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Aggressive vs Militant vs Assertive vs Self-assertive vs Pushing vs Pushy

Aggressive, Militant, Assertive, Self-assertive, Pushing and Pushy are here compared as applied to persons, their dispositions, or their behavior, and as meaning conspicuously or obtrusively active or energetic.

Aggressive implies a disposition to assume or maintain leadership or domination, sometimes by bullying, sometimes by indifference to others’ rights, but more often by self-confident and forceful prosecution of one’s ends.

  • as intolerant and aggressive as any of the traditional satirists
    Day Lewis’
  • protect themselves against a too aggressive prosecution of the women’s business

Militant, like aggressive, implies a fighting disposition but seldom conveys a suggestion of self-seeking. It usually implies extreme devotion to some cause, movement, or institution and energetic and often self-sacrificing prosecution of its ends.

  • militant feminists
  • militant trade union
  • the cause of reform slowly went on gaining adherents—most of them . . . of the acquiescent rather than the militant type

Assertive stresses self-confidence and boldness in action or, especially, in the expression of one’s opinions. It often implies a determined attempt to make oneself or one’s influence felt.

  • somewhat too diffident, not assertive enough
  • to say, with some challenging assertive people, that trees are more beautiful than flowers

Selfassertive usually adds to assertive the implication of bumptiousness or undue forwardness.

  • self-assertive behavior incompatible with cooperativeness

Pushing, when used without any intent to depreciate, comes very close to aggressive in the current sense of the latter; however, the word is more commonly derogatory and implies, variously, officiousness, social climbing, or offensive intrusiveness.

  • an energetic, pushing youth, already intent on getting on in the world

Pushy is very close in meaning to pushing but is more consistently derogatory in connotation.

  • his motive power derives from . . . the pushiest ambition since Alexander the Great
    —R. L. Taylor
  • careful not to sound pushy or overeager