sarcasm

noun
sar·casm | \ˈsär-ˌka-zəm \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

What is the Origin of sarcasm?

If you've ever been hurt by a remark full of cutting sarcasm, you have some insight into the origins of the word. "Sarcasm" can be traced back to the Greek verb sarkazein, which initially meant "to tear flesh like a dog." "Sarkazein" eventually developed extended senses of "to bite one's lips in rage," "to gnash one's teeth," and eventually "to sneer." "Sarkazein" led to the Greek noun sarkasmos, ("a sneering or hurtful remark"), iterations of which passed through French and Late Latin before arriving in English as "sarcasm" in the mid-16th century. Even today sarcasm is often described as sharp, cutting, or wounding, reminiscent of the original meaning of the Greek verb.

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The Hannity's defenders may call that sarcasm or poetic license, but words are words. Fox News, "Hannity: How we got to this point with North Korea," 9 June 2018 Goodman says PPLs can reason not only about physics and logistics, but also about how people communicate, coping with tricky forms of expression such as hyperbole, irony, and sarcasm. Matthew Hutson, Science | AAAS, "How researchers are teaching AI to learn like a child," 24 May 2018 Once again, his character's biggest superpower is his lethal sarcasm and his NSFW vocabulary, fueled by an R rating that has helped set this franchise apart from your standard PG-13 superhero fare. David Betancourt, chicagotribune.com, "'Deadpool 2' does not care about your feelings. That's what makes it work.," 16 May 2018 The Russian Foreign Ministry greeted the missile attack with its habitual sarcasm. Neil Macfarquhar, New York Times, "In Moscow, a Sense of Relief After a Limited Syria Attack," 14 Apr. 2018 European Council President Donald Tusk, a senior European Union official and former Polish prime minister who has repeatedly criticized Mr. Trump’s attitude to Europe, laced his dinner address with sarcasm. Robert Wall, WSJ, "Trump Unsettles NATO Allies With Demands as He Backs Alliance," 12 July 2018 How will her deadpan sarcasm hold up among the Hawaiian shirt set? Doug Maccash, NOLA.com, "7 shows not to miss at Jazz Fest 2018, Saturday (May 5)," 5 May 2018 This deflection came to inform Preaker’s character, who uses a lethal combination of flirtation and sarcasm—and long sleeve clothing—to hide her pain. Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Sharp Objects Is the Feminist True Detective We've Been Waiting For," 8 July 2018 The Nashville resident, who has served in leadership positions for churches from Tennessee to Colorado, uses wit and sarcasm to relate to her audience. Dan Kelly, kansascity, "KC events June 21-27: J.B. Smoove, Penn & Teller, Tour de Lakes, Fiesta Filipina," 19 June 2018

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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sarcasm

Listen to Our Podcast about sarcasm

Statistics for sarcasm

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sarcasm

The first known use of sarcasm was in 1619

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sarcasm

sarcasm

noun

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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sarcasm

What made you want to look up sarcasm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!