sar·​don·​ic sär-ˈdä-nik How to pronounce sardonic (audio)
: disdainfully or skeptically humorous : derisively mocking
a sardonic comment
sardonically adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for sardonic

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

Example Sentences

"The Great War," used interchangeably with "the First World War" (so named in 1918 by a sardonic English journalist, who knew it would not be the last such conflict) … Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic, May 1999 They have that brand of sardonic humor special to people up against it: black and wry and shocking … Doris Lessing, New Yorker, 16 Mar. 1987 In a story by Flaubert, this spreading of cloths to save the carpet would be observed with a sardonic eye; in Lawrence it is bleakly practical. Hugh Kenner, A Sinking Island, 1987 The movie is a sardonic look at modern life. a sardonic little jab that made her visitor quiet and subdued for the rest of the night
Recent Examples on the Web Twain’s sardonic, salt-of-the-earth sensibility is emblematic of Missouri culture and politics, embodied most famously, perhaps, by congressman Willard Duncan ... Patrick Ishmael, National Review, 28 Oct. 2022 Hilarious and bizarre, the 12 issues of Nextwave are sure to make viewers demand that Donnelly play Bloodstone as nothing less than a sardonic, gun-toting jerk. Joe George, Men's Health, 7 Oct. 2022 Because this is a comic novel, albeit more sardonic than droll, those eggs will wind up scrambled. Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2021 The series’ trademark sardonic humor — delivered by a first-rate comedy ensemble — is as consistent and vital as ever, as is the show’s keen interest in the ways that former generations’ routes to economic mobility have largely disappeared. Inkoo Kang, Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2022 And that both actresses are keyed into the darkly sardonic sense of humor Robinson nurtures throughout. Manuel Betancourt, Variety, 16 Sep. 2022 In this second solo series, She-Hulk fully embraces her sardonic sense of humor, which often manifests in fourth-wall-breaking asides to the audience. Joe George, Men's Health, 19 Aug. 2022 Rounding out the crew is new hire Jonah (Ben Feldman), a dreamy dreamer, sardonic Garrett (Colton Dunn), ambitious Mateo (Nico Santos), and sweet young Cheyenne (Nichole Bloom). Toby Grey, BGR, 16 Sep. 2022 Dylan is a good comparison: two sardonic tricksters, artistically restless and self-aware, unwilling to let the weight of their ‘60s glory days prevent them from carrying on into a still-inventive old age. Mark Feeney,, 13 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


re-formation, with the suffix -ic entry 1, of earlier sardonian, from Greek sardónios, alteration (after Sardónios "Sardinian") of earlier sardánios "(of laughter or smiling) bitter, scornful" (of obscure origin) + -an entry 2

First Known Use

1638, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sardonic was in 1638

Dictionary Entries Near sardonic

Cite this Entry

“Sardonic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



sar·​don·​ic sär-ˈdän-ik How to pronounce sardonic (audio)
sardonically adverb

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