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[sahr-don-ik] /sɑrˈdɒn ɪk/
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 forms
sardonically, adverb
sardonicism, noun
unsardonic, adjective
unsardonically, adverb
biting, mordant, contemptuous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sardonically
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "A touching sight, sir," said he sardonically to the landlord.

    The Tavern Knight Rafael Sabatini
  • "Costaguana for the Costaguaneros," interjected the doctor, sardonically.

  • "I can see it makes you laugh," said Mrs. Goyte, sardonically.

    Wintry Peacock D. H. Lawrence
  • They milled about him as he stood there, gazing down at them sardonically.

    Beyond the Vanishing Point Raymond King Cummings
  • "Let me know when you have settled which it is to be," he said, sardonically.

    A Study In Scarlet Arthur Conan Doyle
  • “All is not so well as you think,” said Halfman, sardonically.

    The Lady of Loyalty House Justin Huntly McCarthy
  • "Your modesty'll ruin you yet, Kent," said Abe, sardonically.

    The Red Acorn John McElroy
British Dictionary definitions for sardonically


characterized by irony, mockery, or derision
Derived Forms
sardonically, adverb
sardonicism, 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
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Contemporary definitions for sardonically

scornful, mocking; disdainfully humorous

Word Origin

Greek sardonios 'derisive''s 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin and History for sardonically



"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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