Which word has the most ironic definition

irony

What is irony?

Irony is a rhetorical stylistic device that denotes improper speaking: in order to understand what is meant, it is therefore necessary to invert the speaker's statement into its exact opposite. Since irony can often only be deciphered unambiguously with the help of verbal signals ("disguised" voice, undertone) or non-verbal signals (facial expressions, gestures), this stylistic device is mainly used in colloquial language - nevertheless, irony can also be used in all literary genres Find.

The term irony

The term irony is derived from the Greek word eironeia, which roughly corresponds to the meaning of "pretense" or "pretense". Hence the trait of irony is rendered quite aptly by its Greek origin.

Examples for a better understanding

Since an ironic speaker makes a statement that contradicts his or her beliefs or even the obvious facts, the audience is required to take a leap of thought in order to get on the track of what is actually meant. In everyday life, however, knowledge of the situational background is often enough to be able to recognize an ironic expression without a doubt.

The Meier family is on their way to the beach with bags and bags when it suddenly starts to rain heavily. "The weather is great!" Says the father with a sigh.

Due to the information that the family is planning a day in the sun, it goes without saying that the father's sentence is an ironic statement. If it were in principle quite conceivable that the Meier family could get excited about a rain shower, the bad weather in this special case must simply stand in the way of the hoped-for bathing fun. On top of that, the sigh is another clue that the rain is really far from great.

While it was not necessary to be familiar with the special preferences and peculiarities of the Meier family in order to understand the first example, in many other cases a common knowledge or a matching background of experience is necessary in order to be sure that a statement is actually intended as ironic identify.

With a pounding heart, Kira has finally decided to part with her long hair. "Great hairstyle," calls out Julia, who she runs into on the way home.

Now, of course, I wish Kira that Julia really means the compliment sincerely. However, if Julia is not one of her better friends, this statement should lead to a feeling of insecurity. If in this case the person concerned is not fully aware of the possible ironic content of the statement, it is practically impossible for outsiders to come to a well-founded judgment. For the decryption it is necessary to know the relationship between the two girls.

What is the function of irony?

If it initially seems absurd that a speaker makes the understanding of his statements more difficult by using irony, the two examples given already point to typical reasons for the use of this rhetorical device. In the first case, the father's statement eases the generally annoying situation. Irony can therefore help to spice up communication with a little more variety, originality and wit.

If in the second example the unfortunate case is assumed that Julia also means her statement ironically, this stylistic device is used as a conscious encryption of what is actually meant. In addition, the irony can serve to distance and demarcation - and thus also fulfill an identity-creating function. If, in order to understand the irony, a very specific common knowledge between the speaker and the recipient is assumed, the conversation partners identify themselves as belonging to a common group - for example of scientists, music lovers or allotment gardeners - if the communication is successful (in this case the recognition of the ironic meaning) .

Differentiation from sarcasm and cynicism

The stylistic device of irony shows certain similarities to both sarcasm and cynicism, which can occasionally lead to confusion in everyday language use. However, mainly due to the different thrusts, the three terms can be clearly distinguished from one another.

The irony As a linguistic means of expression, it is initially value-neutral. This means that the ironic statement can convey positive, negative or even neutral messages depending on the situation.

Sarcastic Meant utterances are often dressed in an ironic garb, but always have a mocking or even scornful background. A sarcastic speaker always approaches the recipient with a negative attitude.

With the term cynicism on the other hand, an attitude of mind is circumscribed which does not care about norms and social conventions, and which - with the help of irony, among other things - makes ridiculous in an often personally hurtful way.

Irony in texts

In written form, understanding ironic expressions is always difficult due to the lack of non-verbal means of communication. If the irony is identified in conversations on the basis of, among other things, the "associated" facial expressions and gestures, this stylistic device can usually only be identified in all literary genres by communicating the situational background. Often, however, the author also assumes that the author has shared world or specialist knowledge with the reader.

The meanwhile inflationary use of emoticons is proof that ironic expressions in texts are particularly often misunderstood. Since misinterpretations can lead to angry reactions, especially in personal correspondence, emoticons have gained in importance in modern communication from e-mail to WhatsApp messages as a reference to ironic statements.

Page published on 03/26/2015. Last updated on October 26th, 2020.