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situational irony

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Definition:

An occasion in which the outcome is significantly different from what was expected or considered appropriate.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "Situational irony, sometimes called irony of events, is most broadly defined as a situation where the outcome is incongruous with what was expected, but it is also more generally understood as a situation that includes contradictions or sharp contrasts. . . . An example would be a man who takes a step aside in order to avoid getting sprinkled by a wet dog, and falls into a swimming pool."
    (Lars Elleström, Divine Madness. Bucknell Univ. Press, 2002)


  • "Not all forms of irony are conscious, intentional or planned. For example, irony also occurs serendipitously through unintended and unexpected circumstances or through the evolution of situations. Situational irony focuses on the surprising and inevitable fragility of the human condition, in which the consequences of actions are often the opposite of what was expected."
    (David Grant, The Sage Handbook of Organizational Discourse. Sage, 2004)


  • "Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected. Every war constitutes an irony of situation because its means are so melodramatically disproportionate to its presumed ends."
    (Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory, 1975)


  • "Situational irony entails a certain incongruity between what a person says, believes, or does and how, unbeknownst to that person, things actually are. Oedipus vows to discover Laius' murderer, unaware that Laius was his father and that he himself is guilty of patricide. Whatever the precise nature of the incongruity involved in situational irony, verbal and situational irony loosely share a conceptual core of incongruity, often tending toward polar opposition, between two elements, such as a semblance of things and reality.

    "Dramatic irony may be further distinguished as a type of situational irony; it is simply when situational irony occurs in a drama. The incongruity is between what a dramatic character says, believes, or does and how unbeknownst to that character, the dramatic reality is. The example in the preceding paragraph is, then, specifically of dramatic irony."
    (David Wolfsdorf, Trials of Reason: Plato and the Crafting of Philosophy. Oxford Univ. Press, 2008)


  • "A Wimbledon commentator may say, 'Ironically, it was the year he was given a wild-card entry, and not as a seeded player, that the Croatian won the title.' The irony here refers, like linguistic irony, to a doubleness of sense or meaning. It is as though there is the course of events or human intentions, involving our awarding of rankings and expectations, that exists alongside another order of fate beyond our predictions. This is an irony of situation, or an irony of existence."
    (Claire Colebrook, Irony. Routledge, 2004)
Also Known As: irony of situation, irony of events, irony of behavior, practical irony, irony of fate, unintended consequences, irony of existence

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