- 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
- consisting of, containing, or resembling the metal iron: an irony color.
Origin of irony2
Examples from the Web for irony
It may be fun and it may get them paid, until oversaturation ruins our sense for irony and destroys the market for it.Trolls and Martyrdom: Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie
January 9, 2015
The irony did not escape one local, Laith Hathim, as he stood and watched the newly minted refugees make their way into Mosul.Has the Kurdish Victory at Sinjar Turned the Tide of ISIS War?
December 27, 2014
The irony has thinned with the economy, perhaps: Who can really afford just to pretend to DIY today?Glenn Beck Is Now Selling Hipster Clothes. Really.
Ana Marie Cox
December 20, 2014
Lacking any sense of irony, Eldridge made campaign-finance reform a signature plank.The Rise and Fall of Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge, America’s Worst Gay Power Couple
December 9, 2014
The irony is that communities are protesting stereotyping—as cops respond in stereotypical ways.The St. Louis Rams Enter the Ferguson Fray
December 1, 2014
Here is a specimen of his graceful blending of irony and humor.The Works of Whittier, Volume VI (of VII)
John Greenleaf Whittier
But there was irony in Caroline's voice as she spoke; and she sighed heavily.Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete
She pronounced these words with a smile, which was not altogether without a tinge of irony.The Black Tulip
Alexandre Dumas (Pere)
He was just the sort of man to indulge in irony for his own satisfaction.The Slave Of The Lamp
Henry Seton Merriman
Prada had grown somewhat calmer, but remained full of irony.The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete
- 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 irony
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.