noun sat·ire \ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r\

Definition of satire

  1. 1 :  a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn

  2. 2 :  trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly

Examples of satire in a sentence

  1. By contrast, Martial's friend, Juvenal, learned to transmute Martial's epigrammatic wit into savage satire. Juvenal's fierce, if occasionally obscene, tirades against immorality fit easily into the propaganda of the new era. —G. W. Bowersock, New York Review of Books, 26 Feb. 2009

  2. Unlike late-night talk shows that traffic in Hollywood interviews and stupid pet tricks, “The Daily Show” is a fearless social satire. Not many comedy shows would dare do five minutes on the intricacies of medicare or a relentlessly cheeky piece on President George W. Bush's Thanksgiving trip to Iraq … —Marc Peyser, Newsweek, 29 Dec. 2003 - 5 Jan. 2004

  3. Saturday Night Live alum Bill Murray stars in this film about Army basic training, and it features Second City TV veterans John Candy and Harold Ramis. Director Ivan Reitman co-produced Animal House. Do not, however, expect a devastating satire on the military; this film is so innocuous that the Defense Department let Reitman use Fort Knox, Ky. to make it. —People, 27 July 1981

  4. His movies are known for their use of satire.

  5. The movie is a political satire.

Origin and Etymology of satire

Medieval French or Latin; Medieval French, from Latin satura, satira, perhaps from (lanx) satura dish of mixed ingredients, from feminine of satur well-fed; akin to Latin satis enough — more at sad

First Known Use: 1501

Synonym Discussion of satire

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.

SATIRE Defined for English Language Learners


noun sat·ire \ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r\

Definition of satire for English Language Learners

  • : a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. : humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc.

  • : a book, movie, etc., that uses satire

SATIRE Defined for Kids


noun sat·ire \ˈsa-ˌtīr\

Definition of satire for Students

  1. 1 :  humor that is used to make fun of and often show the weaknesses of someone or something

  2. 2 :  something (as a book or movie) that uses satire

Seen and Heard

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


to reflect on carefully

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • manet-jeanne-spring
  • Which is a synonym of chaffer?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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