• Irony


    • RP IPA: /ˈaɪə.rən.i/
    • US IPA: /ˈaɪ.rə.ni/, /ˈaɪ.ɚ.ni/

    Origin 1

    First attested in 1502. From Middle French ironie, from Old French, from Latin īrōnīa, from Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία (eirōneia, "irony, pretext"), from εἴρων (eirōn, "one who feigns ignorance").

    Full definition of irony



    (countable and uncountable; plural ironys)
    1. A statement that, when taken in context, may actually mean something different from, or the opposite of, what is written literally; the use of words expressing something other than their literal intention, often in a humorous context.
    2. Dramatic irony: a theatrical effect in which the meaning of a situation, or some incongruity in the plot, is understood by the audience, but not by the characters in the play.
    3. Ignorance feigned for the purpose of confounding or provoking an antagonist; Socratic irony.
    4. (informal, sometimes proscribed)
    ironic, TheFreeDictionary.com, accessed 4 November 2011: The words ironic, irony, and ironically are sometimes used of events and circumstances that might better be described as simply "coincidental" or "improbable," in that they suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly. Thus 78 percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of ironically in the sentence In 1969 Susie moved from Ithaca to California where she met her husband-to-be, who, ironically, also came from upstate New York. Some Panelists noted that this particular usage might be acceptable if Susie had in fact moved to California in order to find a husband, in which case the story could be taken as exemplifying the folly of supposing that we can know what fate has in store for us. By contrast, 73 percent accepted the sentence Ironically, even as the government was fulminating against American policy, American jeans and videocassettes were the hottest items in the stalls of the market, where the incongruity can be seen as an example of human inconsistency. Contradiction between circumstances and expectations; condition contrary to what might be expected. from the 1640s

    Usage notes

    Some authorities omit the last sense, "contradiction of circumstances and expectations, condition contrary to what might be expected"

    , however it has been in common use since the 1600s.

    irony, Online Etymology Dictionary

    Related terms


    • RP IPA: /ˈaɪə.ni/
    • US IPA: /ˈaɪ.ɚ.ni/

    Origin 2



    1. Of or pertaining to the metal iron.The food had an irony taste to it.
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