What Is Irony? (With Examples)

what is ironyRecently I was walking and talking with my co-worker, who happens to be a freelance writer and aspiring journalist. We were talking about the fact that our employers were providing us with a Thanksgiving lunch the day after Thanksgiving, and she said, “It’s so ironic!’’ – all emphasis and drawing-out of syllables possible used on the last word.

This is a smart girl I’m talking about. She’s a college graduate and has done her fair share of writing and reporting. And even so, she doesn’t know the definition of irony.

Irony definitions

Merriam-Webster defines irony as:

1: a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other’s false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony

2: a) the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning
b) a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony
c) an ironic expression or utterance

3: a) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result; an event or result marked by such incongruity
b) incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play —called also dramatic irony, tragic irony

Here is Google’s definition for irony:

the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

A simple way of putting it is that irony usually signals a difference between the appearance of things and reality. For instance, here is how Wikipedia defines it:

Ironic statements (verbal irony) often convey a meaning exactly opposite from their literal meaning. In ironic situations (situational irony), actions often have an effect exactly opposite from what is intended.

Irony examples

Confusion is such that there is even a website, IsItIronic.com, where you can post your own question about whether or not something is ironic. Readers will cast their own vote – you can see the percentages of the votes – and the website will provide the final yes or no verdict.

Here are some examples of irony (or the lack of):

Is it ironic that I posted a video about how boring and useless Facebook is on Facebook?
Reader’s Verdict: 93% NOT IRONIC; 7% IRONIC. Final Verdict: NOT IRONIC.

Is it ironic that the name of Britain’s biggest dog (until it died recently) was Tiny?
Reader’s Verdict: 75% IRONIC; 25% NOT IRONIC. Final Verdict: IRONIC.

Is it ironic that I can’t go to church because I have a theology test to study for?
Reader’s Verdict: 95% NOT IRONIC; 5% IRONIC. Final Verdict: NOT IRONIC.

Is it ironic that someone steps into a puddle and you make fun of them… and the next thing you know – YOU step in one!?
Reader’s Verdict: 94% IRONIC; 6% NOT IRONIC. Final Verdict: IRONIC.

Has Alanis Morissette spoiled irony for us forever? Perhaps my generation is just in recovery from her 1995 lyrics. What do you think – do you understand the meaning of irony? Do people around you?

Video Recap

Irony versus Sarcasm

Sarcasm is when your words mean one thing when taken literally – but, in fact, you mean the opposite. It’s normally used when you’re annoyed about something.

For instance:

  • “Oh, great!” – when there’s a huge line at the coffee shop
  • “That’s just perfect” – when the printer jams yet again.
  • “Lovely weather today” – when it’s pouring with rain.

Some people would describe these as forms of verbal irony (because they say the opposite to the intended meaning) – but it’s important to recognize that they’re not examples of an ironic situation. It isn’t “ironic” that there’s a line at the coffee shop … just unfortunate.

Sarcasm also normally involves mocking or even attacking someone – or at least expressing irritation. Irony tends to come into play more often in literary ways, to make people laugh, or to heighten the drama of a situation.

Irony versus Unfortunate

While a situation that’s ironic often is unfortunate, these words definitely aren’t synonyms. An ironic situation is one where an attempt to cause a desired outcome actually results in an undesired outcome, or one where something happens that’s opposite to what you’d expect.

For instance:

  • If you’re late for work because you lost your keys yet again, that’s unfortunate. (But not ironic.)
  • If you’re late for work because, in an attempt to be on time, you put your keys somewhere safe and then forgot where they were, that’s ironic. (And also unfortunate.)
  • If the printer jams at work when you’re in a big rush, that’s unfortunate. (But not ironic – unless your rushing caused the jam.)
  • If the printer jams at work and you discover it’s because of the “fix” that your colleague performed to stop it from jamming, that’s ironic. (And unfortunate.)
  • If your friend calls round to see you with an important package, but you’re out for the first time that week, that’s unfortunate. (But not ironic.)
  • If your friend calls round to see you, but you’re out because you’re driving to their house to retrieve your package, that’s ironic.

Irony versus Paradox

A paradox occurs when something can’t logically work: it contradicts itself.

For instance, the statement “I am lying right now” is a paradox – either the speaker is lying (and so the statement is true … meaning they’re not lying) or they aren’t lying (but they can’t be telling the truth, either…)

Another example is the “grandfather paradox” in time travel – if you go back and kill your grandfather, you’ll never have existed … but then no-one would have killed your grandfather, so you must have existed … and so on.

Ironic situations aren’t paradoxes. They’re perfectly possible – though they might be unlikely.

Irony Quiz

For each sentence, decide whether the situation being described is ironic or not.

  • 1. I spent so much time on Twitter, I was late for class.

    Not ironic
  • 2. I washed my car this morning, then it rained.

    Not ironic

  • 3. I took a different route to work to speed up my commute … only to end up in a huge traffic jam that made my commute take much longer.

    Not ironic
  • 4. I opened a window to try to cool the room down, but it was so hot outside that it warmed the room up instead.

    Not ironic

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207 thoughts on “What Is Irony? (With Examples)”

  1. @ApK: OK, you put a smile on my face 🙂 Perhaps ironic is that Anton used “House” as an example of masterclass of sarcasm…seeing as how Hugh Laurie is British. So obviously he perfected his act on the other side of the pond. Another poster (way up) made reference to Monty Python, and for whatever reason I neglected to address that in any of my previous posts. That was hands down the funniest show I’ve ever seen in my life, I saw them live when they were here, I own the videos…and I can recite the “Dead Parrot” skit almost word for word LOL. Ah, those blokes could deadpan like nobody’s business. I miss them!

    BTW, @Gareth Bourne (posted Jan 30), if you equate irony with poetic justice, I totally get it. I can live with that definition, works for me.

  2. Is it ironic that I looked up “irony” to gain a better understanding of it and ended up even more confused?

  3. Kathy what a wonderful epitaph for this elusive definition that should be ironically so clear and easy to understand. I believe?

    It reminds me what my Grandma once quietly told me. “Most people see the dictionary as a book. My son, rather know it as the door to the endless possibilities of universes….Then in turn, you will see its key”

    I liked talking to Grandma

  4. Ok I did not read all 50 responses… please don’t hate me

    But it IS ironic that Alanis wrote a song about irony with examples that were not irony……

    am i correct ?

  5. Wow! I must confess that I spend so much energy fighting misuse of begging the question that this one usually goes by me. I think part of the problem, as shown here by the length and indeterminateness of the posts is at least 2 things. 1) the meaning of irony has been fungible for a long time, and is maybe used differently by different “areas”. Many of the examples given of specific “types” like tragic irony, dramatic irony, Socratic irony etc. are not only distinct, but are not what I would think of as irony at all in a “general” sense, rather than misfortune, double-entendre, or sarcasm. And yes, there seems to be a confusion or confounding of meaning between irony and sarcasm. 2) The dictionary definitions aren’t very helpful, for a variety of reasons, many related to number 1.

    I haven’t really investigated this, so my position is nebulous. When I think of irony, trying to be careful in usage, I usually think of something that not only produces on unintended effect, but one that is specifically related to or the opposite of the intended one. So there is a kind of recursive relationship. E.g., “I put the keys in my pocket so I wouldn’t lose them. But my pocket had a hole in it.” I would think “irony” because what I in fact did —lose the keys—was a direct result of my attempt not to do that very thing. “I commented on the nice day and then it started raining” would not be ironic at all. My comment didn’t cause it to rain. “Bob lost all his valuables when his safe was stolen”. That would seem ironic to me, because putting something in a safe at least implies that getting it stolen is something you are trying to avoid. “He had a heart attack jogging to the health food store”. Double irony?

    The Hamlet example, then, would not really be ironic, just coincidental and sad. He didn’t think he was protecting his victim. However, I understand that it is an example of “tragic irony” as the term is used in literature studies. Missing church for a theology test wouldn’t be strictly ironic by my definition, I guess, but close by association, like “I was too sick to keep my doctor’s appointment”. Don’t know what to call that…

    Heller came up with the term Catch 22 to cover a specific juxtaposition that there didn’t seem to be any other term for. Maybe more terms are needed in this arena?

  6. Garrison wrote: “In no way is irony related to or similar to sarcasm…”

    Sorry, but words used to express something other than their literal intention is irony.

