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

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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

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Marlo uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism, but we, as viewers, keep getting a peek behind that mask, repeatedly. Michael O'sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "With her new movie 'Tully,' Diablo Cody delves into the dark side of parenting," 4 May 2018 Newsletter Sign-up The bright thread of exasperated sarcasm that runs through the narrative compensates for its wheel-spinning. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Critical Mass of Absurdist Misapprehensions," 30 Nov. 2018 Before any baby boomers start yapping about how millennials are too sensitive, please take a class in sarcasm, then consider wrapping up a gag gift or two to the beloved millennials in your life to help them build a thicker skin this holiday season. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "This Monopoly For Millennials Is The Funniest, But Cruelest Game Of The Holiday Season," 19 Nov. 2018 Gallows humor, sure—but this isn’t the first time Trump has floundered in the unspoken role of comforter in chief, relying on sarcasm instead of conveying sympathy. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "In Post-Florence North Carolina, Donald Trump Continues to Fail in His Role as Comforter in Chief," 20 Sep. 2018 Charlie’s British accent, Yale was convinced, emerged more in sarcasm. Rebecca Makkai, chicagotribune.com, "An excerpt from 'The Great Believers' by Rebecca Makkai: 1985," 21 May 2018 That was sarcasm: The Americans never reached Berlin in 1918. Arthur Herman, WSJ, "The Danger of Rushing Into Peace," 11 Nov. 2018 Penn is the talker, his schtick is sarcasm (occasionally sounding off on politics and religion), while mute Teller is the performer. Juliana Shallcross, Condé Nast Traveler, "10 Best Shows to See in Las Vegas," 27 Feb. 2018 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

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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Last Updated

2 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for sarcasm

The first known use of sarcasm was in 1619

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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

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