This is not done to evade the question, but rather offered perhaps in consolation. Such as when one is looking for the doctor, who is currently out of reach, and you say, "how about I give you a cup of coffee and a magazine (while you wait)."

The counter proposal does not address the question at all, but it is not done in trickery. I don't mean it as a non sequitur. It means something closer to "in lieu" of... I just forgot the phase or term that defines this situation.


A sop.

sop [noun] [C; usually singular] [connotation of disapproval]

something of little importance or value that is offered to stop complaints or unhappiness:

  • Critics see the increase in defense spending as a sop to the armed forces rather than an improvement of national security.

[Cambridge Dictionary]

  • Nice. Sounds more appropriate!
    – user405662
    Mar 23 '21 at 16:46
  • 1
    I'm not sure that either 'phatic' nor 'sop' works too well with a 'nice cup of tea'. Either a register or a connotation worry. Mar 23 '21 at 16:50

Perhaps phatic is the word that's slipping your mind.

of, relating to, or being speech used for social or emotive purposes rather than for communicating information


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