So the scenario would be such as this:

William is in a hurry to get his medicine from a pharmacy in Walmart, which is about to close. Worried that the pharmacy would close before he gets there, he parks in the disabled parking spot. A stranger watches him do that and tells him

Stranger: "You can't park there, man, it is for disabled parking only.

William: I know, but it won't take more than a minute and I am in a hurry.

Stranger: No, you gotta take your car off from the disabled parking spot"

William: "You are a cop? Or you are a vigilante or who are you to tell me not to park there and not understand my urgency here?"

So my question here. If William wants to negatively describe him with a word, what would he say?

  • 1
    I think the grouping together of "socially unjust" and "legally prohibited" into a single term doesn't really work. They're two very different concepts.
    – xgord
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 0:58
  • 4
    @GhaithAlrestom Then you need to put that in your question (there's an 'edit' link beneath it) rather than in the comments. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 1:44
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    Is legalist the word you're looking for?
    – shawnt00
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 3:26
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    @P.E.Dant Maybe so, but that was inherent in the first version of the question. (And, of course, while e.g. speed limits are democratically determined, some people stick to them rigidly, and even tell others to do the same, while some go a bit over, and some go a lot faster. You can't ignore that kind of difference in favor of basic theory about how laws are decided: there is a real distinction between practical worldviews of obeying those laws.) Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 3:33
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    I argue that a reasonable person/law/whoever should warrant exceptions of the law under urgent or demanding circumstances. A reasonable person would say that in William’s situation, the benefits way outweigh the possible harm that might occur because of Williams’ illegal action. Now you might say, if we allow William, then everybody else would do. But that’s not really right. There is only one person at that moment who is in a hurry to get his medicine. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 4:52

6 Answers 6


According to your comment: "...someone who applies his moral principles to every situation regardless of the specifics of a circumstance would be called a narrow-minded, sanctimonious, pious person." I think this might help:



adjective, literary

showing stern and inflexible judgement.

'Rhadamanthine moralists'

  • That is a very interesting word. How did you come across such a word? Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 2:11
  • -1 because this answer is, literally, not useful. Even if the OP did choose to use that word, 99.9999999% of his/her audience would not know what it meant. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 2:16
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    @AlanCarmack I am familiar with the word. I disagree that just because a word doesn't come up regularly in casual conversation that it's not worth knowing about. Rhadamanthine and Rhadamant are really great words to have in your pocket when you need them.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 2:21
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    @P.E.Dant, Quoting the OP's comment "I incorrectly phrased the question. I should have phrased it in a way that would yield an answer such as "someone who applies his moral principles to every situation regardless of the specifics of a circumstance would be called a narrow-minded, sanctimonious, pious person. I blame my English skills for not yielding the answers close to what is in my mind."
    – shin
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 2:29
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    @AlanCarmack: If the most applicable word/phrase for a given request is a highly unusual one, that in itself is useful information for any learner -- showing that English doesn't really support the concept well -- although this answer could stand to call out the rarity of the word more clearly. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 2:47

If I answer the question as stated (Version 3), then I agree that legalist is a good choice, and in the context you provide, it would be used in a negative way. This refers specifically to William's taking umbrage at the stranger's insistence on the letter of the law. Another term would be stickler for the law, although this stickler for the rules was specifically ruled out in the now obsolete Version 1 of the question. Closely associated with legalist or legalistic is pedant, which crops up in the case of grammar nazis, but which can generally apply to

A person who is excessively concerned with minor details and rules

(Oxford dictionary)

Taking a broader view, William can call the stranger just about any word in the book of negative words, although I think asshole particularly fits the overall situation, since the stranger is

An irritating or contemptible person.

You could also guy the stranger meddlesome

Fond of meddling; interfering

with to meddle meaning

Interfere in or busy oneself unduly with something that is not one’s concern

To William, it is not really the stranger's concern.

Interfering, pedantic, legalistic asshole would work. That is more than one word, but then again word can mean "a brief remark" (link to Merriam-Webster dictionary)

  • Let's be certain that Mr. Alrestom understands that his use of the suggested term of opprobrium is likely to result not in the conflict's resolution, but to its expansion beyond the merely verbal into a much less ephemeral and more immediately active realm. Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 7:32

Legalist seems to fit well as an adherent of legalism which is:

strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit.


  • Does legalist describe someone who might "reprimand or tell the other not to do anything that is socially unjust?" Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 3:34
  • @P.E Dant Not sure that it does. As others have noted I'm not sure what to picture or how to fit that into a single concept. I think this encompasses most of the question though.
    – shawnt00
    Commented Aug 2, 2016 at 3:41

How about "Dad"?

What are you my Dad? Go mind your own [expletive] business.

Some other gems from the thesaurus:

Meddler, Busybody

(my favorites)

Buttinsky, Sidewalk superintendent


There's also Hall monitor from the volunteer, usually a student, who would patrol the halls during class times, hunting for students who might be trying to skip class.

A: "You can't park there!"
B: "What are you, the hall monitor? Get lost!"

There is an excellent borrowing from German: Blockwart. It perfectly describes the sort of self-righteous legalistic busybody, and the link in fact describes a fellow in Germany doing exactly as you describe.

See the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockleiter for the origin in Nazi party organization.

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