2008: Irony Definition

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Irony Definition
Can you stop glaring at me like that? It makes me feel really ironic.
Title text: Can you stop glaring at me like that? It makes me feel really ironic.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: It's IRONIC how incomplete this explanation is - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Irony is, to quote the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.” It is often invoked to add intrigue to an otherwise dull anecdote of scenario. Once again quoting Merriam-Webster:

“Considerable thought is given to what events constitute “true” irony, and the dictionary is often called upon to supply an answer. Here are the facts about how the word irony is used.

Irony has two formal uses that are not as common in general prose as its more casual uses. One refers to Socratic irony—a method of revealing an opponent’s ignorance by pretending to be ignorant yourself and asking probing questions. The other refers to dramatic irony or tragic irony—an incongruity between the situation in a drama and the words used by the characters that only the audience can see. Socratic irony is a tool used in debating; dramatic irony is what happens when the audience realizes that Romeo and Juliet’s plans will go awry.

The third, and debated, use of irony regards what’s called situational irony. Situational irony involves a striking reversal of what is expected or intended: a person sidesteps a pothole to avoid injury and in doing so steps into another pothole and injures themselves. Critics claim the word irony and ironic as they are generally used (as in, “Isn’t it ironic that you called just as I was planning to call you?”) can only apply to situational irony, and uses like the one above are more properly called coincidence. The historical record shows that irony and ironic have been used imprecisely for almost 100 years at least, and often to refer to coincidence. This 1939 quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald is typical: "It is an ironic thought that the last picture job I took—against my better judgment—yielded me five thousand dollars five hundred and cost over four thousand in medical attention." Is this true situational irony? It’s debatable.

The word irony has come to be applied to events that are merely curious or coincidental, and while some feel this is an incorrect use of the word, it is merely a new one.’

While the modern use of the word may have robbed irony of its rich historical and literary undertones, irony is not a relevant concept to everyday life save for commenting glibly on an ironic situation. Lilliputian quibbles over the correct use of the word help no one.

Finally, Black Hat expresses an opinion healthy for society, quipping gleefully that it is ironic that Cueball may have the definition of irony memorized, but Black Hat is happier for not knowing it. In the title text, Cueball is evidently not happy with Black Hat, but the latter responds in a typically victorious fashion, using either the verbal sense of irony (i.e. sarcasm) or the aforementioned incorrect use, which only underscores his point.


[Black Hat and Cueball are walking together, with Black Hat walking behind Cueball with his arms spread out. Cueball is visibly upset, as evidenced by the squiggle floating above his head and his balled up fists.]
Black Hat: It's ironic how you know the definition of irony, yet I'm the one in this conversation who's happy.

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Adding to the irony are the complaints from overeducated drama fans criticizing common uses of the term, assuming that "dramatic irony" is the only valid definition. Search "alanis morissette ironic misuse" for lots of fun with semantics and pseudo-intellectualism. I suspect that Randall is poking fun at the critics, rather than those who misuse the term. 17:56, 18 June 2018 (UTC)

  • I agree it's poking fun at the critics. The explanation should include correct examples of irony that even non-USA pedantics agree meet the definition. 19:03, 18 June 2018 (UTC)Pat

Should mention be made that a possible motivation of this comic is President Trump's misuse of the word "ironic" 11 days earlier in a tweet? [1] Heshy (talk) 18:40, 18 June 2018 (UTC)

Eleven days ago seems a bit distant to be an inspiration. It's not like this comic is infrequently updated.... 23:51, 18 June 2018 (UTC)

If sarcasm is a type of irony, is this question ironic? 20:19, 18 June 2018 (UTC)

Since when is Canada not part of America? :) RandalSchwartz (talk) 02:09, 19 June 2018 (UTC)

Incorrect interpretation

> The most common types of irony are sarcasm and paradox. Black Hat is using the latter

The current explanation is incorrect. Irony can be defined as a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result. Therefore, Black Hat is using the word correctly in the comic, as Cueball's idea that being right will make him happy opposes the reality that by understanding what is correct he is only frustrated when people use the word incorrectly. In the Title Text, Black Hat uses the word incorrectly to further justify the point made above, that Cueball's expectations are subverted because knowledge only brings him frustration.

I think this interpretation misses the point. Whatever about sarcasm and paradox being examples of irony (I'm pretty sure sarcasm at least is not, paradox I'm not sure about either - irony is more about metacommentary than direct paradox), but Black Hat's statement isn't paradoxical anyway. Black Hat is using the term "irony" incorrectly, both in the comic and the title text. In the comic, be states that Cueball knows the definition of irony, implying that he, Black Hat does not. Cueball is angry that Black Hat is using "ironic" incorrectly.

Furthermore, the extra meta layer is that while Black Hat's statement is not ironic, the situation in the comic is ironic in itself: it's ironic that the Black Hat is choosing to use ironic in various statements even though he seems to imply that he knows full well that he does not know the definition of the word.

-- 06:45, 19 June 2018 (UTC)

I disagree with the paragraph 'Blackhat is deliberately using his ignorance of language to mock Cueball by stating that it is "ironic" that he is using the word "Irony" without knowing what it means, but is still the happy one. This is both the grammatically correct use of the word "Ironic" and arguably itself an ironic situation.' For one thing, if he's ignorant of the definition of Irony then he can't be deliberately using said ignorance to be ironic, but that's OK because he's not being ironic. There's nothing ironic about him being the happy one despite not knowing what irony means - I would imagine that's true of many people, whilst many irony pedants are unhappy. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Probably the worst explanation here for ever

First I've moved this following sentences to this discussion (small comments by me in parentheses):

  • The misuse of the word ironic when one means especially inconvenient is a common one, with a well-known example being Alanis Morissette's song "Ironic". (Not irony in many parts)
  • This issue represents one that exists on a larger scale with so-called "Grammar Nazis" correcting grammar and word choice in ways that do not affect the overall meaning. (This not about Grammar Nazis)
  • In the comic, Blackhat misuses the word ironic by saying that it's funny, because even though he didn't use a word correctly, he is not upset about it. (Slightly still in the explanation)
  • The title text then continues the joke by misusing the word 'ironic' as if it were a feeling. (Cueball just misspells something)

Then I've written a first draft, please help. And one more: It's ironic that a German native speaker has to figure out how the humor at this comic works. I'm sure I don't cover all. --Dgbrt (talk) 22:28, 27 August 2018 (UTC)