For example, you're in a room with three people. You're talking to one person and the other is getting kind of stupid or is doing something that you find dumb.

To insult them without them catching on to what you actually mean, you come up with a statement that you say to the person that you're talking to, and it sounds like you're talking about something else, like your dog, but you're really insulting the person.

  • Btw, what is this type of language called?
    – Kris
    Aug 23, 2013 at 8:00
  • The words Deride and Mock comes to mind
    – mplungjan
    Aug 23, 2013 at 12:15
  • A related term (but not what you are looking for) is 'dogwhistle', which means using words in such a way that they sound normal to most people, but there's an underlying connection that a small group of people will understand for themselves. Lots of political speech supposedly has lots of 'dogwhistles'.
    – Mitch
    Sep 14, 2013 at 19:25

4 Answers 4


You could say that is a veiled insult.


I like "innuendo."

Webster's Definition

Related Words


It's called charientism

derived from a Greek word meaning a figure of speech wherein a taunting expression is softened by a jest, an insult veiled in grace (wiki)

Edit: I just found another earlier reference to this form of Rhetoric: it is also referred to as charientismus.

Also commonly referred to as backhanded complement

Another term for this type of backhanded compliment is asteism

polite and ingenious irony (freedictionary.com)

  • Can you add that to one answer and delete the other? And link to the terms using [ word ] ( URL ) - but who says it is supposed to be softened?
    – mplungjan
    Aug 23, 2013 at 11:58

It is not a single term for it, but if you are paraphrasing an insult you might call it "hidden slander".

  • 2
    Slander is a specific type of insult with possible legal ramifications The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation.
    – mplungjan
    Aug 23, 2013 at 8:45
  • Still, I have seen "hidden slander" used for this. At least, if the person targeted gets the insult, they might sue for slander afterwards.
    – skymningen
    Aug 23, 2013 at 9:21
  • How? If I say Monkey see, Monkey do to my friend, how can the person I refer to sue for slander?
    – mplungjan
    Aug 23, 2013 at 9:28
  • I am not saying they would win the lawsuit.
    – skymningen
    Aug 23, 2013 at 10:02
  • 1
    Slander is a false statement. It does not imply an attempt to insult.
    – MetaEd
    Aug 23, 2013 at 12:27

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