There is a saying in Hindi in India "teri lal" which translates "yours is red" which means "Whatever the case may be you are right" as in "you are always right". It is a sarcastic way of telling (usually) a know-it-all person (but not meant truly) "you are right".

Is there an equivalent version of this phrase in English?

Example

Rohan (the know-it-all): The moon is a sphere
John: hmmm
Rohan: The moon has its own light.
John: OK "teri lal" (you are right – sarcastically)

closed as primarily opinion-based by MetaEd Nov 27 at 23:36

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    Good question. I feel like this is a perfectly commonplace situation, but I can’t think of a specific thing you’d be likely to use in English in this context. I think it would be more intonational; you might say something like, “Erm, yeah, sure… whatever you say”, but it would be the tone of voice that conveys the sarcasm. If you say the exact same words in a sprightly, cheerful voice, it would carry an entirely different meaning. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 20 at 10:18
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    An English professor once told his class that there were numerous cases in English sentence construction where a "double negative" could mean a positive, but there was no case where a double positive could mean a negative. To which one of his students replied, "Yeah, right." – Hot Licks Nov 20 at 12:53
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    Exact equivalents of all aspects of an idiom are usually very difficult. Does the Hindi phrase come from a longer story? Does 'red/lal' have connotations in other phrases that are related to this 'you are always right' idea? – Mitch Nov 20 at 13:21
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    “Yeah, right” feels like an open challenge. “Wow! You are so smart.” ( said with whatever level of intonated sarcasm you like) can sometimes be slid past the recipient ) You can add a knowing wink to other listeners when you know they also know what an idiot the speaker is. – Jim Nov 20 at 15:29
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    Some more detail would be appreciated. The sense I get is that the goal isn’t to challenge the speaker—say they are wrong and argue the point—but rather to accept their claim in a dismissive way that says you don’t really agree but also don’t want to argue about it. “Sure, we’ll pretend you’re right because it’s not worth anyone’s time arguing with you, you think you know everything.” If that’s the case, alwayslearning’s answer is by-far the best. But the question could be clearer about this, if I am getting the right impression. – KRyan Nov 20 at 15:37

11 Answers 11

up vote 41 down vote accepted

Though I agree with the others that the sarcasm is usually implied in the tone of the speaker, there is an idiomatic expression which implies a non-committal agreement without sounding overly offensive: whatever you say

TFD(idioms):

whatever you say

I accept what you say, and I'm not going to argue with you.
Usually implies that one doesn't really agree with the other person, but is going to do it to avoid a conflict.

A: "Don't worry about the auditors, just run the numbers like I told you." B: "OK, whatever you say, boss."

A: "I told you, my parents let me borrow the car whenever I want." B: "Whatever you say."

Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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    It’s worth noting that while this isn’t offensive, it is pretty rude and dismissive when done sarcastically. You are not avoiding conflict out of respect for the other person, but rather out of disrespect—you don’t think they’re worth correcting, or even capable of being corrected. Which seems to match teri lal quite perfectly, if I am getting the right impression. – KRyan Nov 20 at 15:40
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    This is often reduced just to the single word "Whatever!". And yes, it's annoying. – Monty Harder Nov 20 at 19:23
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    cf. "If you say so..." – Tashus Nov 20 at 22:27
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    @Tashus, you should add it as an answer. – alwayslearning Nov 21 at 5:56
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    I have found the tone of "As you say" seems to be a little less harsh to people than "whatever you say." From years of using both phrases, I have found less adverse reactions to when I have used the latter, even if it is the same person. – Paul Beverage Nov 21 at 18:07

The most direct parallel might be the English expression "Yeah, right."

On the surface, it literally means, Yes, you are correct, but is universally accepted as meaning just the opposite, e.g., "No way," or "As if."

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    It's also the punch line to a well known linguistics joke: reddit.com/r/Jokes/comments/3a60z6/a_double_positive – Barmar Nov 20 at 16:10
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    This is where I might just say "riiiiight", dragging out the "i" like that. – only_pro Nov 20 at 17:55
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    Sometimes framed as invitation to continue, "Do tell." This is a British form. Brits are more inclined to irony than sarcasm, and the inflection may be omitted to encourage the victim to continue making a fool of himself for the entertainment of others present. – Peter Wone Nov 21 at 0:48
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    Example worth watching (and entire movie in case you haven't seen it): youtube.com/watch?v=-4iiGXoRoAg . Especially check the fragment from 2:20 and how Nick (the fox) answers Judy (the bunny) at 2:23. – Ister Nov 21 at 8:13
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    Another great answer! – Fattie Nov 22 at 3:18

In English, just like in most languages, the perception of sarcasm lies in inflexion, modulation of intonation, rather than the words themselves.

