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Encyclopedia > Irony

Irony is a literary or rhetorical device, in which there is an incongruity or discordance between what a speaker or writer says and what he or she means, or what is generally understood. Alanis Morissette European singles chronology Ironic is a song written by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, and produced by Ballard for Morissettes third album Jagged Little Pill (1995). ... A literary technique or literary device may be used in works of literature in order to produce a specific effect on the reader. ... In rhetoric, a rhetorical device or resource of language is a technique that an author or speaker uses to evoke an emotional response in his audience (his reader(s) or listener(s)). These emotional responses are central to the meaning of the work or speech, and should also get the... This article needs cleanup. ...


In modern usage it can also refer to particularly striking examples of incongruities observed in everyday life between what was intended or said and what actually happened.


There is some argument about what is or is not ironic, but all the different senses of irony revolve around the perceived notion of an incongruity between what is said and what is meant; or between an understanding of reality, or an expectation of a reality, and what actually happens.


Irony can be humorous, but it does not have to be.


The term Socratic irony, which was coined by Aristotle, refers to the Socratic Method. It is not irony in the modern sense of the word[1]. Socratic Method (or Method of Elenchus or Socratic Debate) is a dialectic method of inquiry, largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts and first described by Plato in the Socratic Dialogues. ...

A "no smoking" notice adorns the Sherlock Holmes tiles in Baker Street tube station, a prime example of situational irony.
A "no smoking" notice adorns the Sherlock Holmes tiles in Baker Street tube station, a prime example of situational irony.

Contents

Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1600 × 1200 pixel, file size: 230 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (1600 × 1200 pixel, file size: 230 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... No Smoking sign. ... This article is about Arthur Conan Doyles fictional detective. ... This article is about the London Underground station on Baker Street. ...

Types of irony

Most modern theories of rhetoric distinguish between three types of irony: verbal, dramatic and situational.

  • Verbal irony is a disparity of expression and intention: when a speaker says one thing but means another, or when a literal meaning is contrary to its intended effect. An example of this is sarcasm.
  • Dramatic (or tragic) irony is a disparity of expression and awareness: when words and actions possess a significance that the listener or audience understands, but the speaker or character does not.
  • Situational irony is the disparity of intention and result: when the result of an action is contrary to the desired or expected effect. Likewise, cosmic irony is disparity between human desires and the harsh realities of the outside world (or the whims of the gods). By some older definitions, situational irony and cosmic irony are not irony at all.

Sarcasm is the sneering, sly, jesting, or mocking of a person, situation or thing. ...

Verbal irony, including sarcasm

Verbal irony is distinguished from situational irony and dramatic irony in that it is produced intentionally by speakers. For instance, if a speaker exclaims, “I’m not upset!” but reveals an upset emotional state through her voice while truly trying to claim she's not upset, it would not be verbal irony just by virtue of its verbal manifestation (it would, however, be situational irony). But if the same speaker said the same words and intended to communicate that she was upset by claiming she was not, the utterance would be verbal irony. This distinction gets at an important aspect of verbal irony: speakers communicate implied propositions that are intentionally contradictory to the propositions contained in the words themselves. There are examples of verbal irony that do not rely on saying the opposite of what one means, and there are cases where all the traditional criteria of irony exist and the utterance is not ironic. In psychology and common terminology, emotion is the language of a persons internal state of being, normally based in or tied to their internal (physical) and external (social) sensory feeling. ... Personification of virtue (Greek ἀρετή) in Celsus Library in Ephesos, Turkey Virtue (Latin virtus; Greek ) is moral excellence of a person. ...


Ironic similes are a form of verbal irony where a speaker does intend to communicate the opposite of what they mean. For instance, the following explicit similes have the form of a statement that means P(X) but which conveys the meaning not P: Look up simile in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

  • as funny as cancer
  • as clear as mud
  • as pleasant as a root-canal

The irony is recognizable in each case only by using stereotypical knowledge of the source concepts (e.g., mud, root-canals) to detect an incongruity. In modern usage, a stereotype is a simplified mental picture of an individual or group of people who share a certain characteristic (or stereotypical) qualities. ...


