The term thinly veiled racism is used to describe something that is not overtly obvious. It also can be used in other scenarios where the description is so perfect it is the best fitting adjective with certain nouns e.g. thinly veiled insult.

However the adjective seem to only fit in if the noun has a negative meaning. When I apply it to other rules of society it just didn't fit in.


John only learnt the hard lesson of life much later, that you are valued by how people can benefit from you rather than your character. John realized the thinly veiled rule of society

Hillary Clinton was born dirt poor and uses her poor upbringing as a reason why she is the working-class candidate as well as using the example of her career of how she dedicated her life to serving poor people. However by looking at the incredible amount of wealth she has accumulated in her life and how much money she has received from large corporate, her thinly veiled intentions were clear. She was only primarily in office to enrich herself.

Winning in life is about beating your neighbour to get ahead while making like you are the moral person. This is the ... rule of life.

What words can I used in the above example instead

  • For the first example, maybe "this unwritten rule". For the second, "thinly veiled" works...
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


They both "work", but I choose to use thinly veiled when something was intentionally trying to be hidden. It doesn't seem to me that society intends to hide this "rule" from John, but that is an unwritten rule, as @Silenus commented.

The Hillary example is a little better, because she is trying to hide the fact that she is "primarily in office to enrich herself".

Regardless, I would use "unwritten rule" for your first example, and "true intentions" for the second.

  • 2
    @devc2 - "unspoken rule" also works for the first example. For the second: "actual intentions" is an alternative.
    – Graffito
    Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 21:37

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