irony[ī′rə nē, ī′ər nē]
- 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
- 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.
First attested in 1502. From Middle French ironie, from Old French, from Latin īrōnīa, from Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία (eirōneia, “irony, pretext”), from εἴρων (eirōn, “one who feigns ignorance”).
(comparative more irony, superlative most irony)
iron + -y