Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Sarcasm/Verbal Disrespect

If you want to add tension and complication, an Emotional Amplifier might be just the ticket. This companion to The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression is a body language tool for describing your character’s pain, stress, illness, hunger, dehydration, attraction, and other conditions that amplify an emotional reaction.  We hope this short, sample list of expressions will help you better imagine how an amplifier makes your character more emotionally volatile…and prone to mistakes.

If you need to go deeper, we have an ebooklet of Emotional Amplifiers that contains imaginative lists of ways to show how this condition will affect your character’s mental and physical state.


  • A bemused smile
  • Asking questions that imply you already know the answer
  • A too-sweet tone
  • Choosing words that cut, degrade, or diminish
  • A hand wave that dismisses someone as unimportant
  • Raising the voice to draw attention to one’s words
  • Rapid, snappy responses
  • Narrowed eyes that glitter with a hard or unkind amusement
  • Shaking the head while another is speaking
  • A loud smacking of the lips or tsking in a condescending manner
  • Verbal agreement infused with impatience or rudeness: Okay, sure or Whatever you say
  • Belittling one’s ideas, words, or viewpoint
  • Pursed lips
  • Asking questions geared to discomfort the other person
  • Tossing the head…

Turn up the heat on your protagonist by adding conditions that will alter his mood and make him more emotionally reactive.

Grab this ebooklet for only $1.99. You can find it, along with all of our bestselling guides, at our bookstore.

Prefer the flexibility of instant online access and greater searchability?

Emotion Amplifiers is also at our sister site, One Stop for Writers Visit the Emotion Amplifier Thesaurus Page to view our complete list of entries.

If you’re ready to elevate your storytelling, stop by sometime to see if our one-of-a-kind tools and resources can help you. Registration is always free. 🙂


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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15 Responses to Emotion Thesaurus Addendum: Sarcasm/Verbal Disrespect

  1. Pingback: Resources For Describing Emotion

  2. Jaliya says:

    Sarcasm = psychic shrapnel.

  3. Great question! From what I can glean, sarcasm is more biting, acid and wholly verbal, whereas sardonicism is more an implication of mockery or disdain that slightly less sharp and more subtle, and can be delivered not only through words but conveyed without them (facial expression or a combo of facial and body language).

    Your question has made me think tho that this entry should also include sardonicism in the title tho, so I will rename it.

    Thanks for your thoughts here and for asking me to clarify. The entry is better for it. 🙂


  4. RGraham says:

    Thank you for adding Sarcasm to your material. As always, your generosity in providing this special thesaurus is sincerely appreciated.

    Now, if I may, How much trouble would it be to “show” here, the difference between Sarcasm and Sardonicism? (yes, that’s spelled correctly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sardonicism)

    I have spent a lot of time trying to find an authoritative explanation of what that difference would be, but to no satisfying end. Perhaps some day an educated poster will shed some light on this.

    The best I’ve been able to come up with is, Sarcasm is expressed in words. Sardonicism is expressed without words.

    Robert Graham
    Washington state, USA

    In Search of the Seventh Kingdom

  5. Bish Denham says:

    Great! Sarcasm, for me, as so much to do with tone. Tone of voice, tone of stance, tone of look. My mother used to say to me, “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice!”
    Sacasm…It’s a two edged sword…one edge is humor, the other edge is hurt.

  6. Angela says:

    Thanks so much, Heyjude, Kate and Yuna. We’re happy to help.

    Christine, thanks for popping in. I love ‘loaded questions and I’ll add it to the list. Thanks!

  7. christine says:

    I came here through “Rhymes with Bacon,” and loved your list so much I had to stop and tell you so.

    Married people are well acquainted with this particular list, but how enjoyable to see the wide range of sarcasm articulated here.

    I was thinking that for the fifth one down you could also say, “asking loaded questions.” As a teacher I’ve had plenty of those. And as a mother I’ve asked plenty of them.

  8. Yunaleska says:

    I’ve said it before, somewhere, but this site is going to help revolutionise my characters. They smile way too often!

  9. Kate says:

    I’ve seen so many of these at high school – from teachers and students. Spot on!

  10. heyjude says:

    A & B this is a REALLY great blog!!! Wonderful to have these thing all together like this! thanks heaps for doing it.

  11. Angela says:

    Glad we can help, PJ & Jill!

  12. Jill Wheeler says:

    Ha, love the last one!

    I’m definitely going to use some of these!

  13. PJ Hoover says:

    OMG, Thursday already!
    I love the sarcasm one! Too often my characters just smirk or roll their eyes.

  14. beth says:

    “A languid hand gesture that suggests you want the other person to speak or take the floor when it’s clear you think they’ll only prove their idiocy”

    HAHAHA!!! Love it!

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