One might say "Oh, really?" and intonation alone can make it a sarcastic remark or not. Likewise, depending on context, several other remarks can be sarcastic and ironic.

  • "How interesting!"
  • "You don't say!"
  • "You're so knowledgeable!"
  • "X, you're here to educate us."

More about sarcasm in 1 and 2

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    While sarcasm is all about tone, there is a phrase that comes to mind immediately in this situation, and none of these are it. The latter two I have never heard used that way, and sound weird to me. – KRyan Nov 20 at 15:31
  • Example worth watching (and entire movie in case you haven't seen it): youtube.com/watch?v=-4iiGXoRoAg . Especially check the fragment from 2:20 and how Nick (the fox) answers Judy (the bunny) at 2:23. I know I put the same comment under two different answers but it does apply to both. – Ister Nov 21 at 8:14

There's a Scottish term for this. It's "Aye, right". It has to be said with a fair amount of sarcasm.

When you have just said something to someone that they don’t quite believe, they are very likely to reply by saying – Aye, Right!! - https://scotlandwelcomesyou.com/scottish-sayings/

The joke goes that a teacher is explaining double negatives to her class and says that although two negatives make a positive, there are no examples where two positives make a negative. From the back of the classroom comes the phrase "Aye, right".

-- Just noticed Hot Licks' comment above. I guess it's not purely a Scottish thing!

  • Yet another good answer! – Fattie Nov 22 at 3:19

There's an old joke about an English teacher telling the class, “In English, a double negative is a positive. But a double positive is never negative!”

A student tells her, “Yeah, yeah.

(Or @alwayslearning’s excellent answer.)

If said with a sarcastic tone, a simple "Sure." is enough.

Sure

  1. colloq. (orig. N. Amer.). Used sarcastically to express scepticism or incredulity. Frequently in oh, sure, yeah, sure. Cf. right int. 1.
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    The longer you draw out that 'u' sound the more sarcastic it is. "Sure" is mildly dismissive. "Suuuuuure" is much more so. – Joe McMahon Nov 20 at 21:46
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    Short breath, sigh, "Sure". Or "Sure, why not", as if you were exposed to violently surrealist concepts but can accept another person's opinion with abject stoicism. – mckenzm Nov 21 at 2:31
  • yet ANOTHER good answer! – Fattie Nov 22 at 3:19

Indeed, perhaps.

Indeed is used widely and idiomatically both interrogatively and as an interjection, expressing (according to the intonation) irony, contempt, amazement, incredulity, or the like (OED)

‘That's Jarsper's.’ ‘Indeed?’ said Mr. Datchery.

Edwin Drood (Dickens, 1870) xviii. 141 (OED)

  • Christopher Judge is a master of this. He uses it in Stargate for just about every situation. – Ruadhan2300 Nov 20 at 15:22
  • This is a very good answer to point out . This occurs in a lot of literature, especially in the past, but still quite frequently in british literature, as it very succinctly encapsulates exactly what OP is asking, and has the added benefit of not being overtly rude which is perfect for the very dry, British, one-eyebrow-raised-but-still-polite type of humour. – Esco Nov 26 at 0:32
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    However, the word 'indeed', especially used by itself as a query is not used verbally much any more by those under 50 years old in my Australian English, (and USA English A.F.A.I.K) and sounds a little bit formal or 'posh', and likely, old fashioned. So I can imagine it's meaning and subtleties will become more and more puzzling to readers and learners of english as time goes on. – Esco Nov 26 at 0:36
  • Yup, certainly seems that way - books.google.com/ngrams/… – Dan Nov 26 at 1:07

I agree with alwayslearning's answer, but in New Zealand English, the phrase "Yeah right" is strongly associated with a decades-long billboard marketing campaign by DB Breweries for their Tui brand. You should always assume it is intended sarcastically, regardless of tone.

Tui ad: I'm going to study really hard this year. Yeah right.

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    Agreed. "Yeah right" is almost always sarcastic. – Fattie Nov 22 at 3:20

My mother always says (sarcastically / indulgently)

"I'll believe you, but thousands wouldn't".

