Cocky vs Arrogant: What’s the Difference and How to Tell Them Apart?

Cocky and arrogant are two words often used interchangeably to describe someone who has an excessive amount of confidence. However, despite their similarities, there are distinct differences between the two. 

Understanding these differences can help individuals better communicate their feelings toward others and avoid misunderstandings.

According to Ask Difference, arrogance is defined as having excessive pride in oneself, often with contempt or disrespect for others. On the other hand, cockiness is described as being overly confident, arrogant, and boastful. 

I discussed in my article about how to be confident without being arrogant the fact that arrogant people want to be perceived as confident while, in reality, they are not as confident.

While both words describe someone who has or wants to show an inflated sense of self-importance, arrogance implies a lack of consideration for others, while cockiness simply implies a high level of confidence that is not necessarily correlated with being capable.


What is Cockiness?

Cockiness is a term used to describe someone who is overly confident. It is often associated with a sense of entitlement and a lack of humility. People who are cocky tend to believe that they are better than others and may act dismissively toward those they perceive as inferior.

Cockiness can manifest in various ways, such as bragging about one’s accomplishments, interrupting others in conversation, or disregarding the opinions of others. While confidence can be a positive trait, overconfidence can be a turn-off to others and may lead to negative consequences in personal and professional relationships.

I know I can’t stand someone that is always better than others, they are usually one-uppers and that is an annoying trait to have.

Some people may confuse cockiness with self-assurance, but there is a fine line between the two. Self-assurance comes from a deep sense of confidence in your abilities and accomplishments, while cockiness is based on a need to prove yourself and gain recognition from others.

In some cases, cockiness may be a defense mechanism for underlying insecurities or feelings of inadequacy. By projecting an image of superiority, a person may try to mask their doubts and fears.

Read Also: Arrogant vs Conceited

What is Arrogance?

Arrogance is a trait that is often associated with an inflated sense of self-importance. People who are arrogant tend to overestimate their own abilities, accomplishments, and importance, while underestimating those of others. They may also display a lack of empathy and disregard for the feelings and opinions of others.


Arrogance can manifest in how people talk, act, or present themselves. For example, someone who is arrogant may speak in a condescending tone, interrupt others, or dominate conversations. They may also display a sense of entitlement, expecting special treatment or privileges simply because of who they are.

Arrogance can also lead to a lack of self-awareness, making it difficult for people to recognize their own flaws and limitations. This can lead to poor decision-making and a lack of accountability for their actions. Arrogant people may also struggle to form meaningful relationships, as their behavior can be off-putting to others.

I have an article on whether arrogant people are attractive or not, in which I described why arrogant people don’t usually have lasting relationships.

It’s important to note that arrogance is different from confidence. Confidence is a healthy belief in yourself and your abilities, while arrogance is an exaggerated and often unwarranted sense of self-importance. While confidence can be a positive trait, arrogance can lead to negative consequences both for the individual and those around them.

Read Also: Stoicism vs Nihilism

Differences Between Cockiness and Arrogance

Cockiness and arrogance are two traits that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Understanding these two traits’ differences is important to avoid confusion and misunderstandings in personal and professional relationships. In this section, I will explore the differences between cockiness and arrogance in terms of behavioral, emotional, and cognitive aspects.

Behavioral Differences

  • Cocky people tend to be more outgoing and sociable, while arrogant people may come across as cold and distant. 
  • Cocky people are often seen as risk-takers, while arrogant people are seen as rigid and inflexible. 
  • Cocky people may also be more willing to take on challenges, while arrogant people may be more likely to avoid them.
  • Cocky people tend to have a more optimistic outlook on life, while arrogant people may be more pessimistic

Emotional Differences

  • Cockiness is often associated with confidence and self-assurance, while arrogance is associated with a sense of entitlement and superiority.
  •  Cocky people tend to be more self-assured and comfortable in their own skin, while arrogant people may be more insecure and defensive.
  • Cocky people can be open to feedback and criticism from time to time, while arrogant people may be more defensive and resistant to feedback.

