irony[ī′rə nē, ī′ər nē]
- The definition of irony is the use of words where the meaning is the opposite of their usual meaning or what is expected to happen.
- An example of irony is someone who talks a lot having nothing to say when asked a question.
- An example of irony is a whaling ship being used to save marine animals after a tsunami.
- a method of humorous or subtly sarcastic expression in which the intended meaning of the words is the direct opposite of their usual sense: the irony of calling a stupid plan “clever”
- an instance of this
- the contrast, as in a play, between what a character thinks the truth is, as revealed in a speech or action, and what an audience or reader knows the truth to beoften dramatic irony
- a combination of circumstances or a result that is the opposite of what is or might be expected or considered appropriate: an irony that the firehouse burned
- a cool, detached attitude of mind, characterized by recognition of the incongruities and complexities of experience
- the expression of such an attitude in a literary work
- the feigning of ignorance in argument: often called (after Socrates' use of this tactic in Plato's Dialogues)
Origin of ironyFrench ironie ; from Classical Latin ironia ; from Classical Greek eirōneia ; from eirōn, dissembler in speech ; from eirein, to speak ; from Indo-European base an unverified form wer-, to speak from source word
of, like, or containing iron
- a. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.b. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning: “the embodiment of the waspish don, from his Oxbridge tweeds to the bone-dry ironies of his speech and prose” (Ron Rosenbaum).
- a. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs: “Hyde noted the irony of Ireland's copying the nation she most hated” (Richard Kain).b. An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity: the ironies of fate. See Usage Note at ironic.
- Dramatic irony.
- Socratic irony.
Origin of ironyFrench ironie, from Old French, from Latin īrōnīa, from Greek eirōneia, feigned ignorance, from eirōn, dissembler, probably from eirein, to say; see wer-5 in Indo-European roots.
(countable and uncountable, plural ironies)
- A statement that, when taken in context, may actually mean something different from, or the opposite of, what is written literally; the use of words expressing something other than their literal intention, often in a humorous context.
- Dramatic irony: a theatrical effect in which the meaning of a situation, or some incongruity in the plot, is understood by the audience, but not by the characters in the play.
- Ignorance feigned for the purpose of confounding or provoking an antagonist; Socratic irony.
- (informal, sometimes proscribed) Contradiction between circumstances and expectations; condition contrary to what might be expected. [from the 1640s]
- Some authorities omit the last sense, "contradiction of circumstances and expectations, condition contrary to what might be expected" , however it has been in common use since the 1600s.
(comparative more irony, superlative most irony)