sarcasm

noun
sar·​casm | \ ˈsär-ˌka-zəm How to pronounce sarcasm (audio) \

Definition of sarcasm

1 : a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain
2a : a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual
b : the use or language of sarcasm

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Choose the Right Synonym for sarcasm

wit, humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee mean a mode of expression intended to arouse amusement. wit suggests the power to evoke laughter by remarks showing verbal felicity or ingenuity and swift perception especially of the incongruous. a playful wit humor implies an ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, and the absurd in human life and to express these usually without bitterness. a sense of humor irony applies to a manner of expression in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is seemingly expressed. the irony of the title sarcasm applies to expression frequently in the form of irony that is intended to cut or wound. given to heartless sarcasm satire applies to writing that exposes or ridicules conduct, doctrines, or institutions either by direct criticism or more often through irony, parody, or caricature. a satire on the Congress repartee implies the power of answering quickly, pointedly, or wittily. a dinner guest noted for repartee

Frequently Asked Questions About sarcasm

Is sarcasm the same as irony?

Sarcasm refers to the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say, especially in order to insult someone, or to show irritation, or just to be funny. For example, saying "they're really on top of things" to describe a group of people who are very disorganized is using sarcasm. Most often, sarcasm is biting, and intended to cause pain. Irony can also refer to the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say; the "they're really on top of things" statement about the very disorganized group of people can also be described as an ironic statement. But irony can also refer to a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected; for example, it is ironic if someone who was raised by professional musicians but who wanted a very different kind of life then fell in love with and married a professional musician.

What is the plural of sarcasm?

Sarcasm is what we refer to as a noncount noun ("a noun that denotes a homogeneous substance or a concept without subdivisions and that in English is preceded in indefinite singular constructions by some rather than a or an"), and has no plural form.

What are some synonyms for sarcasm?

Sarcasm shares some semantic territory with a number of other English words, including wit, repartee, and humor. While most of these are in some way concerned with inducing laughter, sarcasm stands alone in denoting caustic language that is designed to cut or give pain.

Examples of sarcasm in a Sentence

"That was my favorite show yet this tour," Banks says. "I love audiences that are ambivalent." For a second, I think he's laying on the sarcasm, until he continues. "I really like the chance to win people over." — David Peisner, Spin, August 2007 "The best part of being single," Bryce Donovan jokes, "is being able to choose any woman I want to shoot me down." Such self-deprecating sarcasm is the trademark of this newsman's four-year-old weekly column "It Beats Working" in the Charleston Post and Courier. People, 26 June 2006 "But see," I say … "in my line of work I'm supposed to dress in a way that makes clients feel sorry for me, or better yet superior to me. I think I accomplish that pretty well." Paul looks over at me again with a distasteful look that might be ready to slide into sarcasm, only he doesn't know if I'm making fun of him. He says nothing. — Richard Ford, Independence Day, (1995) 1996 a voice full of sarcasm I know you're not happy, but there's no need to resort to petty sarcasms to make your point.
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Recent Examples on the Web The re-opening has also brought out that other English trait: morbid sarcasm. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "‘Super Saturday’ marks the reopening of English pubs. Just don’t sing, chant, or speak too loudly, by orders of the government," 3 July 2020 All of this is laced with the distinct humor and winking sarcasm of the character’s voices. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Hot Stuff: June romances embrace the inherent sexiness of faking it," 30 June 2020 Notaro’s dry sarcasm and minimalist style is a welcome reprieve from the slew of stand-up comedians who think bigger is better. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "The Best Female Stand-Up Comedian Specials to Watch Right Now," 11 June 2020 Like other late-night hosts, Oliver walks a fine and sometimes shaky line between commenting on real-life tragedy and going for moments of humor, or at least sarcasm. oregonlive, "‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’ singles out Oregon as example of vote-by-mail success," 1 June 2020 Her attempts to ignore the issue, to criticize reporters for covering it, to dismiss it with sarcasm didn't succeed. Susan Page, USA TODAY, "Analysis: Biden's denial was unequivocal. That doesn't mean he's put this issue to rest.," 12 Mar. 2020 On Douban, a liberal Chinese social networking service that focuses on film, music and books, users resorted to sarcasm and puns to voice opposition to the change in Fudan’s charter. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, "In Xi Jinping’s China, a top university can no longer promise freedom of thought," 18 Dec. 2019 It’s no surprise at all that the Suburgatory star is able to use her trademark sarcasm to cut through occasional treacle. Daniel Fienberg, Billboard, "'Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist': TV Review," 8 Jan. 2020 Penn cut off the screenshot of the post to hide comments that referred to it as sarcasm. A. G. Hamilton, National Review, "Bloomberg Law Owes Readers an Explanation of Its Attempt to Smear Leif Olson," 4 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sarcasm.' 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 sarcasm

1619, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sarcasm

earlier sarcasmus, borrowed from Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French sarcasme, borrowed from Late Latin sarcasmos "mockery," borrowed from Late Greek sarkasmós, from Greek sarkázein "to jeer at while biting the lips" (in galen; perhaps, if the original sense was "to bite or strip off flesh," derivative of sark-, sárx "flesh") + -smos, suffix of verbal action — more at sarco-

Note: The original sense of the Greek verb sarkázein is conjectural, as all instances referring to jeering or mockery come from late or post-classical sources, generally lexica. The sole significant early uses are in Aristophanes' play Peace, where the Megarians, while pulling boulders from the entrance to a cave, are described as performing the action of the verb sarkázein "like mean (?) curs," while perishing from hunger ("hoi Megarês… hélkousin d' hómōs glischrótata sarkázontes hṓsper kynídia"); and in the Hippocratic treatise "On Joints" (Perì Arthrôn), where the verb is used to describe hoofed animals eating grass. In both cases the interpretation of sarkázein is far from transparent.

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Time Traveler for sarcasm

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The first known use of sarcasm was in 1619

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Last Updated

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sarcasm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sarcasm. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for sarcasm

sarcasm

noun
How to pronounce sarcasm (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sarcasm

: the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny

sarcasm

noun
sar·​casm | \ ˈsär-ˌka-zəm How to pronounce sarcasm (audio) \

Kids Definition of sarcasm

: the use of words that normally mean one thing to mean just the opposite usually to hurt someone's feelings or show scorn

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Comments on sarcasm

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