- A Dictionary of Phony Phrases
- Scare Quotes
- What Is Irony?
Etymology:A term introduced to English criticism in 1833 by Bishop Connop Thirlwall in an article on Sophocles
Examples and Observations:
- Commander William T. Riker: Charming woman!
Lt. Commander Data: [voice-over] The tone of Commander Riker's voice makes me suspect that he is not serious about finding Ambassador T'Pel charming. My experience suggests that in fact he may mean the exact opposite of what he says. Irony is a form of expression I have not yet been able to master.
("Data's Day," Star Trek: The Next Generation, 1991)
- "In Reality Bites, Winona Ryder, applying for a newspaper job, is stumped when asked to 'define irony.' It’s a good question. Ryder replies, 'Well, I can’t really define irony . . . but I know it when I see it.' Really? . . .
"Irony requires an opposing meaning between what’s said and what’s intended. Sounds simple, but it’s not. A paradox, something that seems contradictory but may be true, is not an irony. The Times stylebook, which, believe me, can be harsh, offers useful advice:
"The loose 'use of irony and ironically, to mean an incongruous turn of events, is trite. Not every coincidence, curiosity, oddity and paradox is an irony, even loosely. And where irony does exist, sophisticated writing counts on the reader to recognize it.'"
(Bob Harris, "Isn’t It Ironic? Probably Not." The New York Times, June 30, 2008)
- "Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard."
(W. H. Auden, "The Unknown Citizen")
- "The simplest form of 'high relief' verbal irony is the antiphrastic praise for blame, for example the 'Congratulations!' we offer to the 'smart Alec' who has let the side down. . . . [Jonathan] Swift's Directions to Servants, his satire of the faults and follies of servants, takes the form of advising them to do what they too frequently already do and reproducing their lame excuses as valid reasons: 'In Winter Time light the Dining-Room Fire but two Minutes before Dinner is served up, that your Master may see, how saving you are of his Coals.'"
(Douglas Colin Muecke, Irony and the Ironic. Taylor & Francis, 1982)
Also Known As: rhetorical irony, linguistic irony