What does irony mean?

Definitions for irony
ˈaɪ rə ni, ˈaɪ ər-irony

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word irony.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. sarcasm, irony, satire, caustic remarknoun

    witty language used to convey insults or scorn

    "he used sarcasm to upset his opponent"; "irony is wasted on the stupid"; "Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own"--Jonathan Swift

  2. ironynoun

    incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs

    "the irony of Ireland's copying the nation she most hated"

  3. ironynoun

    a trope that involves incongruity between what is expected and what occurs


  1. ironyadjective

    Of or pertaining to the metal iron.

    The food had an irony taste to it.

  2. Etymology: First attested in 1502. From ironia (perhaps via ironie), from εἰρωνεία, from εἴρων.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Ironyadjective

    Made of iron; partaking of iron.

    Etymology: from iron.

    The force they are under is real, and that of their fate but imaginary: it is not strange if the irony chains have more solidity than the contemplative. Henry Hammond, Fundamentals.

    Some springs of Hungary, highly impregnated with vitriolick salts, dissolve the body of one metal, suppose iron, put into the spring; and deposite, in lieu of the irony particles carried off, coppery particles. John Woodward, on Fossils.

  2. IRONYnoun

    A mode of speech in which the meaning is contrary to the words: as, Bolingbroke was a holy man.

    Etymology: ironie, Fr. ἰεϱωνεία.

    So grave a body, upon so solemn an occasion, should not deal in irony, or explain their meaning by contraries. Jonathan Swift.


  1. Irony

    Irony (from Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía 'dissimulation, feigned ignorance'), in its broadest sense, is the juxtaposition of what on the surface appears to be the case and what is actually the case or to be expected; it is an important rhetorical device and literary technique. Irony can be categorized into different types, including verbal irony, dramatic irony, and situational irony. Verbal, dramatic, and situational irony are often used for emphasis in the assertion of a truth. The ironic form of simile, used in sarcasm, and some forms of litotes can emphasize one's meaning by the deliberate use of language which states the opposite of the truth, denies the contrary of the truth, or drastically and obviously understates a factual connection.


  1. irony

    Irony is a rhetorical or literary device often used in literature, speeches, and everyday life, where the actual meaning or outcome of a situation is different, typically opposite, from the expected or literal one. This could be presented in the form of a statement, situation or event. It often involves an element of surprise, humor, or even a sense of unexpected absurdity.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Ironyadjective

    made or consisting of iron; partaking of iron; iron; as, irony chains; irony particles

  2. Ironyadjective

    resembling iron taste, hardness, or other physical property

  3. Ironynoun

    dissimulation; ignorance feigned for the purpose of confounding or provoking an antagonist

  4. Ironynoun

    a sort of humor, ridicule, or light sarcasm, which adopts a mode of speech the meaning of which is contrary to the literal sense of the words

  5. Etymology: [L. ironia, Gr. dissimulation, fr. a dissembler in speech, fr. to speak; perh. akin to E. word: cf. F. ironie.]


  1. Irony

    Irony, in its broadest sense, is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or event characterized by an incongruity, or contrast, between reality and appearance. The term may be further defined into several categories, among which are: verbal, dramatic, and situational. Verbal, dramatic, and situational irony are often used for emphasis in the assertion of a truth. The ironic form of simile, used in sarcasm, and some forms of litotes emphasize one's meaning by the deliberate use of language which states the opposite of the truth — or drastically and obviously understates a factual connection. Other forms include dialectic and practical, as identified by Thirlwall.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Irony

    ī′run-i, n. a mode of speech which enables the speaker to convey his meaning with greater force by means of a contrast between the thought which he evidently designs to express and that which his words properly signify: satire.—adj. Iron′ical, meaning the opposite of what is expressed: satirical.—adv. Iron′ically.—The irony of fate, the perverse malignity of fate. [Fr.,—L. ironia, Gr. eirōneia, dissimulation—eirōn, a dissembler—eirein, to talk.]

The Nuttall Encyclopedia

  1. Irony

    is a subtle figure of speech in which, while one thing is said, some indication serves to show that quite the opposite is meant; thus apparent praise becomes severe condemnation or ridicule; practical irony is evinced in ostensibly furthering some one's hopes and wishes while really leading him to his overthrow. Life and history are full of irony in the contrast between ambitions and their realisation.

The Roycroft Dictionary

  1. irony

    The cactus-plant that sprouts over the tomb of our dead illusions.

Suggested Resources

  1. Irony

    Irony vs. Sarcasm -- In this Grammar.com article you will learn the differences between the words Irony and Sarcasm.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'irony' in Nouns Frequency: #2984

How to pronounce irony?

How to say irony in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of irony in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of irony in Pythagorean Numerology is: 9

Examples of irony in a Sentence

  1. Jeb Bush:

    The great irony of the Obama presidency is this, someone who came to office, promising greater engagement with the world has left America less influential in the world, everywhere you look, you see the world slipping out of control.

  2. W. Somerset Maugham:

    If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will Lose its freedom and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that, too.

  3. Karen Friedman:

    It's a cruel irony that in the year we're celebrating the 40th anniversary year of ERISA, Congress is trying to reverse its most significant protections.

  4. Agnes Repplier:

    Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding.

  5. David Silberklang:

    It is a bizarre irony, in general, if you went to the infirmary in Auschwitz, if you didn't get out of there pretty quickly you were finished ... but yet at that moment in time being there meant you had a higher chance of survival.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for irony

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

Get even more translations for irony »


Find a translation for the irony definition in other languages:

Select another language:

  • - Select -
  • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
  • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
  • Español (Spanish)
  • Esperanto (Esperanto)
  • 日本語 (Japanese)
  • Português (Portuguese)
  • Deutsch (German)
  • العربية (Arabic)
  • Français (French)
  • Русский (Russian)
  • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
  • 한국어 (Korean)
  • עברית (Hebrew)
  • Gaeilge (Irish)
  • Українська (Ukrainian)
  • اردو (Urdu)
  • Magyar (Hungarian)
  • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
  • Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Italiano (Italian)
  • தமிழ் (Tamil)
  • Türkçe (Turkish)
  • తెలుగు (Telugu)
  • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
  • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
  • Čeština (Czech)
  • Polski (Polish)
  • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
  • Românește (Romanian)
  • Nederlands (Dutch)
  • Ελληνικά (Greek)
  • Latinum (Latin)
  • Svenska (Swedish)
  • Dansk (Danish)
  • Suomi (Finnish)
  • فارسی (Persian)
  • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
  • հայերեն (Armenian)
  • Norsk (Norwegian)
  • English (English)

Word of the Day

Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?

Please enter your email address:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"irony." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 22 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/irony>.

Discuss these irony definitions with the community:


    Are we missing a good definition for irony? Don't keep it to yourself...

    Image or illustration of


    Credit »

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Chrome

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Free, no signup required:

    Add to Firefox

    Get instant definitions for any word that hits you anywhere on the web!

    Browse Definitions.net


    Are you a words master?

    (of especially persons) lacking sense or understanding or judgment
    • A. soft-witted
    • B. ectomorphic
    • C. eminent
    • D. adscripted

    Nearby & related entries:

    Alternative searches for irony: