- the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.
- a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.
- (especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.
- Socratic irony.
- dramatic irony.
- an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
- the incongruity of this.
- an objectively sardonic style of speech or writing.
- an objectively or humorously sardonic utterance, disposition, quality, etc.
Origin of irony1
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for ironies
All have failed at grasping its themes, ironies, and allusions.The Great Gatsby, Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Is a Relentless Assault on the Senses
May 8, 2013
“Running the farm and writing that book woke me up to the ironies of food,” Boycott says.How the London Olympic Games Will Revolutionize Food
July 24, 2012
Ironies abound, as a community uses a sports stadium, a symbol of Western culture, to combat that culture.Ultra-Orthodox Dovish on Iran?
March 20, 2012
It was the first of many Kafka-esque ironies to which I was introduced by this unassuming philosopher-playwright.Vaclav Havel Was Torn Between Socialism and Freedom
December 22, 2011
In fact, the more I reflect back on my class with Myers, the more the clues—and the ironies—pile up.My Professor, the Spy
June 9, 2009
Here, too, are the ironies whereof departed life is prodigal.Tiverton Tales
A sharp and bitter sense of the ironies of life swept across him.Robert Elsmere
Mrs. Humphry Ward
He is recording-secretary of the petty miseries and ironies of the life about him.Egoists
But she goes forth into the world alone—oh, irony of ironies!Iconoclasts
Our people never formulates; it keeps words for jests and ironies.Tono Bungay
H. G. Wells
- the humorous or mildly sarcastic use of words to imply the opposite of what they normally mean
- an instance of this, used to draw attention to some incongruity or irrationality
- incongruity between what is expected to be and what actually is, or a situation or result showing such incongruity
- See dramatic irony
- philosophy See Socratic irony
- of, resembling, or containing iron
Word Origin and History for ironies
c.1500, from Latin ironia, from Greek eironeia "dissimulation, assumed ignorance," from eiron "dissembler," perhaps related to eirein "to speak" (see verb). Used in Greek of affected ignorance, especially that of Socrates. For nuances of usage, see humor. Figurative use for "condition opposite to what might be expected; contradictory circumstances" is from 1640s.