What is a single word that means sarcastic empathy? For example, when one says to you "I'm sorry. That's devastating." where devastating is obviously overly-dramatic or excessive to the point of removing the value of the preceding "I'm sorry." In a sentence, it would look like this:

"You stubbed your toe? I'm sorry. That's devastating", she said with __________.

The language itself is empathetic (the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions), but its context makes it sarcastic (marked by or given to using irony in order to mock or convey contempt.) Maybe there are better ways to describe it, but that is partly why I am asking the question in the first place. The tone in the example is mocking, executed by the duplicitous (or ironic) nature of language having a meaning other than its face value of empathy. Hopefully, that helps to clarify the question and my example.

As @Chappo added the helpful example above, which includes "... she said with _________," I too will add a bit more context. The phrase "I'm sorry, that's devastating" was actually said to me and I wanted to reply with something to the effect of "Don't berate me," or "I don't need your belittlement," but neither seemed to capture the sentiment I was wanting to convey of disdain for their fake pity, or, as stated in the original question, their sarcastic empathy. I searched for synonyms to these and other words, without discovering a satisfying solution, which ultimately lead me to post my question here. How would you reply?

  • If something is sarcastic then that automatically precludes it from being empathetic. Also, I don't see how that sentence you wrote illustrates sarcasm. It's a form of duplicity (maybe you should consider using that word?) – user180089 Jul 13 '16 at 23:03
  • maybe also consider 'Judas kiss': thefreedictionary.com/Judas+kiss ..."an act appearing to be an act of friendship, which is in fact harmful to the recipient." – user180089 Jul 13 '16 at 23:09
  • If you'd like to use the form from your question, you could say "You stubbed your toe? I'm sorry. That's devastating", she said with a sneer. Check out "sneer" (noun) at Dictionary.com. This would make it clear that the sentence was being used sarcastically, even though it seems emphatic. Sneer itself doesn't have the exact meaning you're looking for, though. – Hypnoxas Jul 14 '16 at 5:22
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    You’ll need more context than that to make that automatically sarcastic. “You’ve got your debut at the ballet tonight and you stubbed your toe? That’s devastating.” because your mom probably can’t afford to take tomorrow off from work to see you either. – Jim Jul 14 '16 at 5:49
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    But for your purpose why not “... she said sarcastically” or “... she said mockingly” – Jim Jul 14 '16 at 5:51

Are you intending to imply that the speaker is obviously joking in somewhat poor taste?

If it is intended to be transparent, what about facetious?

I had a hard time finding a single definition that encompassed the nuances, so here's a few:

Exerpt from Collins dictionary:

If you say that someone is being facetious, you are criticizing them because they are making humorous remarks or sayingthings that they do not mean in a situation where they ought to be serious.

Dictionary.com definition:

  1. Not meant to be taken seriously or literally


  1. joking or jesting often inappropriately

Basically, it can mean broadly "an inappropriate joke", and is sometimes a form of sarcasm.

Edit: if you are intending to reply to such a speaker, "don't be facetious" is a potentially appropriate response.


You may try "veiled sarcasm". I am not sure if there is a single word.

Edit: I realised that "veiled sarcasm" does not really talk about empathy. You may perhaps use "fake empathy". I know that still does not qualify it 100% to mean "sarcastic" because it can be insincere due to other reasons like a malicious vested interest.


Cheeky: rude and showing a lack of respect often in a way that seems playful or amusing.


I would just say she said sarcastically. I think the word sarcastically implies that the empathy in her speech is not at all empathetic.


The word you are looking for may be disingenuity ... or disingenuously.

From The Free Dictionary:

disengenuity: quality of being disingenuous

disingenuous: not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating; not sincere; lacking candor; lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity; insincere.

And your example:

"You stubbed your toe? I'm sorry. That's devastating", she said with disingenuity."

OR (better)

"You stubbed your toe? I'm sorry. That's devastating", she said disingenuously."

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