I'm looking for a word/phrase which means "spoken comically at the time, but in retrospect, is appropriate/fitting to the true nature of the speaker."

If the word also has the added connotation of making the speaker unintentionally funny/buffoonish for these hidden/hypocritical that make his comic statement apropos, that'd be great.

The closest example I can think of would be a public figure who makes a joke about a topic that (s)he doesn't really believe in, and then it's later found out that they seriously believe it. IE, if a liberal politician said a joke about how a woman's place should be in the kitchen and it was taken lightheartedly (as if that's possible), but said politician was later found to be deeply misogynist, shedding light on the joke as indicative of his true belief.

Another example, self-deprecating humor that turns out to be true and a serious issue.

  • 3
    Many a true word is spoken in jest occurs hundreds of times in Google Books. Aug 17, 2015 at 0:02
  • Quite right, old chap. That's the answer; another lesser one in a similar situation is along the lines .. "there's a hint of truth in that". More generally, you often say such and such was "revealing" ... "a revealing comment".
    – Fattie
    Aug 17, 2015 at 0:05
  • There's always "out of the mouth of babes".
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 17, 2015 at 0:06
  • Hot -- really, I wouldn't say that's correct, I'm afraid. Sure, it's sort of similar.
    – Fattie
    Aug 17, 2015 at 0:07
  • Politically, there is a word that can be taken to mean this. It's known as a gaffe Aug 17, 2015 at 0:08

3 Answers 3


I'm going to go out on a limb and call it a veiled truth in the vein of veiled insult.

It's going out on a limb because "veiled insult" is, in my experience, a fairly common term, while veiled truth would require people to make understand the same metaphorical use of the adjective veiled. I'm somewhat surprised, though, that "veiled truth" is not substantially less common than "veiled insult". Though "veiled threat" is.

So, all qualifiers aside:

veiled -

Veiled words or ways of behaving are not direct or expressed clearly


Irony - The expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect; A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result - Oxford Dictionary

So in this sense the thing said would be ironic (in retrospect).


A Freudian slip


A not-funny "joke" that revealed his true colors

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