I'm currently reading "the body keeps the score", and this passage appears in the first page of chapter 6.
(Warning: passage is about emotional trauma, do not read if you're not ready for that)
"I know I wasn't wanted", she told me, "I'm not sure when I first realized that, but I've thought about things that my mother said to me, and the signs were always there. She'd tell me, 'You know, I don't think you belong in this family. I think they gave us the wrong baby'. And she'd say it with a smile on her face. "But of course, people often pretend to joke when they say something serious".
This is a beautiful observation, one of the kind that's worthy of having its own word.
My question for you, is there a word, or phrase that more eloquently captures the idea of "pretending to joke when you say something serious"?