irony [ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-]
noun, plural ironies.
1. the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.
a. a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.
b. (especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.
3. Socratic irony.
4. dramatic irony.
5. an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
6. the incongruity of this.
7. an objectively sardonic style of speech or writing.
8. an objectively or humorously sardonic utterance, disposition, quality, etc.
[read more]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.
Origin: 1495-1505; < Latin īrōnīa < Greek eirōneía dissimulation, sarcasm, understatement, equivalent to eírōn a dissembler + -eia -y
1. consisting of, containing, or resembling the metal iron: an irony color.
1350-1400; Middle English; see iron, -y
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