A fair amount of confusion has surrounded the issue regarding the relationship between verbal irony and sarcasm, and psychology researchers have addressed the issue directly (e.g, Lee & Katz, 1998). For example, ridicule is an important aspect of sarcasm, but not verbal irony in general. By this account, sarcasm is a particular kind of personal criticism leveled against a person or group of persons that incorporates verbal irony. For example, a person reports to her friend that rather than going to a medical doctor to treat her ovarian cancer, she has decided to see a spiritual healer instead. In response her friend says sarcastically, "Great idea! I hear they do fine work!" The friend could have also replied with any number of ironic expressions that should not be labeled as sarcasm exactly, but still have many shared elements with sarcasm. Sarcasm is the sneering, sly, jesting, or mocking of a person, situation or thing. ...


Research shows that most instances of verbal irony are considered to be sarcastic, suggesting that the term sarcasm is more widely used than its technical definition suggests it should be (Bryant & Fox Tree, 2002; Gibbs, 2000). Some psycholinguistic theorists suggest that sarcasm ("Great idea!", "I hear they do fine work."), hyperbole ("That's the best idea I have heard in years!"), understatement ("Sure, what the hell, it's only cancer..."), rhetorical questions ("What, does your spirit have cancer?"), double entendre ("I'll bet if you do that, you'll be communing with spirits in no time...") and jocularity ("Get them to fix your bad back while you're at it.") should all be considered forms of verbal irony (Gibbs, 2000). The differences between these tropes can be quite subtle, and relate to typical emotional reactions of listeners, and the rhetorical goals of the speakers. Regardless of the various ways folk taxonomies categorize figurative language types, people in conversation are attempting to decode speaker intentions and discourse goals, and are not generally identifying, by name, the kinds of tropes used. Psycholinguistics or Linguistics of psychology is the study of the psychological and neurological factors that enable humans to acquire, use and understand language. ...


Tragic irony

Tragic irony can only take place in a fictional context. In this form of irony, the words and actions of the characters belie the real situation, which the spectators fully realize.


Tragic irony particularly characterized the drama of ancient Greece, owing to the familiarity of the spectators with the legends on which so many of the plays were based. Sophocles' Oedipus the King provides a classic example of tragic irony at its fullest and finest. For other uses of Greek Theatre, see Greek theatre (disambiguation). ... The term ancient Greece refers to the periods of Greek history in Classical Antiquity, lasting ca. ... For other uses, see Legend (disambiguation). ... This article is about the Greek tragedian. ... Greek Wikisource has original text related to this article: Oedipus the King Oedipus the King (Greek , ( ) or Oedipus the Tyrant), also known as Oedipus Rex, is a Greek tragedy, written by Sophocles and first performed ca. ...


Irony threatens authoritative models of discourse by "removing the semantic security of ‘one signifier : one signified’";[2] irony has some of its foundation in the onlooker’s perception of paradox which arises from insoluble problems. In semiotics, a sign is generally defined as, ...something that stands for something else, to someone in some capacity. ... In semiotics, a sign is generally defined as, ...something that stands for something else, to someone in some capacity. ... Look up paradox in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


For example:

  • In the William Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo finds Juliet in a drugged death-like sleep, he assumes her to be dead and kills himself. Upon awakening to find her dead lover beside her, Juliet kills herself with his knife.
  • In O. Henry's story The Gift of the Magi, a young couple are too poor to buy each other Christmas gifts. The man finally pawns his heirloom pocket watch to buy his wife a set of combs for her long, beautiful, prized hair. She, meanwhile, cuts off her treasured hair to sell it to a wig-maker for money to buy her husband a watch-chain.

Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... Not to be confused with Oh Henry!. O. Henry is the pen name of American writer William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). ... The Gift of the Magi is a short story written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter), allegedly at Petes Tavern[1][2] on Irving Place in New York City. ...

Dramatic irony

In drama, the device of giving the spectator an item of information that at least one of the characters in the narrative is unaware of (at least consciously), thus of placing the spectator a step ahead of at least one of the characters. Dramatic irony involves three stages: installation, exploitation and resolution.


