4, 2015 at 23:29
  • You don't say which specific movie you're referring to, but I'd have said that (both now and back in the 60s), a real mixer is far more likely to be used to mean either someone who mixes (socializes) easily with others (standard register), or someone who habitually mixes it (gets involved in fights with others himself, primarily Cockney slang). Jul 5, 2015 at 15:25
  • Sorry to leave you both hanging, it was "A Hard Day's Night", the Beatles's first foray into movies. It's just a really fun and silly movie with tons of character. Always been one of my favorites. Jul 7, 2015 at 4:25
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    Link here and here. Another relevant bit: "You two have never had an argument in your life and in two minutes flat he's got you at it. He's king mixer. He hates group unity so he gets everyone at it." Jul 7, 2015 at 4:40

If any of you out there saw The Beatles' movie "A Hard Days Night" Paul says his grandfather is a "King Mixer." He further says that his grandfather hates group unity so he gets everyone at it. I guess it means he gets friends arguing, or something like that. It must be a term used in England.


In (fairly vulgar) BrE slang, there's...

shit-stirrer - someone who makes trouble for other people, especially by making known facts that they would prefer to keep secret.

In some conversational contexts you could use He's a [right/real/etc.] stirrer to tone down the vulgarity (which doesn't have to imply a deleted shit, but many native speakers would assume it did).

For more formal contexts you might consider...

troublemaker - a person who habitually causes difficulty or problems, especially by inciting others to defy those in authority.

It's worth paying particular attention to the different "common contexts" following especially in those two definitions. But they don't always apply (i.e. - you might call someone a troublemaker because he habitually reveals sensitive personal secrets which will lead to conflict among others, just as you might call him a shit-stirrer if he's always encouraging others to defy authority).

Having said that, I must admit that because those two "standard" associations are so well established, I might sometimes "lapse" into the vulgar usage even in conversational contexts where I would otherwise tend to avoid it, simply because it's the only really precise term for that specific sense.

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