irony

1
[ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-]
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noun, plural i·ro·nies.


Origin of irony

1
1495–1505; < Latin īrōnīa < Greek eirōneía dissimulation, sarcasm, understatement, equivalent to eírōn a dissembler + -eia -y3

Synonyms for irony

1, 2. Irony, sarcasm, satire indicate mockery of something or someone. The essential feature of irony is the indirect presentation of a contradiction between an action or expression and the context in which it occurs. In the figure of speech, emphasis is placed on the opposition between the literal and intended meaning of a statement; one thing is said and its opposite implied, as in the comment, “Beautiful weather, isn't it?” made when it is raining or nasty. Ironic literature exploits, in addition to the rhetorical figure, such devices as character development, situation, and plot to stress the paradoxical nature of reality or the contrast between an ideal and actual condition, set of circumstances, etc., frequently in such a way as to stress the absurdity present in the contradiction between substance and form. Irony differs from sarcasm in greater subtlety and wit. In sarcasm ridicule or mockery is used harshly, often crudely and contemptuously, for destructive purposes. It may be used in an indirect manner, and have the form of irony, as in “What a fine musician you turned out to be!” or it may be used in the form of a direct statement, “You couldn't play one piece correctly if you had two assistants.” The distinctive quality of sarcasm is present in the spoken word and manifested chiefly by vocal inflection, whereas satire and irony, arising originally as literary and rhetorical forms, are exhibited in the organization or structuring of either language or literary material. Satire usually implies the use of irony or sarcasm for censorious or critical purposes and is often directed at public figures or institutions, conventional behavior, political situations, etc.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


Examples from the Web for ironies

Contemporary Examples of ironies

Historical Examples of ironies

  • Here, too, are the ironies whereof departed life is prodigal.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • 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

    James Huneker

  • But she goes forth into the world alone—oh, irony of ironies!

    Iconoclasts

    James Huneker

  • Our people never formulates; it keeps words for jests and ironies.

    Tono Bungay

    H. G. Wells


British Dictionary definitions for ironies

irony

1

noun plural -nies

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
philosophy See Socratic irony

Word Origin for irony

C16: from Latin ironia, from Greek eirōneia, from eirōn dissembler, from eirein to speak

irony

2

adjective

of, resembling, or containing iron
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 ironies

irony

n.

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.

irony

adj.

"of or resembling iron," late 14c., from iron (n.) + -y (2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ironies in Culture

irony

The use of words to mean something very different from what they appear on the surface to mean. Jonathan Swift uses irony in “A Modest Proposal” when he suggests the eating of babies as a solution to overpopulation and starvation in Ireland.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.