sarcasm

noun

sar·​casm ˈsär-ˌka-zəm How to pronounce sarcasm (audio)
1
: a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain
2
a
: a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual
b
: the use or language of sarcasm

Frequently Asked Questions

Is sarcasm the same as irony?

Sarcasm refers to the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say, especially in order to insult someone, or to show irritation, or just to be funny. For example, saying "they're really on top of things" to describe a group of people who are very disorganized is using sarcasm. Most often, sarcasm is biting, and intended to cause pain. Irony can also refer to the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say; the "they're really on top of things" statement about the very disorganized group of people can also be described as an ironic statement. But irony can also refer to a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected; for example, it is ironic if someone who was raised by professional musicians but who wanted a very different kind of life then fell in love with and married a professional musician.

What is the plural of sarcasm?

Sarcasm is what we refer to as a noncount noun ("a noun that denotes a homogeneous substance or a concept without subdivisions and that in English is preceded in indefinite singular constructions by some rather than a or an"), and has no plural form.

What are some synonyms for sarcasm?

Sarcasm shares some semantic territory with a number of other English words, including wit, repartee, and humor. While most of these are in some way concerned with inducing laughter, sarcasm stands alone in denoting caustic language that is designed to cut or give pain.

Choose the Right Synonym for sarcasm

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

Example Sentences

"That was my favorite show yet this tour," Banks says. "I love audiences that are ambivalent." For a second, I think he's laying on the sarcasm, until he continues. "I really like the chance to win people over." David Peisner, Spin, August 2007 "The best part of being single," Bryce Donovan jokes, "is being able to choose any woman I want to shoot me down." Such self-deprecating sarcasm is the trademark of this newsman's four-year-old weekly column "It Beats Working" in the Charleston Post and Courier. People, 26 June 2006 "But see," I say … "in my line of work I'm supposed to dress in a way that makes clients feel sorry for me, or better yet superior to me. I think I accomplish that pretty well." Paul looks over at me again with a distasteful look that might be ready to slide into sarcasm, only he doesn't know if I'm making fun of him. He says nothing. Richard Ford, Independence Day, (1995) 1996 a voice full of sarcasm I know you're not happy, but there's no need to resort to petty sarcasms to make your point.
Recent Examples on the Web Anarumo paraphased Ossai’s radio response with sarcasm and elation. Mohammad Ahmad, cleveland, 25 Oct. 2022 But the film’s winsome disposition also owes largely to leading lady Kaitlyn Dever, who makes a feisty dish out of Rosaline’s sarcasm and independent personality with impeccable comic timing. Tomris Laffly, Variety, 11 Oct. 2022 Despite the sarcasm and hyperbole, the legal brief isn’t a joke. Rachel Pannett, Washington Post, 4 Oct. 2022 The brief mixes satire, sarcasm and legal arguments, while building on its history of poking at the Supreme Court by calling out its heavy use of Latin phrases. Michael Lee, Fox News, 4 Oct. 2022 But McNally made the outgoing late-night host another offer Friday, albeit one slathered in sarcasm. Los Angeles Times, 21 Oct. 2022 Meanwhile, your guy’s outer layer is sarcasm, contempt and blame — which gives him zero standing to find your coping methods lacking. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 6 Oct. 2022 Larson adds a healthy dose of sarcasm to undercut her character’s immense power, and Jackson is eerily brilliant, making for a super fun 123 minutes. WIRED, 23 Sep. 2022 Jason Gay offers something like a philosophy on modern life, dressed down with self-deprecating wit and a hearty dash of sarcasm. Chloe Schama, Vogue, 14 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

earlier sarcasmus, borrowed from Middle French or Late Latin; Middle French sarcasme, borrowed from Late Latin sarcasmos "mockery," borrowed from Late Greek sarkasmós, from Greek sarkázein "to jeer at while biting the lips" (in galen; perhaps, if the original sense was "to bite or strip off flesh," derivative of sark-, sárx "flesh") + -smos, suffix of verbal action — more at sarco-

Note: The original sense of the Greek verb sarkázein is conjectural, as all instances referring to jeering or mockery come from late or post-classical sources, generally lexica. The sole significant early uses are in Aristophanes' play Peace, where the Megarians, while pulling boulders from the entrance to a cave, are described as performing the action of the verb sarkázein "like mean (?) curs," while perishing from hunger ("hoi Megarês … hélkousin d' hómōs glischrótata sarkázontes hṓsper kynídia"); and in the Hippocratic treatise "On Joints" (Perì Arthrôn), where the verb is used to describe hoofed animals eating grass. In both cases the interpretation of sarkázein is far from transparent.

First Known Use

1619, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sarcasm was in 1619

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Cite this Entry

“Sarcasm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sarcasm. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

sarcasm

noun

sar·​casm ˈsär-ˌkaz-əm How to pronounce sarcasm (audio)
: the use of words that mean the opposite of what the speaker really thinks in order to insult, show irritation, or be funny

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