(We're australian, UK ancestry, my mum is in her late 60s) EDIT: Aha! It's not just my mum:

The following is from "The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" found on google books

I believe you but thousands wouldn't - a catchphrase retort that is used to express doubt or, at best, reserve judgement about the veracity of the person being addressed. - Quotation: "It's the God's honest truth I'm telling you, Johnny". Mellors stood frowning down at him for a moment, then he said,"All right kid, I'll believe you but thousands wouldn't. Now sleep it off" (Derek Bickerton, Payroll 1959)

The following is from https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/I_believe_you,_thousands_wouldn%27t

I believe you, thousands wouldn't

  1. (Britain, Ireland, sarcastic) Used to indicate that the speaker does not put faith in something they have just heard.
    • Quotation: 2004, Sandra Newman, The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done: A Novel, →ISBN, page 185: You weren't working on germ warfare five years ago." "Non-lethal," she cries. "Oh, how you can not see." "Well, I believe you, thousands wouldn't […]

Personal note:
I've always liked this phrase because it's kind of sweet how it doesn't accuse the person of speaking rubbish outright :)
In fact, my mum said this to a number of tall tales I relayed to her from classic works of literature such as "1001 crazy facts from around the world for kids", which although I now realise were more 'sensationalised-and-hard-to-disprove-historical/urban-myths', at the time, I was quite wounded by her implicit accusation, and would launch into a passionate defence of my source, yet I also felt a bit smug because, like the phase taken literally, I knew something which was quite obscure, and likely thousands actually wouldn't! :)

"Yes, Socrates" works, and doesn't require any particular inflection or tone of voice to convey the sarcasm.

http://dailynous.com/2017/03/20/how-socratic-was-socrates/ "philosophers have been pushing this macho schtick from the beginning. Socrates is indeed their hero; if only they could do what he does, whether it be reducing their debating partners to silence or, even better, extracting succinct concessions to their intellectual superiority: “Yes, Socrates,” “You are quite right, Socrates,” “That is indeed true, Socrates,” “I dare say, Socrates,” and so on."

http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/a-non-philosophers-guide-to-plato/ "Thus there is a fair amount along the lines of: “Why yes, Socrates.” And, “It would seem so, Socrates,” and not much in the way of complaints about being unfairly backed into a corner."

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    You might be getting downvotes here for not having any references, which is a shame because this is a good answer to add to the list. "Did you know that the moon emits its own light?", "Sure it does, Einstein" sounds like perfectly normal casual English, and your point about not needing the particular sarcastic tone is very valid. – ymbirtt Nov 21 at 10:05
  • @ymbirtt I'm sure you're right about the downvotes. I posted it on impulse, and references proved scarcer than I expected. But I've added one. "Yes, Socrates" doesn't work quite the same way as "Sure it does, Einstein." Socrates isn't a generic genius, who's always right. He's a person you just can't win an argument with (so don't bother trying). Plato arranges that his opponents put up a token resistance, then meekly concede defeat. At least that's the idea behind the idiom (if it is an idiom). – Scott Nov 21 at 14:28
  • "Sure thing, Socrates", "smart thinking, Einstein" and "nice shot, Nimrod" are phrases which I'd certainly consider to be english idioms, in which someone insults a victim else by making a sarcastic comparison to someone famously good at whatever the victim failed to do. I think a good answer like yours would include a reference to this particular idiom, rather than vague information about who certain philosophers were. You might then mention a particular philosopher as being particularly apt for the "person who cannot ever be argued with" charicature once you've established the idiom. – ymbirtt Nov 21 at 15:09
  • Too late to edit, but "someone insults a victim else by" should read "someone insults a victim by" – ymbirtt Nov 21 at 15:17
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    I think this would only apply if the person was asking a lot of questions instead of making statements. Because that was his style. – Chloe Nov 21 at 18:03

My new favorite is

You're not wrong

Which implies they may be technically correct but are still incorrect in spirit. Or put another way, it implies they may not be wrong, but they aren't necessarily right either.

I wouldn't say it's entirely sarcastic, but more of a funny quip.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=you%27re%20not%20wrong

"you're not wrong" = "you're right", however phrasing it as "you're not wrong" usually that there's more to it -- either there's some missing nuance, or the speaker agrees grudgingly or doesn't like this truth or wishes it wasn't so, etc.
Alice: Bob, you drink too much.
Bob: You're not wrong.


Something someone says when they dispute what you're saying but does so in an underhanded way. It's often followed by a "but".

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    Not in Australia. This is just our way of saying yes, possibly somewhat emphatically. "Jeez it's hot today." "You're not wrong there, mate." – mcalex Nov 22 at 6:00

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