I'm writing a character who is cynical and cruel, but the way he speaks is very sarcastically sweet to further emphasize how jaded he is by the nature of the world and men, but I can't find a word that describes this type of "fake sweetness". He very often says stuff like "My my, if you're so bothered by my antics, what are you going to do about it?" and just sounds so pleasant and well-versed, but his tone is dripping with sarcasm, but sarcasm has connotations of bitterness or scorn and he's not being scornful, he's genuinely curious what they come up with in the hopes of entertaining him.

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    saccharine has a figurative meaning of 'sickly sweetness' which also carries connotations on insincerity. BTW, what is it that he is well versed in?
    – Spagirl
    Sep 2, 2016 at 6:16
  • This seems like a contradiction: the character is cynical and cruel, speaks sweetly (which will make him sound scornful/condescending), and you don't want this to convey bitterness or scorn? I think that can only be conveyed through characterisation.
    – kasfme
    Sep 2, 2016 at 6:18
  • @Spagirl he's a jack-of-all-trades and has been alive for a very long time, so he knows a lot about most anything, so naturally is always yearning for something new and interesting to crop up that he hasn't already experienced.
    – SueBee
    Sep 2, 2016 at 6:27
  • @kasfme he is kind of contradictory by nature, but in this context he's talking with a long-time dear friend that he's not actually trying to scorn, but rather tease with his sickly sweetness.
    – SueBee
    Sep 2, 2016 at 6:27
  • @SueBee I don't think that any specific word choice will help you. You'll need to give behavioural clues and write the dynamic between the characters in such a way that it conveys what you wish to convey (eg. the friend not taking offence.)
    – kasfme
    Sep 2, 2016 at 6:49

3 Answers 3


I'd go with saccharine

too sweet or sentimental : sweet or sentimental in a way that does not seem sincere or genuine

This derives from early use of saccharine, which was one of the first artificial sweeteners. While the resulting taste was sweet, it also had an overtone which made it fairly easy to realize that it wasn't really sugar.

  • This should be marked accepted, it's definitively the one best answer. Dec 1, 2017 at 18:59

The closest single word may be "gibe". It is the translation of the Spanish, "puya" which literally means "tack" or "thorn," but which is also used to describe a carefully crafted comment that appears to be a compliment, but is actually meant to be deflating to the one for whom it is intended (the effect of a carefully-placed tack).

For example" "That new top is perfect for you. It's remarkable the way it seems to cover those extra pounds."

"Congratulations on the new job! will you be moving out of you parents house soon?"


I'd say honeyed. A honeyed voice is sweet and pleasant to listen to but is not sincere. I'm not sure if this is accurate enough - probably only describes the tone - but hopefully it helps. Combine this with "condescending" and I think it'll pass. (Sorry, first time answering a question on here)

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