For example:

  • In City Lights, we know that Charles Chaplin's character is not a millionaire, but the blind flower girl (Virginia Cherill) does not.
  • In Cyrano de Bergerac, we know that Cyrano loves Roxane and that he is the real author of the letters that Christian is writing to the young woman; Roxane is unaware of this.
  • In North by Northwest, we know that Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is not Kaplan; Vandamm (James Mason) and his acolytes do not. We also know that Kaplan is a fictitious agent invented by the CIA; Roger and Vandamm do not.
  • In Oedipus the King, we know that Oedipus himself is the murderer that he is seeking; Oedipus, Creon and Jocasta do not.
  • In Othello, we know that Desdemona has been faithful to Othello, but he doesn't. We also know that Iago is pulling the strings, a fact hidden from Othello, Desdemona, Cassio and Roderigo.
  • In Pygmalion, we know that Eliza is a woman of the street; Higgins's family does not.
  • In Titanic, we know that the ocean liner is going to hit an iceberg and sink, but the passengers and crew cannot know this.
  • In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we know that Anakin Skywalker will become Darth Vader and that Palpatine is Darth Sidious, but the Jedi do not.

City Lights is a 1931 film written by, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. ... For the Jamaican musician named Charlie Chaplin, see Charlie Chaplin (singer). ... Cyrano de Bergerac is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand based on the life of the real Cyrano de Bergerac. ... This article is about the film. ... This article is about the actor. ... James Neville Mason (May 15, 1909 – July 27, 1984) was a three-time Academy Award nominated English actor who attained stardom in both British and American films. ... Greek Wikisource has original text related to this article: Oedipus the King Oedipus the King (Greek , ( ) or Oedipus the Tyrant), also known as Oedipus Rex, is a Greek tragedy, written by Sophocles and first performed ca. ... For other uses, see Othello (disambiguation). ... Play cover, depicting Mrs Campbell as Eliza Pygmalion (1913) is a play by George Bernard Shaw based on Ovids tale of Pygmalion. ... Look up titanic in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Titanic may refer to: RMS Titanic, the British ocean liner that sank in 1912 Films entitled Titanic, based upon the sinking: Titanic (1943 film), a German film directed by Werner Klingler and Herbert Selpin Titanic (1953 film), directed by Jean Negulesco S... Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the third episode of the Star Wars film series (but the sixth film to be produced), to be released on Thursday, May 19, 2005. ... Anakin Skywalker is the central character in the Star Wars franchise. ... For information on this characters appearance in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, see Anakin Skywalker. ... Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, who often contacts his minions via hologram. ...

Situational irony

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a story whose plot revolves around irony. Dorothy travels to a wizard and fulfills his challenging demands to go home, before discovering she had the ability to go back home all the time. The Scarecrow longs for intelligence, only to discover he is already a genius, and the Tin Woodsman longs to be capable of love, only to discover he already has a heart. The Lion, who at first appears to be a whimpering coward turns out to be bold and fearless, The people in Emerald City believe the Wizard to be a powerful deity, only to discover he is a bumbling eccentric old man. Oz Portal
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a story whose plot revolves around irony. Dorothy travels to a wizard and fulfills his challenging demands to go home, before discovering she had the ability to go back home all the time. The Scarecrow longs for intelligence, only to discover he is already a genius, and the Tin Woodsman longs to be capable of love, only to discover he already has a heart. The Lion, who at first appears to be a whimpering coward turns out to be bold and fearless, The people in Emerald City believe the Wizard to be a powerful deity, only to discover he is a bumbling eccentric old man.
Oz Portal

Definition: irony of a situation is a discrepancy between the expected result and actual results when enlivened by 'perverse appropriateness'. This is a relatively modern use of the term -- see "Usage Controversy", below. This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a childrens novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W.W. Denslow. ... For other uses, see Intelligence (disambiguation). ... A genius is a person of great intelligence. ... The Tin Woodman or Tin Woodsman, also known in films as Tin Man, is a character in L. Frank Baums Oz books. ... For other uses, see Love (disambiguation). ... Cowardice is a vice. ... For other uses, see Emerald City (disambiguation). ... See also: List of deities Look up deity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Image File history File links Portal. ...



