Spite (sentiment)

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To spite is to intentionally annoy, hurt, or upset without self-benefit. Spiteful words or actions are delivered in such a way that it is clear that the person is delivering them just to annoy, hurt, or upset.[1] When the intent to annoy, hurt, or upset is shown subtly, behavior is considered catty.[2]

Spiteful behavior can be socially beneficial if it punishes offenders in order to enforce beneficial social norms.[3]

In his 1929 examination of emotional disturbances, Psychology and Morals: An Analysis of Character, J. A. Hadfield uses deliberately spiteful acts to illustrate the difference between disposition and sentiment.[4]

In fiction[edit]

The Underground Man, in Fyodor Dostoevsky's novella Notes from Underground, is an example of spite. His motivation remains constantly spiteful, undercutting his own existence and ability to live.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "spite - definition of spite in English from the Oxford dictionary".
  2. ^ http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/dictionary/DictionaryResults.aspx?refid=1861595550[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ The Psychology Of Spite: Why Humans Sacrifice Self-Interests To Punish Others
  4. ^ Hadfield, J. A. "Psychology and Morals: An Analysis of Character". Google Books preview. Retrieved 2016-05-02.