[ sahr-kaz-uhm ]
/ ˈsɑr kæz əm /
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harsh, cutting, or bitter derision, often using irony to point out the deficiencies or failings of someone or something:He resorts to sarcasm when he senses he’s losing an argument.
a sharply ironical taunt; sneering or cutting remark: a review full of sarcasms.


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Origin of sarcasm

First recorded in 1570–80; from Late Latin sarcasmus, from Greek sarkasmós, derivative of sarkázein “to rend (flesh), sneer”; see sarco-

synonym study for sarcasm

1. See irony1.


su·per·sar·casm, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


Where does the word sarcasm come from?

On the hit TV show Friends, the character Chandler Bing can never help himself from being sarcastic. But, maybe he would think twice if he knew the origins of the word sarcasm.

Sarcasm is defined as a “sneering or cutting remark.” Fittingly, the word sarcasm comes from the ancient Greek word sarkázein, which meant “to tear flesh.” That verb became a metaphor for “speaking bitterly.”

While we always hear that sticks and stones can’t break our bones, even the ancient Greeks recognized that sarcasm feels like someone is digging into you.

The roots of these other words may get a rise—of laughter or surprise—out of you. Run on over to our roundup of them at “Weird Word Origins That Will Make Your Family Laugh.”

Did you know … ?

Many other words derive from the same Greek root as sarcasm, including sarcophagus, a word which literally means “flesh-eating.” Discover the grisly reasons why at our Words That Use sarco- article

Generally speaking, sarcasm is a form of verbal irony, in which a person says or writes one thing and means another, or uses words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of the literal meaning. For this reason, many people sometimes take sarcastic comments at face value. This is especially true online, where it’s harder to convey tone and intention—despite all our emoji and emoticons. Due to the limitations of digital communication, some people will often end a sarcastic remark with “/sarcasm” or “/s” so they don’t get misinterpreted. Sarcasm is commonly used in many kinds of humor, from self-deprecation to satire.

How to use sarcasm in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sarcasm

/ (ˈsɑːkæzəm) /

mocking, contemptuous, or ironic language intended to convey scorn or insult
the use or tone of such language

Word Origin for sarcasm

C16: from Late Latin sarcasmus, from Greek sarkasmos, from sarkazein to rend the flesh, from sarx flesh
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

Cultural definitions for sarcasm


A form of irony in which apparent praise conceals another, scornful meaning. For example, a sarcastic remark directed at a person who consistently arrives fifteen minutes late for appointments might be, “Oh, you've arrived exactly on time!”

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.