My girlfriend (we'll call her Mary) recently had a loss in her family, and many friends and family were posting comments to Mary's Facebook page expressing their condolences. However, Mary couldn't help but feel that a lot of those comments were insincere. Many of those who were leaving comments had Mary's personal cell phone number, so she found it somewhat peculiar that they would write on her Facebook page where everyone can see instead of texting her privately. It was Mary's granmda who passed away. A few days prior, one relative had left an angel figurine at her bedside as a gift. When the news broke out that Mary's granmda had passed, that same relative posted on Mary's Facebook page asking somewhat impudently if whether or not the angel figurine was in the same room when it happened. Mary couldn't help but feel as if that relative was trying to be boastful about the figurine.

Is there a single word that describes this behavior? A word that means expressing insincere kindness in order to draw attention to oneself? It's not flattery, though I feel it's similar to it.

I apologize if I'm not being clear, or if this question has been posted before.

  • 1
    I can't think of a word for it offhand, but it sounds like a close cousin of humblebrag.
    – Gnawme
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 19:29
  • I'm glad you posted this question. I've had the same intrigued into such a person, one whose extensions of consolation are nothing more than capitalized opportunities of grandstanding. And with that I'll leave an answer. Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 19:35
  • 2
    I really like "humblebrag". Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 20:27
  • Perhaps something based on moirologist (professional mourner) ? Like a self-serving moirologist ?
    – k1eran
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 21:50
  • On the flip side, unless her friends have experienced a loss themselves, they will probably not really understand what your girlfriend is going through and what would actually help her out.
    – jxh
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 23:42

7 Answers 7


I would say this woman is "grandstanding"

Which is described by the MW as the following:

3grandstand : to behave or speak in a way that is intended to impress people and to get public approval.

I would add a qualifier like "subtle grandstanding" or "grandstanding veiled as consolation".

  • Your grandstand citation is off, but it is a single character so I can't edit it, since I would have to change five more :)
    – Helmar
    Commented Jul 20, 2016 at 9:19
  • Are you talking about the 3 next to the word? Because that denotes the 3rd definition in the MW. Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 2:21
  • Oops, but maybe you want to add a ">" before anyways ;)
    – Helmar
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 8:00

Sycophancy comes to mind. In the self-seeking manner that is.


a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.


A person who acts obsequiously towards someone important in order to gain advantage.



Going in a slightly different direction, we could use unctuous do describe this behavior or the person themselves. I think that the ingratiating aspect in particular applies although it isn't necessary for something to unctuous.


Insincerely smooth in speech and manner;

Excessively flattering or ingratiating; oily


Consider obsequious(ness), i.e. marked by or exhibiting a fawning insincere attentiveness.

The sense of the latin etymoligy obsequiae itself coming from exsequiae (« funeral pump or procession) that was kept in "obsequies" but is totally absent from "obsequious".


Fulsome is pretty close: "complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree," with the attention-grab being implicit.


Any one of the following could work. I like poseur especially, for some reason.

What a poseur he is!

If you really want to impress someone, pronounce poseur, pō-zœr′. You might also use:

  • phony

  • fake

  • impostor

  • hypocrite

  • fraud

  • dissembler

  • hoaxer

  • pretender


How about "Job's comforter "?

Job comforter means a person who aggravates distress under the guise of giving comfort. I think this is what is going on in your described situation. Some background knowledge about this term

"Poor Job. He's the biblical character who endures extraordinary afflictions in a test of his piety. He loses his possessions, his children, and his health. And then, to make matters worse, three friends show up to "comfort" him. These friends turn out to be no comfort at all. Instead, they say that the things that have been happening to him happen to all sinners-and point out a number of his faults. In the mid-18th century, English speakers began using the phrase Job's comforter for anyone who offers similarly unhelpful consolation." Hope this helps.

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