To be specific, this statement refers to a phrase in which the writer/speaker's intention of being sarcastic is not disclosed to the reader/listener (deliberately or accidentally). The effect strongly depends on the vocal inflection placed on the statement. Is there a better word or phrase than "ambiguous sarcasm"?


This includes the case in which the speaker is unsure about his or her intentions, leaving the implication of the statement for interpretation.

  • See english.stackexchange.com/questions/26621/…
    – adj7388
    Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 22:25
  • Probably: Disguised sarcasm/scorn.
    – user66974
    Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 22:26
  • It's not quite "disguised" though. It could be that the speaker deliberately tried to make a statement which could be interpreted either way. Or perhaps the speaker doesn't actually know whether the statement is sarcastic or not. Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 22:29
  • 1
    Could 'enigmatic' or 'cryptic' suggest the idea ?
    – user66974
    Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 22:33
  • 2
    "That test looks impossible." It could mean that the test was really easy (obvious sarcasm), or that the test was actually hard (no sarcasm). If spoken with the correct inflection, it could be ambiguous whether the test was difficult or not. Commented Sep 2, 2014 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


'Droll' (adj) refers to unusual, often sarcastic or dry humor. An example of 'droll' is a wry and sarcastic yet funny comment (Yourdictionary.com). 'Drollerie' (n.) is the noun form. Here's an example from a movie: The British film version of Oscar Wilde's play 'An Ideal Husband'. Friend of the jilted Lord Goring: 'There are plenty of other fish in the sea.' Lord Goring: 'I have no desire to marry a fish.'

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