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

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Synonyms for satire


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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Cadiz, Spain Dates: February 20-March 1, 2020 Tradition: In Cadiz, Spain, the party is just as vibrant as other carnival celebrations, with a completely different motive: purging society's most pressing issues through parody and satire. Shauna Beni, Condé Nast Traveler, "A Guide to the Wildest Carnival Celebrations Around the World," 31 Jan. 2020 Picture a more layered and nuanced Korean version of Jordan Peele’s Us: Bong Joon-Ho’s black-comic social satire finds the haves and the have-nots battling for position in contemporary Korea. Kyle Smith, National Review, "The Ten Best Films of 2019," 23 Dec. 2019 Featuring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone, the film stabs at political satire but is best enjoyed for its visceral campy pleasures. Tyler Aquilina,, "10 racing movies that put stars behind the wheel," 12 Nov. 2019 But Lisa changing the girl’s name to Paige and proudly raising her as her own is only the beginning of the deadpan twists the filmmakers layer into this unpredictable social satire. Geoff Berkshire, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Greener Grass’ is one of the year’s weirdest comedies," 17 Oct. 2019 Traditionally, comics have been enlighteners, from the political commentary of Will Rogers, George Carlin and Jon Stewart to the satire of Don Rickles, The Colbert Report and Sarah Silverman to the confessional woes of Joan Rivers and Jim Gaffigan. Danny Woodburn, The Hollywood Reporter, "Bill Burr's New Comedy Special Punches Down on Actors With Disabilities (Guest Column)," 15 Sep. 2019 For example, the social satire aspect of the novel comes to a glorious climax in the book when a mudslide explodes into a neighbor’s house during a school fundraising brunch. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "What Have You Done, Richard Linklater?," 19 Aug. 2019 The opera takes a turn into savage satire with periodic appearances by Donald Trump, who notoriously called for the boys to be put to death. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "Meredith Monk’s “ATLAS” and the L.A. Phil’s Extraordinary Season," 24 June 2019 The Greg Gutfeld Show, a weekly, late night , political satire program, beat Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show in viewers, as well as The Daily Show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and Conan in combined total viewers. Carly Ortiz-lytle, Washington Examiner, "Fox News hits biggest viewership milestone in network's 23-year history," 27 Feb. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for satire

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The first known use of satire was in 1501

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Statistics for satire

Last Updated

20 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Satire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Mar. 2020.

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More Definitions for satire


How to pronounce satire (audio)

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


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

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