Cognitive Differences

  • Cocky people tend to have a growth mindset, meaning that they believe that their abilities can improve through hard work and dedication. Arrogant people, on the other hand, tend to have a fixed mindset, meaning that they believe that their abilities are innate and cannot be changed.
  • Cocky people may also be more willing to learn from others and seek out new experiences, while arrogant people may be more closed-minded and resistant to new ideas and perspectives. 
  • Cocky people may also be more adaptable and flexible, while arrogant people may be more rigid and set in their ways.

Observation: From those differences, you might be tempted to believe that cocky people are much better than arrogant people, which can be true, but not always.

The biggest difference is that cocky people usually are a bit more capable, maybe not as much as they say but they tend to be cocky for a reason, while arrogant people just want to seem capable or confident. So a cocky person will try to become the best in whatever they are doing to show others that he can do it while an arrogant person will want to be seen as the best without actually doing anything.

Both behaviors are bad but they are not the same.


Similarities Between Cockiness and Arrogance

Root Causes

While cockiness and arrogance may manifest in different ways, they share similar root causes. Both stem from an inflated sense of self-importance and a need to prove themselves to others. Individuals who are cocky or arrogant often lack self-awareness and have a distorted view of their abilities and worth. A cocky person might be a bit more aware but not fully aware.

Root causes of cockiness and arrogance can also be traced back to external factors such as upbringing, societal expectations, and cultural norms. Children who are overly praised or given unrealistic expectations by their parents may develop a sense of entitlement and superiority. Similarly, cultures that value individual achievement over collaboration may foster an environment of competition and arrogance.

Negative Effects

They both have negative effects on their lives, some of the negative effects are the same for both but some are specific for each of them. However, the bottom line is the same, they are not good traits, so they will have downsides.

Both traits can lead to strained relationships, as individuals who are cocky or arrogant may struggle to connect with others.

Cockiness can lead to overconfidence and a lack of preparation in more challenging situations, resulting in failure or underachievement. On the other hand, arrogance can lead to a lack of empathy and a disregard for others’ feelings and opinions.

Both cockiness and arrogance can also have negative effects on mental health. Individuals who are overly confident or arrogant may struggle with anxiety or depression when faced with failure or criticism. They may also struggle with feelings of loneliness or isolation, as their behavior may put others off.

Read Also: Arrogance vs Narcissism

Examples of Cockiness and Arrogance

Confidence is a desirable trait, but it can turn into cockiness or arrogance when it becomes excessive. Here are some examples of cockiness and arrogance:


A person who is cocky may:

  • Boast about their accomplishments, often exaggerating them
  • Interrupt others and dominate conversations
  • Belittle or dismiss others’ opinions or ideas
  • Take unnecessary risks to prove their bravery or skill
  • Refuse to admit their mistakes or weaknesses

For instance, a cocky athlete may trash-talk their opponents before a game, insisting they will win easily. However, if they lose, they may make excuses or blame others instead of accepting responsibility.



An arrogant person may:

  • Act entitled and demand special treatment or privileges
  • Belittle or insult others to make themselves feel superior
  • Refuse to follow the rules or conform to social norms
  • Display a lack of empathy or concern for others’ feelings
  • Make decisions without consulting or considering others

For example, an arrogant boss may ignore their employees’ input and make unilateral decisions without consulting them. They may also expect their subordinates to cater to their every whim and show deference to their authority, regardless of their competence or experience.

It’s worth noting that cockiness and arrogance can be subjective and context-dependent. What one person considers confident, another may see as cocky or arrogant. 

Additionally, some people may use these behaviors as a defense mechanism to mask their insecurities or vulnerabilities. 

Therefore, it’s important to approach these traits with empathy and understanding rather than simply labeling someone as cocky or arrogant.

Read Also: How To Stop One-Upping Everyone?


The terms “cocky” and “arrogant” are often used interchangeably, but they do have distinct meanings. 

Cockiness refers to an excessive sense of confidence or self-assurance, while an overbearing sense of superiority or entitlement characterizes arrogance. 

It is important to recognize the difference between these two traits, as they can have different implications in different contexts.