sar·​cas·​tic sär-ˈka-stik How to pronounce sarcastic (audio)
: having the character of sarcasm
sarcastic criticism
: given to the use of sarcasm : caustic
a sarcastic critic
sarcastically adverb

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Snarky vs. Sarcastic

Some have questioned whether snarky is a real word. There can be no doubt that it is; the adjective has been recorded in English since 1906. Its original meaning, “crotchety, snappish,” has largely been overtaken, however, by the far more frequently-encountered sense “sarcastic, impertinent or irreverent.” The precise difference between utterances described as sarcastic and snarky will vary somewhat based on the individual using each word. Some feel that sarcastic usually implies irony, or stating the opposite of what is really intended (for example, “thank you so much for your promptness” spoken to someone who arrives late), whereas snarky implies simple impertinence or irreverence (as when Downton Abbey's Dowager Countess asks Isobel Crawley, “does it ever get cold on the moral high ground?”)

Choose the Right Synonym for sarcastic

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

Examples of sarcastic in a Sentence

DeWitt is everything Shea is not. And Shea quickly felt DeWitt's contempt. "Lincoln is loud," Jim says. "He makes sarcastic comments because he has to call attention to himself all the time. Some people are insecure because they haven't established themselves yet." Anne Marie Cruz, ESPN, 18 Feb. 2002
Close on the heels of "Millionaire" came "The Weakest Link," which added a new wrinkle (subsequently picked up by "American Idol"): Its British host, Anne Robinson, was presented not as a genteel, erudite tutor but rather as a rude, sarcastic jerk. Andrew Sullivan, New Republic, 4 Nov. 2002
Frank evokes the eccentric Hamilton family and their feisty Gullah housekeeper with originality and conviction; Susan herself—smart, sarcastic, funny and endearingly flawed—makes a lively and memorable narrator. Publishers Weekly, 24 Jan. 2000
her sarcastic comments that my singing reminded her of the time her dog was sick
Recent Examples on the Web His skillful take on the sarcastic but lovable, neurotic but sweet character who couldn’t be any funnier helped make the series a TV juggernaut over its 10-season run. Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2023 Here was an objectively good-looking man — funny too, of course, as well as sarcastic, silly, smart — saddled with a wildly disproportionate sense of his own inadequacy. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 29 Oct. 2023 Perry's character was the sarcastic one on the hit sitcom. Caitlin O'Kane, CBS News, 15 Nov. 2023 Perry's witty yet sarcastic character Chandler always brought jokes to every scene. Keith Langston, Peoplemag, 2 Nov. 2023 Following the news of Matthew Perry's death on Oct. 28, 2023, the show, where Perry played the quick-witted, sarcastic Chandler Bing, received an outpouring of love as fans flocked to his character's New York City apartment and paid tribute to the late actor on social media. Rebecca Aizin, Peoplemag, 1 Nov. 2023 Paul is both strict and pedantic, with a haughty and sarcastic manner. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 31 Oct. 2023 Perry played the sarcastic and cynical Chandler Bing, best friend of Ross Gellar, played by David Schwimmer. Caitlin O'Kane, CBS News, 30 Oct. 2023 That speech pattern — the sarcastic rhetorical question asked in a tone of mock disbelief — was typical of Chandler. Matt Stevens, New York Times, 30 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sarcastic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


sarc(asm) + -astic, by analogy with other Greek-derived words where the suffixes -asm and -astic imply one another (as enthusiasm, enthusiastic)

First Known Use

1695, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sarcastic was in 1695

Dictionary Entries Near sarcastic

Cite this Entry

“Sarcastic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


sar·​cas·​tic sär-ˈkas-tik How to pronounce sarcastic (audio)
: containing sarcasm
a sarcastic remark
: being in the habit of using sarcasm
a sarcastic person
sarcastically adverb

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