[ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-] /ˈaɪ rə ni, ˈaɪ ər-/

noun, plural ironies.
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.

an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
the incongruity of this.
an objectively sardonic style of speech or writing.
an objectively or humorously sardonic utterance, disposition, quality, etc.
noun (pl) -nies
the humorous or mildly sarcastic use of words to imply the opposite of what they normally mean
an instance of this, used to draw attention to some incongruity or irrationality
incongruity between what is expected to be and what actually is, or a situation or result showing such incongruity
See dramatic irony
(philosophy) See Socratic irony
of, resembling, or containing iron

c.1500, from Latin ironia, from Greek eironeia “dissimulation, assumed ignorance,” from eiron “dissembler,” perhaps related to eirein “to speak” (see verb). Used in Greek of affected ignorance, especially that of Socrates. For nuances of usage, see humor. Figurative use for “condition opposite to what might be expected; contradictory circumstances” is from 1640s.

“of or resembling iron,” late 14c., from iron (n.) + -y (2).

The use of words to mean something very different from what they appear on the surface to mean. Jonathan Swift uses irony in “A Modest Proposal” when he suggests the eating of babies as a solution to overpopulation and starvation in Ireland.


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