What is an appropriate English word to describe a negative, perhaps passive-aggressive, tone in someone's voice?
I initially thought perhaps using something like "they had a negative lilt in their voice" could work, but most dictionaries agree that lilt is only used for cheerful or happy tones.
I've also searched for antonyms for lilt, but I have not found any dictionaries that contain any.
I'm trying to come up with written examples. It is quite challenging because we are describing a tonal matter.
I'll present a few examples, but none are perfect. Hopefully I will be successful in conveying the general idea.
- Let's say you arrive at the doctor's office 5 minutes late. The receptionist says to you, in a bit of a snotty way, "We appreciate if all of our patients arrive on time. I'll see if the doctor can still see you."
- Let's say you make 5 calls to a businessperson's office to return their call. You make 4 of them during business hours, and one late at night. They then call you back, and say with a [need word here] "Please stop making your calls after hours." (implying you are avoiding them).
- Let's say you accommodate someone by making an appointment with them at an inconvenient location. After that appointment, they then call, using a [need word here] tone that they have scheduled another appointment at the same location.
In all the examples, the person remains professional, yet is intentionally being a bit nasty. They don't cross that fine line, because they know they have to appear to be professional. Yet, they get right up to the line in order to be passive-aggressive. There is also a bit of a condescending nature involved, as way as a bit of abuse of the power-differential in the relationships.