I'm struggling to find the most appropriate word to describe the following type of remark (italicized), or the tone behind it:

"I wish I could talk to him right now..."

"There's this great thing called a telephone that allows you to talk to people, even if they're not in the same room. You should try it."

I looked at synonyms for "sarcastic" and "condescending" I found in the Collins, Roget's and Merriam-Webster thesauruses, but didn't see a word that implied both sarcasm/indirectness and condescension. Is there a specific term for this type of remark/tone?

  • 5
    Anything wrong with condescending - it seems to fit quite well to me.
    – WS2
    Mar 8, 2016 at 22:36
  • Well, condescending is a bit long, and some people might not understand it. But that's also part of its charm. Mar 11, 2019 at 4:29
  • Did you consult a thesaurus??
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 21, 2019 at 2:01
  • @HotLicks Can’t tell if this comment is meant to be a subtle joke... if not, yes, I did. The synonyms in the three thesauri I consulted did not provide the nuance I was looking for. For instance, the neither the entries for “condescending” nor the entries for “sarcastic” provided “snide” or “snarky” as synonyms.
    – pushasha
    Mar 21, 2019 at 3:54
  • You should identify the resources you referenced and briefly explain why they did not provide the info you need. For instance, why did none of arrogant, patronizing, snooty, complaisant, disdainful, egotistic la-dee-da, lofty, snobbish, snotty, supercilious, superior, uppish, or uppity meet your needs?
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 21, 2019 at 11:35

7 Answers 7


I submit snide.

derogatory or mocking in an indirect way.

  • I never knew exactly what a "snide remark" was until now. Thank you!
    – pushasha
    Mar 8, 2016 at 22:46
  • 1
    I think the remark is too directly condescending to be regarded as snide. The latter seems to me to suggest a partly hidden, or underhand insult, where the sting is delayed.
    – WS2
    Mar 8, 2016 at 22:56
  • @WS2 I wouldn't say it's directly condescending as such. Taken literally it's helpful advice. The fact that the statement is meant to be condescending via being completely obvious doesn't make it direct condescension, but that is of course just my opinion. Mar 8, 2016 at 23:08

Perhaps "caustic," which means "sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way."


A common word these days is snarky.

sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner


Irrespective of tone, such a comment sounds like condescending sarcasm, as mentioned in one of the comments.

  • condescending - If you say that someone is condescending, you are showing your disapproval of the fact that they talk or behave in a way which shows that they think they are superior to other people.

Examples of condescending sarcasm:

  • Oh, congratulations. You've pressed the elevator button twice after it's been pressed. I'm sure it will hurry down now.
  • Oh, thank you. It sounds like a very good idea. In fact, my five-year-old son is always suggesting we try it.

This can be called patronizing

Patronizing - treat with an apparent kindness that betrays a feeling of superiority


I submit belligerent

Merriam Webster

1 : inclined to or exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness

I don't care so much the Webster def, but the Synonyms listed offer a more accurate assessment based on your question IMHO.....

Synonyms aggressive, agonistic, argumentative, assaultive, bellicose, brawly, chippy, combative, confrontational, contentious, discordant, disputatious, feisty, gladiatorial, militant, pugnacious, quarrelsome, scrappy, truculent, warlike


How about sardonic? From the definition at Dictionary.com:

sardonic adjective 1. characterized by bitter or scornful derision; mocking; cynical; sneering

  • I added a citation and link to the language that you quoted as the definition of sardonic, and I formatted it as a block quote. I'm pretty sure that the reason this answer received a downvote is that you did none of those things before submitting it. In future answers at the site, please provide citations (and links, if possible) to language that you are quoting from elsewhere. Thanks!
    – Sven Yargs
    Mar 9, 2016 at 2:52
  • mmm I see, the things a person learns...
    – riotae X
    Mar 16, 2016 at 1:14

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