For example:

  • When John Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, all of his shots initially missed the President; however a bullet ricocheted off the bullet-proof windows of the Presidential limousine and struck Reagan in the chest. Thus, the windows made to protect the President from gunfire were partially responsible for his being shot.
  • Monty Python's last comedy album The Hastily Cobbled Together for a Fast Buck Album was continuously delayed from release for various reasons, having yet to see an official release, and has since been made available online for free by the group, thus making the album neither hasty nor earning the group a single buck.
  • If someone were to go on a trip and decide not to take a plane because they are worried about crashing, and take a bus instead, it would be ironic if a plane hit the bus they took, thereby realizing their fears of crashing with a plane, despite measures taken at the outset of the journey to avoid such a fate.

John Warnock Hinckley, Jr. ... The major events of the assassination attempt The Reagan assassination attempt occurred on March 30, 1981, just 69 days into the presidency of Ronald Reagan. ... Reagan redirects here. ... Monty Python, or The Pythons,[2][3] is the collective name of the creators of Monty Pythons Flying Circus, a British television comedy sketch show that first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969. ... A comedy album is an audio recording made by one or more stand-up comics. ... The Hastily Cobbled Together for a Fast Buck Album is a album that has never been released by the Monty Python troupe. ...

Irony of fate (cosmic irony)

The expression “irony of fate” stems from the notion that the gods (or the Fates) are amusing themselves by toying with the minds of mortals, with deliberate ironic intent. Closely connected with situational irony, it arises from sharp contrasts between reality and human ideals, or between human intentions and actual results. In Greek mythology, the white-robed Moirae or Moerae (Greek Μοίραι – the Apportioners, often called the Fates) were the personifications of destiny (Roman equivalent: Parcae, sparing ones, or Fatae; also equivalent to the Germanic Norns). ...


For example:

  • In 1974 the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 80,000 of its own lapel buttons promoting toy safety. The buttons had paint with too much lead, sharp edges, and clips that could be broken off and swallowed. [3]
  • Importing Cane Toads to Australia to protect the environment only to create worse environmental problems for Australia.
  • Jim Fixx, who did much to popularize jogging as a form of healthy exercise in his 1977 book The Complete Book of Running, died at the age of 52 of a heart attack (a death associated with sedentary, unhealthy lifestyles) while out jogging.
  • In the Kalgoorlie (Australia) gold rush of the 1890s, large amounts of the little-known mineral calaverite (gold telluride) were identified as fool's gold, and were discarded. The mineral deposits were used as a building material, and for the filling of potholes and ruts. (Several years later, the nature of the mineral was identified, leading to a minor gold rush to excavate the streets).

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (U. S. CPSC) is an independent agency of the U.S. federal government created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act to protect “against unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products”. As of 2006 its acting chairman is Nancy Nord, a... Binomial name (Linnaeus, 1758) Distribution of the Cane Toad. ... James F. Fixx (April 23, 1932 – July 20, 1984) was the author of the 1977 best-selling book, The Complete Book of Running. ... Jogging is a form of trotting or running at a slow or leisurely pace. ... Heart attack redirects here. ... Kalgoorlie may refer to the following geographically related places: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, a city and council in Western Australia; Division of Kalgoorlie, a federal division of the Australian House of Representatives located around the geographical area; Electoral district of Kalgoorlie, an electoral district of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly. ... For other meanings, see Gold rush (disambiguation) A gold rush is a period of feverish migration of workers into the area of a dramatic discovery of commercial quantities of gold. ... Calaverite or Gold telluride is an uncommon telluride of gold; it is a metallic mineral. ... The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, is iron disulfide, FeS2. ...

Historical irony (cosmic irony through time)

When history is seen through modern eyes, it sometimes happens that there is an especially sharp contrast between the way historical figures see their world and the probable future of their world, and what actually transpired. What we now refer to as "World War I" was originally called "The War to End All Wars"; this is an example of historical irony. Historical irony is therefore a subset of cosmic irony, but one in which the element of time is bound up.


