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 for sardonic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sardonically

Contemporary Examples of sardonically

Historical Examples of sardonically

  • "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

British Dictionary definitions for sardonically


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

Word Origin for sardonic

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 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