English

Difference Between Sarcasm and Irony

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Main Difference

The main difference between Sarcasm and Irony is that Sarcasm is a harsh comment on something, whereas Irony is defined as a group of words used to convey opposite meanings of the actual situation.

Sarcasm vs. Irony

Sarcasm is most purely defined as a harsh comment on something, whereas irony is defined as a group of words used to convey opposite meanings of the actual situation. The main purpose of sarcasm is criticism; on the other hand, the purpose of irony is to create humor. Sarcasm refers to spoken criticism; on the contrary, irony refers to written criticism mostly.

Sarcasm is used to relieve hidden feelings; conversely, the irony is a technique used to bring stylistic effects in writing. Sarcasm has some underlying or contextual meanings; on the opposite, irony that shows the exact opposite meaning of the actual situation. Sarcasm is merely a harsh made to hurt or pinch someone, whereas irony may be dramatic, situational, or verbal.

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Sarcasm is someone’s intentional act of teasing and hurting someone; on the flip side, irony may not be due to the actions of someone. Sarcasm is more intense and rude as compared to irony, as irony never hurts the sentiments of others. Sarcasm does not evoke feelings of pity in the audience; on the other hand, irony evokes pity for the bearer among the audience.

Sarcasm increases the intensity of a situation; conversely, irony reduces the intensity of a situation by presenting it humorously. Sarcasm depicts an expression of being grotesque or rude; on the flip side, irony does not convey such expressions. Sarcasm is based on latent emotions; on the contrary, the irony is not based on such emotions.

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Comparison Chart

SarcasmIrony
Sarcasm is most purely defined as a harsh comment on someone or something.The irony is defined as a group of words used to convey opposite meanings of the actual situation.
Purpose
CriticismHumor
Intensity
It increases the intensity of the situationIt decreases the intensity of a situation
Expressions
Grotesque or rude expressionsDoes not convey rude expressions
Pity
Does not evoke feelings of pityEvoke feelings of pity
Intentional Act
YesNo
Types
NoneDramatic, situational and verbal
Use
Relieving hidden feelingsBringing stylistic effects to writing

What is Sarcasm?

Sarcasm is most purely defined as a harsh comment on something. It is usually taken in a negative nuance. It usually represents spoken words and comments. Sarcasm is mostly considered as an intentional act done to hurt and degrade others. It is not done to make positive changes; rather, it is for criticism only. Mostly sarcasm is confused with verbal irony.

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The most interesting thing about sarcasm is that it requires guts to understand sarcasm. It is mostly double-edged and not direct but with a serious intention. The psychological reason for sarcasm is quite interesting; it shows hidden feelings of anger, fear, and frustration, which are coming out in the form of words. It is mostly coated in a humorous tone by the speaker.

The word sarcasm is of Greek origin, which means to tear to pieces and to rip apart. It refers to such strong vocabulary which rips all the senses of the listener. Sarcasm depicts something exactly opposite to the actual situation. For example, if a friend does her horrible makeup and asks the other, how do I look? The other replies, you look gorgeous. It is the simplest example of sarcasm.

Understanding context is very important for getting the exact meaning of sarcasm. Sarcasm is highly context-dependent; it has some underlying meaning. The vocal difference with sarcasm is also very intriguing; sometimes, it is spoken in low pitched voice and sometimes in high pitched voice.

What is Irony?

Irony can be defined as a group of words used to convey opposite meanings of the actual situation. The tone of irony may be serious or humorous. The irony is in written and spoken form, depending upon the situation. The irony is sometimes used to create humor to lessen the intensity of a situation. For example, if something is very spiky and if someone says it is as smooth as a thorn.

In literature, this device of irony is mostly used in tragedy, but different kinds of irony are used in different genres. Irony depicts something that is based on falsehood and tries to deny or overshadow the truth. It can be used to trap someone who sees the opposite side of things, whereas the original scene is overlooked.

The history of the term irony is quite interesting. It is originated from a Greek word meaning to ignore or overlook. Initially, it was used in Greek literature, especially in Greek tragedy plays, but this term was used by English playwriters of the 16th century. Later many kinds of irony were developed accordingly.

The irony is categorized as verbal, dramatic, and situational irony. Verbal irony is the situation in which spoken dialogues are exactly the opposite of the actual situation. Situational irony is the condition in which the action brings the opposite reaction of expectations. Dramatic irony is the situation in which the characters are unaware of a situation, whereas the audience is aware of it.

Key Differences

  1. Sarcasm is most purely defined as a harsh comment on something, whereas Irony is defined as a group of words used to convey opposite meanings of the actual situation.
  2. The main purpose of sarcasm is criticism; conversely, the purpose of irony is to create humor.
  3. Sarcasm refers to spoken criticism; on the flip side, irony refers to written criticism mostly.
  4. Sarcasm is used to relieve hidden feelings; opposingly, the irony is a technique used to bring stylistic effects in writing.
  5. Sarcasm has some underlying or contextual meanings; on the other hand, the irony that shows the exact opposite meaning of the actual situation.
  6. Sarcasm is merely a harsh made to hurt or pinch someone, whereas irony may be dramatic, situational, or verbal.
  7. Sarcasm is someone’s intentional act of teasing and hurting someone; on the contrary, irony may not be due to the actions of someone.
  8. Sarcasm does not evoke feelings of pity in the audience, but irony evokes pity for the bearer among the audience.
  9. Sarcasm increases the intensity of a situation; opposingly, irony reduces the intensity of a situation by presenting it humorously.
  10. Sarcasm depicts an expression of being grotesque or rude; conversely, irony does not convey such expressions.
  11. Sarcasm is based on latent emotions; on the flip side, the irony is not based on such emotions.

Conclusion

So, Sarcasm and Irony differ concerning purpose, and Sarcasm is used to pinch or hurt someone, whereas Irony is used to create humor in a situation to reduce its intensity.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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