Difference Between Sarcastic and Sardonic


Main Difference

In the use of language, there are many words which are different but have almost the same meanings, two similar terms which are employed in an identical manner are sarcastic and sardonic. Both these words are often misinterpreted because of the resemblance but actually differ in usage when it comes to the origin of language. Sarcastically originates from the word sarcasm which signifies the use of such tone which gives a scornful meaning to the person towards which the comment is directed. Therefore, sarcastic is the term used for such sound which shows mockery in their words. Sardonic, on the other hand, is the act of being sarcastic. It demonstrates the behavior of the person who is being sarcastic. These can be differentiated in other ways as well, for example, sarcasm shows ironic tone while sardonic does not show irony, and it actually does not employ anything according to its meaning. Another way of showing the difference is that sarcastic is something that is actually spoken by the person, while sardonic is the expression of the person who is uttering those words. More often than not sarcastic tone is directed towards other people but in the case of sardonic, the expressions can be used for personal reflection as well. This difference can help to interpret that in a sarcastic tone, the main aim of the person is to ridicule the other person, and it can be because of disbelief or even jealousy. The sardonic term, on the other hand, does not agree with this statement because it can be used for own self while referring. Sardonic comments, for this reason, cannot be taken back because they are not just for the other person, but people can say sorry for their sarcastic remarks to others. Therefore, it can be stated that both the words have same meanings in a broader prospect but are used in a different perceptive and the actual origin can differ as well. Sadness is a core component of sardonic tone which is missing from being sarcastic. To summarize the variation, a person can be sarcastic and not give the impression of being sardonic, and a person can be sardonic without creating the impression of being sarcastic depending on the word delivery.

Comparison Chart

Not an expressionExpression
Tone cannot be humorousTone can be humorous
Comments are directed towards the other person onlyComments are directed towards the other or own self
People can apologize for sarcastic commentsSardonic conduct cannot always be apologized for.

Definition of Sarcastic

Sarcastic is the tone, which is originated from the word sarcasm. It means the taunting way or harsh remarks directed towards the other person to show contempt and disharmony. This name is derived from Greek word “sarkazein” which means tearing of flesh, in simple terms this can be interpreted exactly like something that means speaking bitterly about the other person. Sarcastic is a remark which is for the other person, it is always directed towards someone else and cannot be said for views directed towards own self. The best example of this will be a remark that is said about the other person with the intent to make fun of that person or to settle scores with someone. It could be used directly for that person or indirectly coated in other words which have to be decoded. It depends on the tone in which the word is being said, in general, language, the words might not mean something bad but the way they are spoken and the sound of those words actually help to make them sarcastic.


Definition of Sardonic

Sardonic can be defined as the way of saying something, it may or may not be rude and can include humor as well. It is derived from Greek word “sardanios” which means a bitter laughter. It can, therefore, be interpreted as something which is not actually spoken but the actions or the expressions of the person who says the words matters more. Usually, it is considered a synonym for sarcastic but that is not true. It does not include irony, and the remark can be for person reflection as well, people can use them to point something about themselves which they consider not as good. Therefore, one cannot apologize for being sardonic. It also depends on the intention of someone as face expressions play an important part in conveying the true meaning of the words spoken. Sardonic tone can show sadness, irritation and other feelings instead of just contempt and rudeness.

Differences in a Nutshell

  1. Both the words have almost the same meaning but different interpretation.
  2. Sarcastic is not an expression, but sardonic is a manifestation.
  3. Sarcastic tone cannot be humorous while sardonic comments can be used for humor.
  4. Sarcastic is the tone of a person while delivering words while sardonic is the expressions of the person while speaking those words.
  5. Sarcastic comments are directed towards the other person only, but sardonic comments can be pointed towards own self.
  6. Sarcastic behavior is used for the purpose of ridicule and mockery while sardonic behavior can be termed for self-reflection in some cases.
  7. It is possible to be sarcastic without being sardonic just like it is possible to be sardonic without being sarcastic.
  8. People can apologize for sarcastic comments in all situations, but sardonic conduct cannot always be apologized for.


People who use language in the way they get to hear are the ones who end up confusing the simplest terms. It is not their mistake entirely since the two terms which are discussed here do have many differences and similarities between them. All in all, they have been explained in this space to make people understand them better.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss