A rhetorical question is a question asked in order to make a point, without expectation of an answer.

Here is something similair, and I want to know if there exists a name for it, I'll illustrate it using an example (an epic dialogue).

1: You're ugly.

2: You should look in a mirror.

Here advice (not actually advice I guess, but I don't know the correct word) is given in order to make a point, without expectation of someone actually following that advice. Is there a name for this?

p.s - I'm sorry but someone edited the title wrongly which has caused (good but) mostly irrelevant answers.

  • 1
    Informally, I would say that "rhetorical statement" might be the way to go.
    – rosends
    Jan 14, 2013 at 18:05
  • I think this is the rhetorical device known as "I know you are, but what am I?
    – Robusto
    Jan 14, 2013 at 18:30
  • 1
    Rhetorical suggestion would seem to be closer to what I think is meant though the idea is that the advice is merely a starting point is something else to note here. The idea being that if someone sees themselves in a mirror that there would be more changes to come, assuming the idea is that once the person seems oneself in the mirror this will cause some other adjustment.
    – JB King
    Jan 14, 2013 at 21:33

6 Answers 6


Tu quoque:

(Latin for "you, too" or "you, also") or the appeal to hypocrisy, is a logical fallacy that attempts to discredit the opponent's position by asserting the opponent's failure to act consistently in accordance with that position

  • 2
    That might be true for this example, but I meant these types of things in general. Jan 14, 2013 at 18:56
  • @ZafarS: so a term that also describes: "You're ugly!", "Yeah, well you smell!"? Jan 14, 2013 at 20:04
  • No, the edit ruined the question, I don't know why it was done this way. Jan 14, 2013 at 20:53
  • @Zafar: The title was edited because it's a bit unclear and confusing, and therefore not very helpful. Instead of rolling it back, I suggest you work to reword it better, and see if you can use it to steer us in the right direction. Maybe something like A Piece of Advice Given as a Rhetorical Statement could work.
    – J.R.
    Jan 15, 2013 at 10:13
  • @J.R. It's better to have an unclear title than a wrong one. Also, I don't think it can be made much more clear than it is now, I'll keep it this way for now and if more confusion arises I'll edit it. Jan 15, 2013 at 20:09

It’s generally called a retort.

From Oxford English Dictionary (OED):

retort, v.1

Senses relating to reply or retaliation in kind.

To throw or hurl (a charge, accusation, epithet, etc.) back (against, †in, on, †to, or upon the originator).


I guess the saying 'tit for tat' corresponds to what you're looking for.

Merriam Webster

an equivalent given in return (as for an injury) : retaliation in kind

tit-for-tat adjective


You can say "Allow me to retort".


The sentences you mentioned as examples are uttered more to convey an emotion, rather than convey factual information ("You're stupid!") or request action ("Bite me!"). Such sentences are called exclamative or exclamatory sentences.

You can find more examples at 1 and 2.



Noun. transference - (psychoanalysis) the process whereby emotions are passed on or displaced from one person to another; during psychoanalysis the displacement of feelings toward others (usually the parents) is onto the analyst.

displacement - (psychiatry) a defense mechanism that transfers affect or reaction from the original object to some more acceptable one.


displacement [dɪsˈpleɪsmənt] n

5 . (Psychoanalysis) the transferring of emotional feelings from their original object to one that disguises their real nature.



Therefore, let me concoct the term "transferential counter-statement":

Making a counter statement to transfer one's alleged shortcomings back to the accuser.

And the phrase "emotional displacement by counter-statement":

Making a counter-statement to displace one's emotions to the accuser.


Also, allow me to concoct another term "deflective counter-statement":

Making a counter statement to deflect one's alleged shortcomings back to the accuser.

However, it need not apply only to shortcomings. It could apply to deflectinng praise and virtues. For example,

Girl 1: You are so..ooo pretty.

Girl 2: You are so much prettier. Look at your curls.

Examples of usage of my newly concocted terms:

  • She attempted emotional displacement by counter-stating my allegations.
  • The terrorist conducted a campaign of transferential counter-statements to declare that the US were the actual terrorists.

And finally, "transferential preemptive-statement" or "predictive transference":

Making similar or equivalent allegations against an opposing party's expected allegations to preempt or prevent the opposing party from making such allegations, or to preemptively dilute the opposing party's expected allegations.

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