To be more precise I mean a kind of mocking sympathy where the person is like "Aw. You poor thing.." but it's pretty sarcastic.

6 Answers 6


I can't find a single word with the meaning you want. A common two-word phrase for this concept is "mock sympathy", which often goes along with the phrase or hand gesture of "playing the world's smallest violin."

For single words, the only terms I can think of are ones that refer to sarcasm in general, rather than false expressions of sympathy in particular: scorn, sarcasm, mocking.

  • I would've tried 'pseudo-sympathy' (false sympathy) or 'quasi-sympathy' (pretended sympathy), with a preference for the latter because of the specificity of the questioner's example.
    – JEL
    Aug 4, 2015 at 4:14
  • I'd be tempted to call it "mocking sympathy."
    – Al Maki
    May 24, 2018 at 0:43

For fake sympathy I'd suggest "Crocodile tears"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocodile_tears Wikipedia Crocodile tears (or superficial sympathy) are a false, insincere display of emotion such as a hypocrite crying fake tears of grief. The phrase derives from an ancient belief that crocodiles shed tears while consuming their victims.

For meaning the opposite of what one is saying: "ironic"

Irony | Define Irony at Dictionary.com dictionary.reference.com/browse/irony Dictionary.com Irony definition, the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.


Is the word you're looking for 'patronizing'?

  • Instead of asking another question it would be better if you could substantiate your suggestion with references.
    – Nigel J
    May 23, 2018 at 22:57

This sort of remark is closely associated with the term:

deadpan -

deliberately impassive in manner

I suppose the delivery can be dripping with sarcasm, but along with, "you poor thing," you could deadpan, "Do you think I should call an ambulance?" So in that, light, deadpan is what I associate with this sort of mock sympathy. You deliver the words, but not the emotion.


if it's overdone (not necessarily sarcastic, but exaggerated, insincere, disgusting, fake) it could be called

  • cloying sympathy



pretending to feel something that you do not really feel, or not meaning what you say.


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