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sardonic

[sahr-don-ik]
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adjective
  1. characterized by bitter or scornful derision; mocking; cynical; sneering: a sardonic grin.

Origin of sardonic

1630–40; alteration of earlier sardonian (influenced by French sardonique) < Latin sardoni(us) (< Greek sardónios of Sardinia) + -an; alluding to a Sardinian plant which when eaten was supposed to produce convulsive laughter ending in death
Related formssar·don·i·cal·ly, adverbsar·don·i·cism, nounun·sar·don·ic, adjectiveun·sar·don·i·cal·ly, adverb

Synonyms

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biting, mordant, contemptuous.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sardonic

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • What sardonic contempt for all things in the intricate lines about the mouth.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • "Your lordship thinks so," said Mr. Winsley with a sardonic smile.

  • His sardonic comment brought a sudden chill to Kenneth Torrance.

    Under Arctic Ice

    H.G. Winter

  • A sardonic smile crossed his face in the darkness as he thought of what he had said.

  • He developed, as a consequence, that sardonic outlook upon the world.

    The Lion's Skin

    Rafael Sabatini


British Dictionary definitions for sardonic

sardonic

adjective
  1. characterized by irony, mockery, or derision
Derived Formssardonically, adverbsardonicism, noun

Word Origin

C17: from French sardonique, from Latin sardonius, from Greek sardonios derisive, literally: of Sardinia, alteration of Homeric sardanios scornful (laughter or smile)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sardonic

adj.

"apparently but not really proceeding from gaiety," 1630s, from French sardonique (16c.), from Latin sardonius (but as if from Latin *sardonicus) in Sardonius risus, loan-translation of Greek sardonios (gelos) "of bitter or scornful (laughter)," altered from Homeric sardanios (of uncertain origin) by influence of Sardonios "Sardinian," because the Greeks believed that eating a certain plant they called sardonion (literally "plant from Sardinia," see Sardinia) caused facial convulsions resembling those of sardonic laughter, usually followed by death. For nuances of usage, see humor. Earlier in same sense sardonian (1580s), from Latin sardonius. Related: Sardonically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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