For example:

  • "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Nearly the last words of American Civil War General John Sedgwick before being shot through the eye by a Confederate sniper.[4]
  • In Dallas, in response to Mrs. Connally's comment, "Mr. President, you can't say that Dallas doesn't love you," John F. Kennedy said, "That's very obvious." He was assassinated immediately afterwards.[5]

Examples of irony in history: Major General John Sedgwick John Sedgwick (September 13, 1813 – May 9, 1864) was a teacher, a career military officer, and a Union Army general in the American Civil War. ... John Kennedy and JFK redirect here. ...

  (October 21, 1833, Stockholm, Sweden—December 10, 1896, Sanremo, Italy) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, armaments manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite. ... This article is about a high explosive. ... A modern black powder substitute for muzzleloading rifles in FFG size Gunpowder (also called black powder) is a pyrotechnic composition, an explosive mixture of sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate (also known as saltpetre or saltpeter) that burns rapidly, producing volumes of hot solids and gases which can be used as... Nitroglycerin (NG), also known as nitroglycerine, trinitroglycerin, and glyceryl trinitrate, is a chemical compound. ... Combatants Second French Empire North German Confederation allied with South German states (later German Empire) Commanders Napoleon III François Achille Bazaine Patrice de Mac-Mahon, duc de Magenta Otto von Bismarck Helmuth von Moltke the Elder Strength 400,000 at wars beginning 1,200,000 Casualties 150,000... Belligerents Germany Romania Italy Hungary Soviet Union Commanders Adolf Hitler Friedrich Paulus # Erich von Manstein Wolfram von Richthofen Petre Dumitrescu Constantin Constantinescu Italo Gariboldi Gusztáv Vitéz Jány Viktor Pavičić Josef Stalin Vasily Chuikov Aleksandr Vasilevsky Georgiy Zhukov Semyon Timoshenko Konstantin Rokossovsky Rodion Malinovsky Andrei Yeremenko Strength... Ypres, 1917, in the vicinity of the Battle of Passchendaele. ... Hitler redirects here. ... Fritz Haber (9 December 1868 – 29 January 1934) was a German chemist, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his development of synthetic ammonia, important for fertilisers and explosives. ... Zyklon B label — Note that “Gift” translates as “poison” Zyklon B was the tradename of a pesticide ultimately used by Nazi Germany in some Holocaust gas chambers. ... For other uses, see Holocaust (disambiguation) and Shoah (disambiguation). ...

Irony in use

Ironic art

One point of view has it that all modern art is ironic because the viewer cannot help but compare it to previous works. For example, any portrait of a standing, non-smiling woman will naturally be compared with the Mona Lisa; the tension of meaning exists, whether the artist meant it or not.


While this does not appear to exactly conform to any of the three types of irony above, there is some evidence that the term "ironic art" is being used in this context [6]. This definition could extend to any sort of modern artistic endeavour: graphic design; or music (sampling, for example). Graphics are often utilitarian and anonymous,[1] as these pictographs from the US National Park Service illustrate. ... This article is about reusing existing sound recordings in creating new works. ...


Comic irony

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice begins with the proposition “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” In fact, it soon becomes clear that Austen means the opposite: women (or their mothers) are always in search of, and desperately on the lookout for, a rich single man to make a husband. The irony deepens as the story promotes his romance and ends in a double wedding. This article is about the novel. ...


Comic irony from television sketch-comedy has the distinction over literary comic irony in that it often incorporates elements of absurdity. A classic example is where a shark trying to impress his shark friends by learning to surf. He then surfs so well that his friends mistake him for an actual surfer and eat him. [7]


Comic irony has long been a staple of comic strips, in which the action is free to be unrealistic. An example is a notable Far Side cartoon in which a hapless cat is trapped against an inside house window, having to watch the once-in-a-lifetime consequences of a collision outside between a truck labeled "Al's Rodents" and another labeled "Ernie's Small Flightless Birds". This article concerns the Far Side comic strip. ...


