Etymology
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sarcastic (adj.)
1690s, from sarcasm, perhaps on the model of enthusiastic. Related: Sarcastical (1640s); sarcastically.
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squib (n.)
1520s, "short bit of sarcastic writing, witty scoff," of unknown origin. If the meaning "small firework that burns with a hissing noise" (also 1520s) is the original one, the word might be imitative.
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backhanded (adj.)
1765, "done with the hand turned backward," from backhand (q.v.). Figurative sense "oblique in meaning, indirect; ambivalent, sarcastic," is from 1777. Related: Backhandedly; backhandedness.
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quip (v.)

1570s, "use quips; assail with clever, sarcastic remarks," from quip (n.). The sense of "to say or reply as a quip" is by 1950. Related: Quipped; quipping.

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contumelious (adj.)

"rude and sarcastic, contemptuous, insolent," early 15c., from Old French contumelieus and directly from Latin contumeliosus "reproachful, insolently abusive," from contumelia "reproach, insult" (see contumely). Related: Contumeliously; contumeliousness.

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biting (adj.)
c. 1300, present-participle adjective from bite (v.). Sense of "severe, sharp, painful" is from mid-14c.; that of "sarcastic, painful to the mind or feelings" is from late 14c. Related: Bitingly.
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quip (n.)

"smart, sarcastic remark," 1530s, a variant of quippy in the same sense (1510s), perhaps from Latin quippe "indeed, of course, as you see, naturally, obviously" (used sarcastically), from quid "what" (neuter of pronoun quis "who," from PIE root *kwo-, stem of relative and interrogative pronouns) + emphatic particle -pe. Compare quibble (n.).

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caustic (adj.)

c. 1400, "capable of burning or destroying organic tissue, corrosive," from Latin causticus "burning, caustic," from Greek kaustikos "capable of burning; corrosive," from kaustos "combustible; burnt," verbal adjective from kaiein, the Greek word for "to burn" (transitive and intransitive) in all periods, which is of uncertain origin with no certain cognates outside Greek.

Figurative sense of "sarcastic, severely critical" is attested from 1771. As a noun "a caustic substance," early 15c., from the adjective.

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taunt (v.)

mid-15c. (implied in tauntingly), possibly [Skeat] from French tanter, tenter "to tempt, try, provoke," variant of tempter "to try" (see tempt). Or from French tant pour tant "so much for so much, tit for tat," on notion of "sarcastic rejoinder" (considered by OED the "most likely suggestion"), thus from Old French tant "as much," from Latin tantus, from tam "so;" see tandem. Related: Taunted; taunting.

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unctuous (adj.)
late 14c., "oily, having a greasy or soapy feeling when touched," from Old French unctueus, from Medieval Latin unctuosus "greasy," from Latin unctus "act of anointing," from past participle stem of unguere "to anoint" (see unguent).

Figurative sense of "blandly ingratiating" is first recorded 1742, perhaps in part with a literal sense, but in part a sarcastic usage from unction in the meaning "deep spiritual feeling" (1690s), such as comes from having been anointed in the rite of unction. Related: Unctuously; unctuousness.
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