satire

noun
sat·​ire | \ ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r How to pronounce satire (audio) \

Definition of satire

1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for satire

Synonyms

lampoon, pasquinade

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

The Culinary Roots of Satire

Satire came into English at the beginning of the 16th century, and the meaning of the word has not strayed very far from its original sense. The initial uses were primarily applied to poems, and the term now has a broader applicability. Satire has a semantic and etymological overlap with both farce and lampoon. Farce ("a light dramatic composition marked by broadly satirical comedy and improbable plot") came into English as a synonym for forcemeat, meaning "finely chopped and highly seasoned meat or fish that is either served alone or used as a stuffing." Lampoon  ("a harsh satire usually directed against an individual") is thought to come from the French lampons!, meaning "let us guzzle!" And satire is believed to trace back to the Latin satur, meaning "well-fed."

Examples of satire in a Sentence

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 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 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 His movies are known for their use of satire. The movie is a political satire.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Riley’s satire is never wider than in its treatment of WorryFree, the tech giant run by the movie's big bad: CEO Steve Lift, played by a caftan-wearing Armie Hammer. Joseph Bien-kahn, WIRED, "Radical As Ever, Boots Riley Takes On the Tech Boom," 4 July 2018 The art includes plenty of dark humor, demons, and maybe even some twisted political satire. Alison Stanton, azcentral, "47 Halloween events around Phoenix scare up fun for all ages," 31 Oct. 2017 That is the North London neighborhood that is home to Sports Banger, a brand that combines bootleg satire, for-the-people sportswear, social campaigning, and hard-core techno. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "In London, Rave Culture Is Alive and Unwell at Sports Banger," 18 Feb. 2019 Other cases included puppeteers purveying political satire, bloggers joking about assassinations of members of the 1939-1975 authoritarian regime and singers flouting at terror attack victims. Lorne Cook, The Seattle Times, "Belgian court rules out extradition for Spanish rapper," 17 Sep. 2018 Labeling this obvious satire 'harassment' makes light of the actual cases of serious harassment that colleges should be looking to combat, and wastes resources that could be used to investigate real offenses. refinery29.com, "Syracuse Suspends 16 Students For Racist Theta Tau Fraternity Roast," 8 June 2018 Religious satire is strictly off-limits, and the editors bleep out potentially offensive language after the show is recorded live. Sharif Hassan, Washington Post, "Live from Kabul: Afghanistan’s SNL offers comic relief to war-weary viewers," 3 May 2018 But the film’s satire is limited to those checklist attributes. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The Happytime Murders tests the limits of subverting nostalgia," 24 Aug. 2018 Both the organization and library officials said the display, while its intent was satire, came off as being against Muslim women, and possibly inciting violence against Muslims. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "In wake of backlash over 'unfortunate poem' display, Aurora library to start sensitivity training in May," 28 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'satire.' 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 satire

1501, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for satire

Middle French or Latin; Middle 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

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for satire

satire

noun

English Language Learners Definition of satire

: 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

noun
sat·​ire | \ ˈsa-ˌtīr How to pronounce satire (audio) \

Kids Definition of satire

1 : humor that is used to make fun of and often show the weaknesses of someone or something
2 : something (as a book or movie) that uses satire

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on satire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with satire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for satire

Spanish Central: Translation of satire

Nglish: Translation of satire for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of satire for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about satire

Comments on satire

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

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!