  7. ugh, this whole debate makes my head hurt. i’ve read an entire book that has tons of irony, this post, and a bunch of responses, but i don’t see the whole “no irony” in any of the mentions. is it because they’re all ironic examples or no? someone please help!

  8. @venqax I think you’re right. The causal/ intentional aspect seems important. In your example, the person’s putting her keys in her pocket might be truly described in various ways, including “she lost her keys”. But her action isn’t intentional under that description; indeed, she exactly intended *not* to lose her keys. Yet, by that very action, she in fact lost them.

  9. Okay, so perhaps a central usage of “irony” requires that two conditions be satisfied:

    (1) The action said to be ironic isn’t intentional under the description that makes it ironic; and
    (2) The description that makes the action ironic is somehow opposite to the description under which that action is, in fact, intentional.

    E.g., A person puts her keys in her pocket, and thereby loses her keys due to the fact that there is a hole in her pocket. So this person does something that can be truly described in at least two ways: (a) “she put her keys in her pocket (to avoid losing them)”, and (b) “she lost her keys”. But only one of these is a true description of her intentional action, i.e., (a) “she put her keys in her pocket (to avoid losing them)”. After all, that’s what she intended to do. So condition (1) is satisfied: the action said to be ironic isn’t intentional under the description that makes it ironic. Meanwhile, condition (2) is also satisfied, since the description that makes the action ironic is somehow opposite to the description under which the action is, in fact, intentional. After all, by doing exactly what she did, she lost her keys. And that’s exactly what she was trying *not* to do.

  10. I recently had a long conversation with friends about the concept/definition of irony and we came up with something along these lines:
    “Irony is when the purpose of an object/person/thing is the opposite of the situation it is put in and/or causes.”

    Now I know this is probably full of holes but I think it covers the (perhaps incorrect) most common use of irony.

    This is it put into practice with a common example:

    Purpose of ambulance- to prevent death
    Opposite of preventing death- causing death
    Therefore, if a person was hit by an ambulance this would be ironic (?)

    Could somebody verify this or explain where I am wrong 😛

  11. I think it’s ironic that an article about irony doesn’t have its own ironic twist. But then – giving the topic a straight explanation is by itself a form of irony. But if the lack of irony in the article is in fact its own irony, then will making it intentionally ironic make it any less ironic?


  12. Iwan, I think you are correct here – putting up a safety feature only for it to cause harm, playing it safe only for the safe option to go more awry etc. all add to irony.

    The Alanis Morisette problems can help. They are all just annoyances. (a better name for the song maybe :))
    There is no irony in it raining on your wedding day unless (thanks Ed Byrne) you are marrying a weather man and he chose the day – even more so if he studied it carefully and picked the only rainy day in a beautiful month.
    It has to do with unlikelihoods in which the forseen consequence of a choice actually have the opposite effect in a humerous way.

    The chuch/theology exam example would be ironic if, say, the person had previously claimed smugly that ‘if you do your duty to God by praising Him at church he will always look after you’ and then received the news that her Theology exam was on the same day as a church service.

    It ties in with karma quite nicely. To claim that people who are disbled must have done something awful in their life to deserve such punishment and then be crippled yourself is ironic – as to utter the statement can be seen as a terrible thing to do if you take a different outlook to the way fate and luck are dealt out.

    Not being able to define it in strict terms makes it all the more pleasant..there are some things that when we see them, even though we cannot easliy define the term (such as the weatherman example) we would nearly all be able to say…that is definitely ironic. I like that about it…it shows a holistic understanding of language use.

  13. I remember reading one definition of irony that stuck with me as perhaps the best. I think it might was Fowler’s (for those that know the name). What’s great about this conception of irony is that it is simple and provides a unifying theme for all three of Merriam-Webster’s definitions (in the article above). I am of course paraphrasing what Fowler said below.

    Irony can be understood by imagining first that there are two audiences. In an ironic situation, something is said (or happens) whose significance is understood differently by each audience. The first audience is ignorant, and can only appreciate the event on superficial or literal grounds. Irony arises by assuming a second audience that is “in the know”, which understands the deeper significance of the event.

