irony

1 [ahy-ruh-nee, ahy-er-]
noun, plural ironies.
1.
the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.
2.
Literature.
a.
a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.
b.
(especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.
5.
an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
6.
the incongruity of this.
7.
an objectively sardonic style of speech or writing.
8.
an objectively or humorously sardonic utterance, disposition, quality, etc.

Origin:
1495–1505; < Latin īrōnīa < Greek eirōneía dissimulation, sarcasm, understatement, equivalent to eírōn a dissembler + -eia -y3


1, 2. Irony, sarcasm, satire indicate mockery of something or someone. The essential feature of irony is the indirect presentation of a contradiction between an action or expression and the context in which it occurs. In the figure of speech, emphasis is placed on the opposition between the literal and intended meaning of a statement; one thing is said and its opposite implied, as in the comment, “Beautiful weather, isn't it?” made when it is raining or nasty. Ironic literature exploits, in addition to the rhetorical figure, such devices as character development, situation, and plot to stress the paradoxical nature of reality or the contrast between an ideal and actual condition, set of circumstances, etc., frequently in such a way as to stress the absurdity present in the contradiction between substance and form. Irony differs from sarcasm in greater subtlety and wit. In sarcasm ridicule or mockery is used harshly, often crudely and contemptuously, for destructive purposes. It may be used in an indirect manner, and have the form of irony, as in “What a fine musician you turned out to be!” or it may be used in the form of a direct statement, “You couldn't play one piece correctly if you had two assistants.” The distinctive quality of sarcasm is present in the spoken word and manifested chiefly by vocal inflection, whereas satire and irony arising originally as literary and rhetorical forms, are exhibited in the organization or structuring of either language or literary material. Satire usually implies the use of irony or sarcasm for censorious or critical purposes and is often directed at public figures or institutions, conventional behavior, political situations, etc.
Dictionary.com Unabridged

irony

2 [ahy-er-nee]
adjective
consisting of, containing, or resembling the metal iron: an irony color.

Origin:
1350–1400; Middle English; see iron, -y1

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
irony1 (ˈaɪrənɪ)
 
n , pl -nies
1.  the humorous or mildly sarcastic use of words to imply the opposite of what they normally mean
2.  an instance of this, used to draw attention to some incongruity or irrationality
3.  incongruity between what is expected to be and what actually is, or a situation or result showing such incongruity
4.  See dramatic irony
5.  philosophy See Socratic irony
 
[C16: from Latin ironia, from Greek eirōneia, from eirōn dissembler, from eirein to speak]

irony2 (ˈaɪənɪ)
 
adj
of, resembling, or containing iron

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

irony
c.1500, from L. ironia, from Gk. eironeia, from eiron "dissembler," perhaps related to eirein "to speak" (see verb). Used in Gk. of affected ignorance, especially that of Socrates. For nuances of usage, see humor.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

irony definition


The use of words to mean something very different from what they appear on the surface to mean. Jonathan Swift uses irony in “A Modest Proposal” when he suggests the eating of babies as a solution to overpopulation and starvation in Ireland.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
So the irony is this: technology is freeing us from technology.
But, by a curious irony, neither poverty nor the bottle impaired the tireless
  industry of the hacks.
Archer felt the irony but did not dare to take it up.
The irony is that the dangerous dwindling of diversity in our food supply is
  the unanticipated result of an agricultural triumph.
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