What would be the word for something that is opposite its appearance? Let me give you an example. Say there is a button that can be pushed which would instantly destroy most of civilization. Let's say that this button was decorated with a picture of a smiley face, or a kitten, or something equally "opposite".

What would be the word for the fact that the button, which would destroy the world, was adorned with the picture of a cute, innocent, kitty cat?

6 Answers 6


Not a single word, but a very effective description:

This together with some counter-intuitive iconography means that initially at least it’s not the easiest machine to use. From a review of a microwave oven in 2012.

The same form was used in 2002 by Dr Dobbs to refer to some menus that posed a challenge to users of the software Dreamweaver.


I think the word incongruous is close to what you're looking for. It is defined as:

incongruous (adjective) — not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something: the duffel coat looked incongruous with the black dress she wore underneath

The picture of a cute, innocent, kitty cat adorning the button was incongruous with the purpose of the button, which was to destroy the world.


I'd say it is:



The phrase Socio-disguise comes close to it. There is no single word though.



Whilst I cannot seriously imagine an atomic weapon behind a button with the picture of a kitten, the dastardly evil booby-trapped dolls are another matter. The generic word "evil" covers the circumstance. I suppose more fitting words can be found when specific intent is obvious, besides the plain evil trickery.


The kitten sticker is ironic. Kittens are harmless; nukes aren't.

  • So "ironic" is the word I am looking for? I just didn't think so. Another example I thought of the other day is using a lovely song as the theme music for a horror movie. I don't know why I thought there was another word, I guess I was mistaken. Thanks for the help.
    – Brian
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 18:54

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