ironic

adjective
iron·​ic | \ ˌī-ˈrä-nik also i-ˈrä- How to pronounce ironic (audio) \
variants: or less commonly ironical \ ˌī-​ˈrä-​ni-​kəl also  i-​ˈrä-​ How to pronounce ironical (audio) \

Definition of ironic

1 : relating to, containing, or constituting irony an ironic remark an ironic coincidence
2 : given to irony an ironic sense of humor

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Other Words from ironic

ironicalness \ ˌī-​ˈrä-​ni-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce ironicalness (audio) also  i-​ˈrä-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for ironic

sarcastic, satiric, ironic, sardonic mean marked by bitterness and a power or will to cut or sting. sarcastic implies an intentional inflicting of pain by deriding, taunting, or ridiculing. a critic known for his sarcastic remarks satiric implies that the intent of the ridiculing is censure and reprobation. a satiric look at contemporary society ironic implies an attempt to be amusing or provocative by saying usually the opposite of what is meant. made the ironic observation that the government could always be trusted sardonic implies scorn, mockery, or derision that is manifested by either verbal or facial expression. surveyed the scene with a sardonic smile

What's irony?

Considerable thought is given to what events constitute “true” irony, and the dictionary is often called upon to supply an answer. Here are the facts about how the word irony is used.

Irony has two formal uses that are not as common in general prose as its more casual uses. One refers to Socratic irony—a method of revealing an opponent’s ignorance by pretending to be ignorant yourself and asking probing questions. The other refers to dramatic irony or tragic irony—an incongruity between the situation in a drama and the words used by the characters that only the audience can see. Socratic irony is a tool used in debating; dramatic irony is what happens when the audience realizes that Romeo and Juliet’s plans will go awry.

The third, and debated, use of irony regards what’s called situational irony. Situational irony involves a striking reversal of what is expected or intended: a person sidesteps a pothole to avoid injury and in doing so steps into another pothole and injures themselves. Critics claim the word irony and ironic as they are generally used (as in, “Isn’t it ironic that you called just as I was planning to call you?”) can only apply to situational irony, and uses like the one above are more properly called coincidence.

The historical record shows that irony and ironic have been used imprecisely for almost 100 years at least, and often to refer to coincidence. This 1939 quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald is typical: "It is an ironic thought that the last picture job I took—against my better judgment—yielded me five thousand dollars five hundred and cost over four thousand in medical attention." Is this true situational irony? It’s debatable.

The word irony has come to be applied to events that are merely curious or coincidental, and while some feel this is an incorrect use of the word, it is merely a new one.

Examples of ironic in a Sentence

She has an ironic sense of humor. It's ironic that computers break down so often, since they're meant to save people time. It is ironic that the robber's car crashed into a police station.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Since last week, that step has seemed particularly ironic. Melody Schreiber, The New Republic, "The Growing Toll of the Global Gag Rule," 3 July 2019 But his latest post seems rather ironic, given that the drama that essentially took down the Celtics this season seemed to center around Irving’s ego. Troy L. Smith, cleveland.com, "Kyrie Irving finds new way to annoy Boston Celtics fans," 24 June 2019 Ivanka Trump has become an ironic internet Carmen Sandiego. Emma Grey Ellis, WIRED, "The Meaning Behind the #UnwantedIvanka Meme," 2 July 2019 The name is ironic: SadInSF’s five members — all recent graduates of Carlmont High in Belmont -— live about 20 miles south of San Francisco and their sound is anything but sad. Kimberly Mitchell, The Mercury News, "SadInSF members channel emotion, friendship through music; Collaboration of Carlmont High grads recently played Palo Alto festival," 23 June 2019 The costume was ironic, of course, but the footage Smith found showing her whirling about as part of an entranced Hare Krishna procession, suggests something else. J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books, "Barbara Rubin, Shameless Angel of Avant-Garde Cinema," 21 May 2019 The name is an ironic reminder that all of Chatman’s photographs are devoid of people. Mike Giuliano, baltimoresun.com, "Diverse photographic landscapes at Howard Community College," 20 June 2019 Quite the opposite; Bob-Waksberg manages to balance his ironic humor with a deep sincerity that continues to surprise and delight. Ilana Masad, Washington Post, "‘Bojack Horseman’ creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg expands his funny, melancholy empire," 14 June 2019 In another ironic twist, June had been pushing for the Waterfords to make up for a while now. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "The Handmaid's Tale Season 3, Episode 5 Recap: A Seat At The Table," 12 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ironic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ironic

1576, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for ironic

Last Updated

22 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for ironic

The first known use of ironic was in 1576

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More Definitions for ironic

ironic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ironic

: using words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to be funny
: strange or funny because something (such as a situation) is different from what you expected

ironic

adjective
iron·​ic | \ ī-ˈrä-nik How to pronounce ironic (audio) \
variants: also ironical \ -​ni-​kəl \

Kids Definition of ironic

: relating to, containing, or showing irony It was ironic that the robber's car crashed into the police station.

Other Words from ironic

ironically \ -​i-​kə-​lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on ironic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ironic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ironic

Spanish Central: Translation of ironic

Nglish: Translation of ironic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ironic for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ironic

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