    The link to “dramatic irony” is rather obvious here. Typically, the characters in the play represent the first audience and those watching the play are the second.

    “Socratic irony” follows the same principle. Socrates’ way of taking on a pretense of ignorance to expose weaknesses in his opponents’ arguments was a strategy his opponents were often ignorant of, but something his students, who were presumably also in the room, knew well. Here the students represent the second audience, watching their master lure his opponents into a trap.

    Webster’s second definition: “the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning” follows along similar lines. Sometimes only the person speaking is in this second audience. Hopefully others in the room will catch on to what is being said though, otherwise the irony is merely for the speaker’s enjoyment.

    Finally, there is the “irony of the Fates”. I seem to remember Fowler expressing skepticism as to whether this is indeed irony, but this covers the “stepping in a puddle” example and those like it. Here, one must imagine the Fates as the second audience (the Fates know the destiny of each man). You don’t know that you will step in the puddle when you make fun of the first guy (making you the first audience). The Fates are watching, meanwhile, and they know you will eventually step in the same puddle yourself. Fowler’s skepticism might be warranted if you buy into the idea that “irony” only comes about when the second audience is present. Since the Fates are not real, the associated irony is not real either. What is perhaps a better term for our puddle incident is “poetic justice” rather than “irony”.

  14. A more concise definition of the one I gave above:

    IRONY is found where there are two audiences watching a situation unfold: one is “ignorant”, only seeing the superficial; the other is “in the know” and appreciates a deeper significance.

    You can look at the rest of my explanation above to see how this definition gets fleshed out in various circumstances we know as irony.

  15. To understand irony (I’d argue it is impossible to define) you need to return to Socrates. Prior to Socratic irony, irony was simply ‘sham humility’, pretending to be less than you were in order to achieve an advantage over your opponent. It was generally a term of abuse.

    However, once Socrates used irony to challenge the subjective arguments of the Sophists, it became a form of sophisticated thought and rhetoric, usages that solidified during the Roman Empire. The key question is whether Socrates knew the ‘absolute truth’ and was using irony to guide others towards it or was ‘absolutely just’ and employed irony to ensure that all men were treated most justly.

    The former definition places irony as a constructive tool, linking it to objective, rationalist, empirical thought. If a knowledge claim can be made absurd through the use of irony, then it cannot be absolute truth and the journey of discovery must continue. In real terms, this form of irony is employed to undermine a knowledge claim from a competing perspective (as in the two audiences example). Whereas Socrates perspective was one of ‘ignorance’, the more common perspective is of a competing knowledge claim, from which one ironically undermines the opposing claim.

    In these situations, one audience is always more powerful than the other. The powerful audience claims to know the truth, whereas the less powerful undermines it, employing ironic speech to do so when in the presence of the first. If the powerful audience is indirectly lead into recognising their position is partial not absolute and thereby changing it to accommodate the other, then the irony is effective. Until then, ironic speech is a required communicative device for the less powerful audience and irony the only possible stance against powerful truth claims.

    The second definition places irony as an ethical position, suggesting all knowledge claims can be undermined and that only through seeing an issue from the multiple perspectives that irony opens up can a human being be treated justly. In this sense, there is nothing but irony as no truth can ever escape subjectivity and irony is thus the most ethical stance to pursue. However, this opes up all kinds of problems regarding nihilism and despair (irony offers nothing of any meaning to take the place of anything it undermines).

    There are two major schools of thought surrounding these issues, which can be loosely described as American and Germanic. The American school is pragmatic and looks at how irony in action builds discursive communities (a specific way of understanding the world) and excluded victims (those it undermines). The Germanic School grapples with the constructive/destructive nature of irony (is it a tool of knowledge/truth or a nihilistic position that undermines everything?).

    Verbal irony is a method of illustrating these positions in everyday speech. For example, it is a standard belief in the Western world that ‘sunny weather is good’. A dripping wet man walking into a room saying ‘great weather we are having’ is thus speaking ironically. His ironic speech also draws attention to his wetness and his having expected one thing but experienced another, the imperfect human condition. However, sunny weather is not always good. A South Australian farmer walking into a room of colleagues in mid-summer in the same condition is likely to be speaking literally, as the rain is going to be vital for good crop production.

