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Parent categories: amusement - humour - tragedy

Related: tongue-in-cheek

Irony is best known as a figure of speech in which there is a gap or incongruity between what a speaker or a writer says, and what is understood. It can also be considered a twist of fate where an eventual event relates back to a particular quote (see poetic justice). All the different senses of irony, however, revolve around the notion of incongruity, or a gap between our understanding and what actually happens. [Jun 2006]

"Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear and shall not understand, and another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware, both of that “more” and of the outsider’s incomprehension." --Modern English Usage H. W. Fowler

Irony and sarcasm

Heavy-handed irony, in which the flat opposite of the truth is emphatically stated--perhaps with accompanying body language to deny the words--is the form of irony called sarcasm. Sarcasm is particularly employed for the purpose of ridicule, mockery or contempt, frequently taking the form of a sarcastic phrase.

An example of sarcastic speech would be a response such as "Well done" or "Great job" in an angry tone to a worker who has done something wrong. An ironic "Well done" would come when a firefighter across the street from a burning building sees a child on the window ledge and dashes across through traffic, to catch the falling child in his arms. Both the speaker and the firefighter understand that "Well done" doesn't begin to express the half of it. Their shared perception is irony.

Examples of ironic incidents might be a landlord evicted from his or her home, or an atheist killed by a falling cross -- in the first case, there is an incongruity between what happens (the person is evicted) and what is expected (the person normally rents homes to others); in the second case, there is a strong contrast between the person's beliefs and his or her actual fate. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony (2004]

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