My mother never asks a direct question. For example:

  • Are you going downtown today?
  • Yes, later this afternoon, why?
  • Where will you be going?
  • To the bank, why?
  • So not to the grocery store or Walmart?
  • No but I could, why?
  • Oh, I just need some cream if you're able to pick me up some.
  • Certainly, I can do that mom.

She's an 80 year old Google freak so I'd like to let her know her method of asking questions is not very effective by making a brief comment with a term she can look up. If I get too wordy or try to explain she tends to tune out.

  • 4
    From what you've written she seems to b, asking leading questions, hinting at what she wants. Commented May 19, 2020 at 16:15
  • 2
    Your mother is simply being indirect, and you are feeding it by asking why each time. With such counterfeit questions as hers, you are guaranteed to get denials if you confront her (see my mother), but you could just ask if she needs something. Or without labeling it manipulative, you could say you are not going to the grocery, then turn and walk away (known as playing dumb). Commented May 19, 2020 at 16:21
  • See Centaurus, above. Failing that what are you Asking? Is there a specific term for the specific term "passive aggressive questions"? Yes, there is, and that term is "passive aggressive questions". Commented May 19, 2020 at 18:58
  • Thanks all. I should've added that responding with 'why' is an example of me seeing how long she can circumvent asking her question and normally I'll cut to the point immediately. Yosef, counterfeit is the term I was looking for and taking it further, I think they're 'hidden agenda' counterfeit questions. Thanks, again!
    – KTardi
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 16:37

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't call those questions "passive-aggressive". I would say your mom beats around the bush instead of getting straight to the point.

beat around the bush - Approach indirectly, in a roundabout way, or too cautiously. For example, Stop beating around the bush-get to the point. This term, first recorded in 1572, originally may have alluded to beating the bushes for game.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.