    Even such a banal statement illustrates the complexity of irony. It challenges the belief that ‘sunny weather = good weather’, adheres a farmer to his discursive community (and detaches him from the beach goers in the same state, who want that sun) and references the imperfect human condition (had the man known it was going to rain, he’d have brought his umbrella) which illustrates dramatic irony.

    If the man had been observed leaving his house without an umbrella by a working meteorologist, he would have known the man was going to get wet (the knowing audience of the situation). However, the man (the unknowing audience and the victim of this hypothetically observed dramatic irony) looks up to the sky and sees only blue, thereby predicting he will have a pleasant walk and deciding not to take his umbrella, even though the hypothetical observer knows it will be otherwise. If he then catches pneumonia and dies, then the irony is truly tragic (see Oedipus Rex for a much better example, when the audience knows he is unknowingly condemning himself when cursing the man who killed his father).

    The ‘observer’ of dramatic irony is often ‘God’ (the knowing audience must be elevated, seeing more than the unknowing, so ‘God’ is the perfect example). The Bible is another excellent example of dramatic irony, with its characters moved hither and thither by God’s will, with only the knowing reader understanding why it is happening.

    The example of the Facebook video is an excellent example of how irony can result in nihilistic despair. In order to illustrate how a concept is boring and useless, one is forced to illustrate it through its own form, thereby making it interesting and useful, or by doing it so boringly and uselessly that nobody takes the critique seriously.

    The dog example is ironic but banal, a simple usage of ironic speech. The church example would only be ironic if the preacher’s sermon provided more help for the theology essay than the study did. The puddle example can be seen as cosmic/dramatic irony if it is being observed by a second, elevated audience (i.e. if we were watching it happen and predicted it, then it would be ironic, especially so if the fun-maker got wetter than his friend, or, if the friend could see that the fun-maker was stepping backwards into a bigger puddle as he was laughing). As Mike made explicit, if you believe in an omnipresent God, then it would always be ironic.

    Sarcasm is simply an ironic speech act with an intent to wound.

  16. My 9 y/o asked me what ironic meant. I told him I really do not know. He looked up the word and gave up. I too never use the word. I really would like to know the proper definition. Sorry, guest author, but I’m still confused.

  17. Okay, is it just me, or is it ironic that on a website devoted to people who wish to use the English language properly…not ONE person noticed or commented on the fact that Lawrence failed to use the proper spelling for ‘role’?

    Hie thee to a dictionary, Lawrence. ‘Roll’ is incorrect. I realize we’re covering irony and not homonyms (or homophones) but you could at least get THAT simple word correct.

    The rest of your rant wasn’t worth commenting upon, however.

  18. The best explanation I ever heard was in senior English:

    “If a man is hit by a truck and dies, it’s a tragedy.
    If a diabetic man is hit by a truck carrying sugar and dies, it’s a darkly humorous coincidence.
    If a diabetic man is hit by a truck carrying insulin and dies, it’s ironic [i.e. insulin should save this man’s life but was in reality the cause of his death].”

  19. @ Elizabeth

    Not ironic at all.

    a) I’m sure other people noticed that as well but didn’t bother to point it out

    b) You can’t generalize and say every one is coming here to use the English language properly. The majority is coming here to learn about irony.

  20. When thinking of irony, I’m reminded of the scene in _Dr. Strangelove_ where General Turgidson and the Russian ambassador start to scuffle, and President Muffley admonishes them by saying, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!” 🙂

  21. @Rocker

    Agreed 100%.

    “Uploading video onto FB about how boring and useless FB is: not ironic unless… the video itself is useless and boring.”

    “Stepping in puddle after mocking others: definitely not ironic, just coincidence. A lot of people confuse irony with coincidence.”


  22. All of the examples of irony were in fact irony.

    more examples: Ironic humor: Take my wife. Please!

    Got a new car fror my wife the other day. Best trade i ever made!

    I missed the Hamlet discussion but here is another Shakespeare: Tragic irony:

    ‘Til Burnham Wood doth come to Dunsinane” The trees actually do come.

    The ironic twist at the end of a short story is the heart of the short story genre. For example, the ending of “The Gift of the Magi”

    In some of the cases discussed, I believe the irony has to do with the intent of the writer.

