In fiction, a mobster might have someone killed that he hates, and then give a positive eulogy at his funeral. The victim's family may even thank him for the sweet words.

A fictional dictator may assassinate people lawlessly. The dictator could then celebrate the rule of law and the Magna Carta in speeches and holidays, even though he had rendered them pointless.

Is there a word or phrase for this practice?

My many searches have not turned up any.

  • 1
    There probably is some phrase from the Caesar/Brutus thingie.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 20:01
  • Well the concept is hypocrisy. One phrase that comes to mind is, "History is Written By the Winners" alexpeak.com/twr/hiwbtw - The fact is that when you are in total command, you can say what you like. Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 20:10
  • Hypocrisy, cant, humbug, pretence.... Or perhaps just evil.
    – WS2
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 21:52
  • @WS2 "pretense" led me to "semblance of" which seems like what I'm looking for. "Semblance of" what, though?
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 22:45
  • @HotLicks: That was the other way 'round. M.A. came "to bury Caesar, not to praise him". This is praising someone that you killed.
    – Drew
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


Consider, [shed (or cry or weep)] crocodile tears

: an insincere display of grief, as in When the play's star broke her leg, her understudy wept crocodile tears. This term comes from the mistaken notion that crocodiles weep while eating their prey, one held in ancient Roman times. The actual term was picked up by Shakespeare and many other writers after him, and remains current. [Late 1500s ] The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary

: tears or expressions of sorrow that are insincere OED

  • This applies to the mobster but not the dictator. The hypothetical dictator has not acknowledged there's anything negative happening; on the contrary, he is celebrating the things he disregards.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 22:42

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