Or maybe the word for a remark with that underlying sentiment/intention.

I'm not sure if I can properly describe the concept. But imagine a situation where you feel spite or jealous towards a person but don't want to admit or others know about it. So you're inclined to do/say something negative against the person you feel jealous or spiteful towards. You would use a remark to somehow humiliate him despite his apparent merit but you say that in a perhaps conceited way pretending that you don't even recognize the person's merit or whatever has caused you to resent him! Wow! I think I couldn't have explained my purpose any longer!

  • There's a word for it in Chinese, but AFAIK not in English.
    – busukxuan
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 9:13
  • 4
    A "back-handed compliment" is where you deliver a seemingly complimentary remark but it's meaning is actually less so. For example, "You look really good today, much better than usual". The opening part of the sentence is complimentary but the second bit is actually a veiled insult. You could maybe use the word "snide" to define it i.e. a snide comment. Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 9:18
  • 1
    In this situation I might remark to myself, "She's put a chip on my shoulder." (something she did has made me feel some kind of resent or general lasting irritation). If someone else notices this in my behavior they might say, "Hey! Has he got a chip on his shoulder!"
    – Brandin
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 10:29
  • 1
    I think what you are speaking of is not "jealousy" but rather, perhaps, "envy". Look them up. As for the kind of remark, I think you are looking for the kind of subtle put-down shown in Rory Solley's comment (also known as damning with faint praise) Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 10:52
  • 1
    You can also speak in a voice dripping with venom (or a venomous tone), or with a barbed tongue.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 19:28

2 Answers 2


Not exactly jealousy, but putting down something you don't have for yourself: (or, the person who has it) in the US we call it "sour grapes" - from Aesop's fable of "The Fox and the Grapes" (where the fox couldn't get the grapes, (he really wanted) no matter how hard he tried - so he said, "They're probably sour anyway."


If you're a female, we call it being catty. "She's being catty"; "Meow!"
I can't think of an equivalent phrase that would apply to males, but something along the lines of being sarcastic/using sarcasm perhaps.

  • 1
    Example: "I like your dress, it's very slimming." Unspoken: you're not slim.
    – W9WBH
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 8:08
  • It's definitely used by far the most often for women being catty towards other women, but I have occasionally heard it used to describe behaviour of men or people of mixed or unknown gender.
    – hemflit
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 8:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.