  23. Okay, let me put an ironic phrase that i think everyone will understand. (this is not really my life, just an example) My dad is a 5th generation soldier…I am a pacifist, or maybe this, You give money to a hobo and tell him to go buy all the beer he wants, and he comes back with BurgerKing. Irony is not sarcasm no matter how closely related they are. Sarcasm is generally being rude, irony is something that no one expects to happen, like growing up in a family of soldiers and becoming a pacifist, or a hobo doing the exact opposite of what you intend.

    OOOO, I thought of another one…A BLACK GUY BEING ALLERGIC TO CHICKEN…(if you find this offending i am sorry, in truth i have a very high respect for black people)

  24. Let’s say some hunter goes to Africa and manages to finally kill a jaguar. Once he is home he is crossing the street on his way to a taxidermist to have the jaguar stuffed. As he is crossing the street he gets hit by a car and dies. If the car is a Jaguar, then that’s ironic. Irony deals with something that is strangely justified or strangely unjustified.

  25. Just wanted to comment someone I don’t know who, said that sarcasm is meaness disquised as humor. Therefore it is intended, whereas irony is not.

  26. Also, it is ironic that people who are afraid of being alone, as in relational often find themselves alone. Because nobody can put up with they’re clinginess. Just recently divorced my wife because she was hiding
    money from me incase things didn’t work out between us. Well, I didn’t want to be married to someone like that. How ironic is it that things didn’t wwork out?

  27. @ Tim Mears: There is a word for the examples you provided-and that word is “pun” or “double entendre”-definitely NOT Irony.

    I’m more confused than ever after reading everything.

  28. >> Hi , can you please confirm if the sentence mentioned in the beginning ” the procrastinator’s meeting has been postponed – is this an irony or not ?I think it is ….

    It would be ironic if it held exactly on time.

  29. I always thought Alanas’s song was intentionally incorrect in order to produce the “ironic” outcome of a song about irony not being ironic. I have only recently considered the possibility that she actually thought the lyrics were ironic.

    I still wouldn’t count my original thought about her song as ironic though. I do like to imagine though that she has “trolled” everyone with her song.

    Final thought; Would Socrates have made a good troll?


  30. Alanis Morrisettes song is Ironic in the fact that it’s saying exactly what it isn’t, whether that was intentional and she thought that deep into it I do not know.

  31. Another take on Jim White’s Jaguar.

    A hunter finally kills a jaguar in Africa after years of trying. He brings it home with him and is on his way to the taxidermist with the animal. He stops at a friends house for a while and in the meantime a sick Jaguar escapes from a local zoo, happens to wander down the street where his car is parked, jumps in the front seat through an open window, curls up on the seat and dies. Or….no, wait! A bear escapes too and goes to the car and takes the original jaguar to eat and then the other jaguar curls up in the seat and dies and the man takes it to the taxidermist not even realizing it’s not the one he spent all his life hunting!!!! (alright, that’s enough of that.)

    I’m of the opinion that, while there are definitely broad definitions of irony, even small variations in a story or event can quickly change it from ironic to non-ironic, or vice versa. Maybe confusion arises due to association of humor with irony. If I assume I laugh at anything ironic, and I don’t laugh at a certain thing, maybe I incorrectly assume it’s not ironic.

    There’s an episode of American Dad where Roger is on a prison-transport bus and comes up with an idea to tell jokes to make the driver laugh and go off the road. The bus falls down a hill and Roger busts out. A cop pulls up, Roger throws sand in his face and kicks the cop and then gets in his car and drives off. He gets back on the road and remembers the joke he just told, starts laughing at his own joke, and ends up going off the road and tumbling down the hill, crashing right into the same bus he just escaped from. I love stuff like that.

  32. ———————————————-
    Geetanjali asked: “Hi , can you please confirm if the sentence mentioned in the beginning ” the procrastinator’s meeting has been postponed – is this an irony or not ?I think it is ….”

    No, it isn’t irony because it’s entirely expected. There’s no dissonance between the players and the result of this situation. Think about it: at hearing the news, you’d respond, “well, that figures!”, but certainly not “Oh, how ironic!”

    A clear case of irony would be if the 2012 Summit for Anti-Procrastination was pushed back to 2013.

