Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.
  • n. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.
  • n. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect. See Synonyms at wit1.
  • n. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs: "Hyde noted the irony of Ireland's copying the nation she most hated” ( Richard Kain).
  • n. An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity. See Usage Note at ironic.
  • n. Dramatic irony.
  • n. Socratic irony.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of or pertaining to the metal iron.
  • n. A statement that, when taken in context, may actually mean something different from, or the opposite of what is written literally; the use of words expressing something other than their literal intention, notably as a form of humor.
  • n. Dramatic irony: a theatrical effect in which the meaning of a situation, or some incongruity in the plot, is understood by the audience, but not by the characters in the play.
  • n. Ignorance feigned for the purpose of confounding or provoking an antagonist; Socratic irony.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Made or consisting of iron; partaking of iron; iron; ; -- In this sense iron is the more common term.
  • adj. Resembling iron in taste, hardness, or other physical property.
  • n. Dissimulation; ignorance feigned for the purpose of confounding or provoking an antagonist.
  • n. A sort of humor, ridicule, or light sarcasm, which adopts a mode of speech the meaning of which is contrary to the literal sense of the words.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Consisting of or resembling iron; also, resembling any of the distinctive qualities of iron.
  • n. Simulated ignorance in discussion: a method of exposing an antagonist's ignorance by pretending to desire information or instruction from him.
  • n. Hence Covert sarcasm; such a use of agreeable or commendatory forms of expression as to convey a meaning opposite to that literally expressed; sarcastic laudation, compliment, or the like.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a trope that involves incongruity between what is expected and what occurs
  • n. incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs
  • n. witty language used to convey insults or scorn

Etymologies

French ironie, from Old French, from Latin īrōnīa, from Greek eirōneia, feigned ignorance, from eirōn, dissembler, probably from eirein, to say; see wer-5 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
iron +‎ -y (Wiktionary)
First attested in 1502. From Latin īrōnīa (perhaps via Middle French ironie), from Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία (eirōneia, "irony, pretext"), from εἴρων (eirōn, "one who feigns ignorance"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • What the carpenter's nail felt like?

    June 1, 2010

  • Lo.

    February 4, 2010

  • Sheesh, busted for DUI while sitting on your bar stool!?

    April 1, 2009

  • JM wonders why irony isn't the same as bronzey or silvery or goldy or tinny.

    February 1, 2009

  • December 18, 2008

  • The use of the word “irony�? has declined 50% in New York daily newspapers since 2000.

    November 24, 2008

  • As Bender Bending Rodriguez sings, "The use of words expressing something other than their literal intention!"

    December 3, 2006