Metafiction

Main article: Metafiction

Metafictions are kinds of fiction which self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction. It usually involves irony and is self-reflective. Metafiction (or “romantic irony” in the sense of roman the prose fiction) refers to the effect when a story is interrupted to remind the audience or reader that it is really only a story. Examples include Henry Fielding’s interruptions of the storyline to comment on what has happened, or J.M. Barrie’s similar interjections in his book, Peter Pan. Daniel Handler’s (known as Lemony Snicket) A Series of Unfortunate Events could also be considered a form of romantic irony, in which the action is frequently halted for a warning that the events to follow could be potentially distressing. Kurt Vonnegut wrote in metafiction in such critically acclaimed books as Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions and Cat's Cradle. The concept is also explored in a philosophical context in Sophie's World, by Jostein Gaarder. A similar example occurs in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy novel where the narrator reveals in advance “in the interest of reducing stress” that nobody will get hurt by a pair of incoming nuclear warheads, but that he will leave some suspense by stating that he would not reveal whose upper arm would get bruised in the process. A notable attempt to sustain metafiction throughout a whole novel is Christie Malry's Own Double Entry by B.S. Johnson, none of the characters are real and exist only within the author's imagination. Look up metafiction in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Henry Fielding (April 22, 1707 – October 8, 1754) was an English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humor and satirical prowess and as the author of the novel Tom Jones. ... Sir James Matthew Barrie, Baronet, Scottish author Sir James Matthew Barrie, Baronet (May 9, 1860 - June 19, 1937), more commonly known as J. M. Barrie, was a Scottish novelist and dramatist. ... This article is about the play by J.M. Barrie. ... Daniel Handler (born February 28, 1970) is an American writer, screenwriter, and accordionist. ... A Series of Unfortunate Events is a childrens book series of thirteen novels written by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket, and illustrated by Brett Helquist. ... Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Childrens Crusade: A Duty Dance With Death is a 1969 novel by best-selling author Kurt Vonnegut. ... For the breakfast cereal, see Wheaties. ... For the string game, see Cats cradle. ... Sophies World (Sofies verden in the original Norwegian) is a novel by Jostein Gaarder, published in 1991. ... Jostein Gaarder (born August 8, 1952 in Oslo) is a Norwegian intellectual and author of several novels, short stories and childrens books. ... The cover of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, from a late 1990s US printing. ... Christie Malrys Own Double-Entry is a novel by the late British avant-garde novelist B. S. Johnson. ... B. S. Johnson (1933 - 1973) was an English experimental novelist and film-maker. ...


Usage controversy

There is considerable argument on the usage of the word "irony". Authority, in the form of dictionaries and usage guides, can be cited on both sides.


Descriptivists generally discount such self-proclaimed language authorities in favor of studying how individuals currently use the word. In linguistics, prescription is the laying down or prescribing of normative rules for the use of a language. ...


The word 'ironic' is sometimes used incorrectly as a synonym for incongruous or coincidental in situations where there is no “double audience,” and no contradiction between the ostensible and true meaning of the words. An example of such usage:

Ironically, Sir Arthur Sullivan is remembered for the comic operas he found embarrassing, rather than the serious works he hoped would be his legacy. Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan (May 13, 1842 – November 22, 1900) was an English composer best known for his operatic collaborations with librettist W. S. Gilbert. ...

The American Heritage Dictionary’s usage panel found it unacceptable to use the word ironic to describe mere unfortunate coincidences or surprising disappointments that “suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly.” This definition still allows the above usage but excludes examples like Alanis Morissette’s “It's a traffic jam when you're already late” in her song “Ironic”. Alanis Nadine Morissette (born June 1, 1974) is a Canadian-born singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. ... Alanis Morissette European singles chronology Ironic is a song written by Alanis Morissette and Glen Ballard, and produced by Ballard for Morissettes third album Jagged Little Pill (1995). ...


