What do you call the gesture when someone makes a sarcastic or parenthetical side-comment? It's usually something related to the original comment that's said quietly to someone else, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes secretive. In movies, the person puts their hand at an angle near their mouth and usually raise an eyebrow if it's sarcastic. I know there's a name for that kind of gesture -- anyone know what it is? I found "side remark" in the thesaurus but it doesn't have any words that indicate something quietly shared away from or about the source comment.

  • 5
    It's generally called an "aside".
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 27, 2015 at 23:01
  • For some reason I was thinking (hoping?) there was something more specific or nuanced.
    – Amanda
    Apr 27, 2015 at 23:05
  • 1
    It's pretty specific. I suspect you were hoping for something a bit more elegant.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 27, 2015 at 23:07

5 Answers 5




3 : slyly disparaging : insinuating < snide remarks >

Snide remarks

Snide remarks are the kinds of things people say with a sneer on their face. When you leave a movie theater and your friend says, “I can't believe someone was actually paid to write that screenplay,” he's being snide.

Another possibility, which doesn't have the malicious connotation is to "interject"


vb (tr)

  1. to interpose abruptly or sharply; interrupt with; throw in: she interjected clever remarks.
  2. to come between; interpose



  1. the act of interjecting.
  2. something interjected, as a remark.
  3. the utterance of a word or phrase expressive of emotion; the uttering of an exclamation.
  4. Grammar: any member of a class of words expressing emotion, distinguished in most languages by their use in grammatical isolation, as Hey! Oh! Ouch! Ugh! Any other word or expression so used, as Good grief! Indeed!
  • Good answer for the sarcastic side. Is there something more indicative of being a secret than being sarcastic?
    – Amanda
    Apr 27, 2015 at 23:13
  • 2
    So if you combine HotLicks's comment and amdn's answer, I'd say you'd have a "snide aside." Rhymes, too.
    – Quillmondo
    Apr 27, 2015 at 23:22
  • @Amanda, something like gossip?
    – amdn
    Apr 27, 2015 at 23:27
  • 1
    I see where you're going with there. I was hoping for something focused more on being off the record--with less of a negative connotation and more of a private or confidential connotation. Maybe it doesn't exist as one word and I'm crazy. Not the first time. lol
    – Amanda
    Apr 28, 2015 at 3:18

If the aside is meant to be heard by others, it could be a stage whisper

Any loud whisper intended to be overheard.

Oxford Dictionaries Online


TALKING OUT THE SIDE OF YOUR MOUTH see English Language & Usage

or perhaps

MUTTERING UNDER YOUR BREATH: Figure of speech [spoken] so softly that almost no one can hear it. (Typically: curse ~; curse some-one or something ~; mutter ~; mutter something ~; say something ~.) John was muttering something under his breath, and I don't think it was very pleasant. I'm glad he said it under his breath. If he had said it out loud, it would have caused an argument. See The Free Dictionary under breath


a sarcastic aside

(as HotLicks said)


One idiom is "Under h(er|is) breath.". This may connote a more resentful, anti-authoritarian sort of vibe than you're going for, though. As in:

"Eat your peas, Amanda; they're good for you."
"As if you'd eat them yourself," she muttered under her breath.

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