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[sat-ahyuh r] /ˈsæt aɪər/
the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
a literary genre comprising such compositions.
1500-10; < Latin satira, variant of satura medley, perhaps feminine derivative of satur sated (see saturate)
Related forms
nonsatire, noun
Can be confused
burlesque, caricature, cartoon, parody, satire (see synonym study at burlesque; see synonym study at the current entry)
satire, satyr.
1. See irony1 . 2, 3. burlesque, caricature, parody, travesty. Satire, lampoon refer to literary forms in which vices or follies are ridiculed. Satire, the general term, often emphasizes the weakness more than the weak person, and usually implies moral judgment and corrective purpose: Swift's satire of human pettiness and bestiality. Lampoon refers to a form of satire, often political or personal, characterized by the malice or virulence of its attack: lampoons of the leading political figures. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for satire
  • Its impossible to watch any kind of western satire with her.
  • Shows range from political satire to performance puppetry and admission is by donation.
  • Parody would be a first cousin, a satire on an actual work of art.
  • Otherwise, the opportunities for satire and mortification are much too delicious.
  • These articles make for good satire, but the fact that they're written under a pseudonym allows for fiction.
  • The imaginary society is simply the vehicle for satire and criticism of things as they are.
  • The poem in its mock heroics is a sly satire of the grand manner of the romantic epic.
  • The story is tightly narrated, with some well-turned yuppie satire.
  • The sensitive author at once set about revenging himself by satire.
  • The old blackout-sketch-blackout routine was replaced by a new form in which satire and current events merged before your eyes.
British Dictionary definitions for satire


a novel, play, entertainment, etc, in which topical issues, folly, or evil are held up to scorn by means of ridicule and irony
the genre constituted by such works
the use of ridicule, irony, etc, to create such an effect
Word Origin
C16: from Latin satira a mixture, from satur sated, from satis enough
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for satire
late 14c., "work intended to ridicule vice or folly," from L. satira "satire, poetic medley," earlier satura, in lanx satura "mixed dish, dish filled with various kinds of fruit," lit. "full dish," from fem. of satur "sated" (see saturate). First applied in literary sense to a collection of poems on a variety of subjects by Ennius. In classical L., a poem which assailed the prevailing vices, one after another. Altered in L. by infl. of Gk. satyr, on mistaken notion that the form is related to the Gk. satyr drama (see satyr).
"Satire (n.) - An obsolete kind of literary composition in which the vices and follies of the author's enemies were expounded with imperfect tenderness. In this country satire never had more than a sickly and uncertain existence, for the soul of it is wit, wherein we are dolefully deficient, the humor that we mistake for it, like all humor, being tolerant and sympathetic. Moreover, although Americans are 'endowed by their Creator' with abundant vice and folly, it is not generally known that these are reprehensible qualities, wherefore the satirist is popularly regarded as a sour-spirited knave, and his every victim's outcry for codefendants evokes a national assent." [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary," 1911]
For nuances of usage, see humor.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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satire in Culture

satire definition

A work of literature that mocks social conventions, another work of art, or anything its author thinks ridiculous. Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift, is a satire of eighteenth-century British society.

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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