Is there a word for faking kindness/hospitality to sound more tactful and decent than you really are (which could be categorized as some sort of hypocrisy)?

For example, saying: Pay us a visit sometime! when you don't really mean it (you are just trying to sound hospitable).

I know this is not a nice thing to do but sometimes people tend to do it, so I thought it would be useful to know if there is a term for describing such an action or to find the closest possible word or phrase in case there isn't one.


8 Answers 8


I would suggest: perfunctory

According to dictionary.reference.com:

per·func·to·ry adjective

  1. performed merely as a routine duty; hasty and superficial: perfunctory courtesy.

  2. lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic: In his lectures he reveals himself to be merely a perfunctory speaker.

This might not fit as a single word for:

a word for faking kindness/hospitality to sound more tactful and descent than you really are

but you could use perfunctory as an adjective and describe your situation.

I could see through his perfunctory kindness/hospitality.

After some further research, I would recommend you to take a look at this definition of perfunctory here, especially the several examples under it's usage. I found them quite interesting. For instance, these two:

  • Hers was no perfunctory task; a mother could not have displayed greater interest in her children- "Deaconesses in Europe" by Jane M. Bancroft

  • They were not perfunctory, but genuinely genuine- "Priestley in America" by Edgar F. Smith

  • 3
    It is a good word, but it doesn't actually answer the question. "Perfunctory" does not mean "fake hospitality". Perfunctory is an adjective that can be applied to "hospitality" ... but then so is "fake". Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 8:56
  • 2
    Good one, "nominal" is similar but perfunctory is of course much better in the context of hospitality.
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:26

I'm not sure if there's a single word for fake-niceness as you describe it (and if someone here is able to find that single word, I'd be happy to take down my post). There are some words, however, that describe the emotions behind it:

If someone is being nice and they mean it, usually you say that their generosity or hospitality is sincere or genuine.


If someone is being nice, but they're faking it, usually you say that their generosity or hospitality is insincere and you can characterize them as disingenuous.

If you're trying to reply back to the person and question their duplicitous intentions, you can usually reply back to,

Pay us a visit sometime!

by saying,

Why are you feigning hospitality when you don't really mean it?

Or if you wanted to talk about this person assuming he's a man,

He sounds very hospitable every time we see him, however, his hospitality is contrived

Phew, so many English words and not a single one to condense "fake-nice"!

  • This is a good answer because it addresses the actual question: "is there a word that means fake hospitality?" instead of supplying synonyms for the word "fake". Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 8:55

The man wants a single word; let's give him a single word!


Or how do you like

Hospicritical (or, as @Cruncher says, Hospicrasy)

The nice thing about creating words out of thin air is you get to make up their definitions too. Or, to paraphrase the ever eloquent Humpty Dumpty: when I invent a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.

In this case, the words are nouns, which we choose precisely to mean:

Insincere hospitality or disingenuous offers of hospitality

  • 5
    I like hoaxpitality, but you should probably mention that these are neologisms, rather than established words. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:39
  • Good point (it may not be obvious to people who have English as a second language). Done.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:48
  • 1
    I would like Hospicrasy better :)
    – Cruncher
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:40
  • Ha! That's awesome. I'll add it to my answer.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:46

In UK English a Platitude is something employed to bulk up a sentence with politeness and extra words, but runs the risk of sounding false.

The dictionary definition may be different, but I think this is the generally accepted use of the word.



I have often used the word saccharine to describe a person who is faking sweetness.

"I am so very happy to see you! You always bring such an elegance and joy to our events. I do hope you will see fit to donate to our worthy cause instead of criticizing us like you have in years past", she said behind an obviously saccharine smile."



dis·in·gen·u·ous (dsn-jny-s)

  1. Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating: "an ambitious, disingenuous, philistine, and hypocritical operator, who ... exemplified ... the most disagreeable traits of his time" (David Cannadine).
  2. Pretending to be unaware or unsophisticated; faux-naïf.

disin·genu·ous·ly adv.
disin·genu·ous·ness n.

Usage Note: The meaning of disingenuous has been shifting about lately, as if people were unsure of its proper meaning. Generally, it means "insincere" and often seems to be a synonym of cynical ....

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

dis•in•gen•u•ous (ˌdɪs ɪnˈdʒɛn yu əs)
lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity; insincere.
dis`in•gen′u•ous•ly, adv.
dis`in•gen′u•ous•ness, n.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


I would say that they feigned goodwill. Not a word, but a phrase.

And as they left, Nesbit stood at the door feigning goodwill, "See you soon! Come back anytime!"


Coming at this very late, but I believe the word you were looking for, lo those many years ago, may have been "obsequiousness". From obsequious, "too eager to help or obey someone important, marked by or exhibiting a fawning attentiveness" (Merriam Webster)

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