    Oh, how ironic!

  33. I have learn about this during my intermediate years and I find this part of english learning so very interesting. But I am not sure if I still have the right things in mind though.

    Ex. Isn’t it ironic that Francesca is afraid of closed type of place but still rides an elevator?

  34. I liked Michaels Oxford Dictionary definition best:
    Something is ironic when, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, it happens in the opposite way to what is expected, and typically causes ‘wry amusement’ as a result.

    I think that the key is opposite things happening from intent, and wry amusement. Those two together are key.

    So, for example (for those with a twisted sense of humor) one might say it was ironic that on the day he finally finished the project of filling in the old tornado shelter that was never used, a tornado came and killed him.

    I think that (this just happened to me) it’s ironic that I was not able to attend a focus group on health care because I got sick.

    I think the facebook one meets the test also. Posting something you think is relevant and will get distributed by posting on Facebook – but one was writing about Facebook being boring and useless has both tests of opposites and wry amusement.

    Not sure about the Thanksgiving one though. Perhaps irony would be something like – the corporation chose to do it’s big downsizing on the day of the Company Thanksgiving Dinner. That would be ironic (not sure how amusing, but kinda in an awful way).

    Great topic – I learned a lot – and also understand why it is complex

  35. Dear all, I am the 3d year student from philological faculty and I am writting my course paper about irony. But I need examples from newspapers, you know, articles and so on. I beg you to help me! 🙂 Please, if you find anywhere good examples of irony, write me asap))
    Thank you in advance! ^)

  36. Dear Elza,
    A good example of irony is Elza Guil, a philology student, who is “writting” her course paper on irony.

  37. If the expected result of Thanksgiving is that the dinner is held on Thanksgiving day, then the actual result of having dinner on the following day would cause incongruity. So that would make it fit definition 3.

  38. I haven’t read all the way to the end of this (endless) string of comments, so if this has already been addressed… forgive me…

    I think the definition of irony is kind of an empty shell because irony has a lot to do with perception… it’s something you grasp… as has been pointed out, children generally don’t get irony, even if you explain it to them.

    It reminds me of the difference between a simple error and a fallacy. An error is simply error, where a fallacy could fairly be called a seductive error.

    Similarly, sarcasm isn’t simply telling a falsehood, but telling a falsehood with the purpose of expressing something else.

    “What color is the sky?”

    “Purple.” (said in a snarky tone)

    What makes this sarcasm rather than simply being wrong, is that it carries the implication that the person asking the question is stupid, or at the very least unresourceful…

    Irony is irony because of it’s import, not just it’s content…

    Just my two cents…

  39. And my third cent…

    Many keep saying something to the effect of “That’s not irony, that’s sarcasm, and they are NOT the same.”

    But sarcasm does USE irony to achieve the sarcastic effect. In fact, I’m finding it difficult to think of an example of sarcasm that doesn’t use irony. One of the given definitions is, “the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning.” How does sarcasm not fit that mold?

  40. Maybe this thread is causing confusion because no one has offered other words to replace “ironic” in the examples. (some clarity came for me with the diabetic – ambulance – insulin post.)

    some suggestions (not interchangeable, I realize):
    paradoxical, peculiar, incongruous, weird, strange, humorous coincidence, funny, poetic justice, “doesn’t it just figure that,” add your own…

    Help fill in the blanks:
    Isn’t it ___________ that I can’t go to church because I have to study for my theology exam?
    It’s __________ that he posted on Facebook that postings on Facebook are useless and boring.
    She put the gift in a safe place so she didn’t lose it, then she forgot where she put it. How ___________! (OK, that never happens to me. [sarcasm].)
    How ________ that my work Thanksgiving party is the day after we get our layoff notices!

  41. Irony is a consequence derived from its own preventive efforts–your labors give birth to the very outcome you were seeking to avoid. Typically in mythology, somebody hears a prophecy in which attempts to derail only succeed in making come true. Or, for instance, arming pilots might result in putting guns into the hands of airborne jihadists- guns which they otherwise might not have acquired.

    It’s supposed to be something scarce, irony is; dull minds see no irony, mediocre minds see a lot of irony, and fine minds see a little irony in the universe.

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