The American Heritage Dictionary recognizes a secondary meaning for irony: “incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.” This sense, however, is not synonymous with "incongruous" but merely a definition of dramatic or situational irony. The word incongruity is not in the active vocabulary for most speakers of the English language, irony being much more widespread among those wanting to be precise in their language. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (AHD) is a dictionary of American English published by Boston publisher Houghton-Mifflin, the first edition of which appeared in 1969. ... The vocabulary of a person is defined either as the set of all words that are understood by that person or the set of all words likely to be used by that person when constructing new sentences. ...


Other historical prescriptivists have even stricter definitions for the word irony. Henry Watson Fowler, in The King's English, says “any definition of irony—though hundreds might be given, and very few of them would be accepted—must include this, that the surface meaning and the underlying meaning of what is said are not the same.” Fowler would thus consider the Sullivan example above as incorrect usage. In linguistics, prescription is the laying down or prescribing of normative rules for the use of a language. ... Henry Watson Fowler (10 March 1858 – 26 December 1933) was an English schoolmaster, lexicographer and commentator on the usage of English. ...


This controversy is parodied in the Futurama episode "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", in which Bender repeatedly corrects people who use the term ironic incorrectly. This article is about the television series. ... The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings is the eighteenth and final episode in season four of the TV series Futurama. ... Bender, full name Bender Bending Rodríguez or designated Bending Unit 22, is a fictional robot character in the animated television series Futurama. ...


Cultural variation

Irony often requires a cultural backdrop to be understood or noticed, and as with any culture-specific idiom, irony often cannot be perfectly transplanted. An expression with a secondary meaning clear to an east-coast American may be obscure to a Canadian, Briton, Australian, or even a west-coast American, though they all speak the same language. Attempting a literal translation of an ironic idiom to another language often renders the concept muddled or incoherent. Further, the use of verbal irony may also rely on non-literal cues such as tone of voice or posture. Every culture incorporates its own form of linguistic metaphor, idiom and subtlety. In such cases, translation requires extra care of irony, and perhaps explanation.[citations needed]


Notes

  1. ^ Sarcasm Society: Socratic Irony
  2. ^ Hutcheon, p. 13
  3. ^ New York Times, December 3, 2007, Page B1: It Dawned on Adults After WW II: 'You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!
  4. ^ http://www.civilwarinteractive.com/forums/view_topic.php?id=294&forum_id=1
  5. ^ Dead Presidents: Causes of Death
  6. ^ Guardian Online: The Final Irony
  7. ^ Reference: Season 4 Cycle 1—SCTV Network / 90 Show 2, Polynesiantown.

Second City Television (SCTV) was a Canadian television sketch comedy show offshoot from Torontos The Second City troupe that ran between 1976 and 1984. ...

Bibliography

  • Star, William T. "Irony and Satire: A Bibliography." Irony and Satire in French Literature. Ed. University of South Carolina Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina College of Humanities and Social Sciences, 1987. 183-209.
  • Bogel, Fredric V. "Irony, Inference, and Critical Understanding." Yale Review ): 503-19.
  • Colebrook, Claire. Irony. London and New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Hutcheon, Linda. Irony’s Edge: The Theory and Politics of Irony. London: Routledge, 1994.
  • for review of Socratic irony see Kieran Egan The educated mind : how cognitive tools shape our understanding. (1997) University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ISBN p. 137-144
  • Lavandier, Yves. Writing Drama, pages 263-315.

Kieran Egan, (born 1942) has written on issues in education and child development, with an emphasis on the uses of imagination and the intellectual stages (Egan calls them understandings) that mark different ages from birth to adulthood. ... The Educated Mind : How Cognitive Tools Shape Our Understanding is a 1997 book on educational theory by Kieran Egan. ... Writing Drama (French: La dramaturgie) is a treatise by French writer and filmmaker Yves Lavandier, originally published in 1994, revised in 1997 and 2004. ...

External links

Look up irony in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ... For other uses, see Guardian. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Definition of irony - Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (34 words)
Learn more about "irony" and related topics at Britannica.com
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The final irony | Weekend | Guardian Unlimited (2574 words)
Irony is a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.
Irony is used as a synonym for cool, for cynicism, for detachment, for intelligence; it's cited as the end of civilisation, as well as its salvation.
The sixth is that irony and cynicism are interchangeable.
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