What is Irony?

Verbal Irony: The irony is a situation in the broadest sense in which what is seen on the surface or to be a case differs radically from what is seen in the case. Thus, it is an assumption of a situation that is considered which does not exist. Further, it is considered that irony is a situation in which the surface meaning of a situation and the underlying fact is said are not the same. Thus, in other words, it means the contrary to what is being meant.

The double audience plays an important role in the case of irony in which one party consists of the one that hears and shall not understand and another party that understands more than what reaches their ears. Other than this, there are other secondary meaning of irony as well that is incongruity that is seen between what is expected and what occurs in a situation. Thus, it is seen that even though there are various definitions of irony, yet, the meaning of all is similar to one another.

The term irony has been rooted in the Greek comic character Eiron who was a clever underdog who with his clever mind was always successful to boast over the character Amazon. This word was seen in the English language in the 16th century and was similar to that of French irony. However, the origin of modern literary irony was seen during the 18th century.

It was then that with the beginning of German Romanticism and expansion of French Literature that irony ceased to be situational and expanded to be endemic. Further, by the time of the twentieth century, it was seen that irony proved to be a master trope and proved to be an incongruity between the finite ego and a world that is seemed to be purposeless, deterministic and alien. Thus, the meaning and origin of irony were seen in every century in some way or the other till the time it became a part of modern humanity.

Types of Irony
Types of Irony

Types of Irony

Various types of irony exist in the world and are used in different situations such as classical irony, romantic irony, cosmic irony, verbal irony, situational irony and dramatic irony.

1. Classical irony

This irony is first in the list and refers to the situation when irony saw its origin in ancient Greek comedy and show the way classical rhetoricians outlined the term.

2. Romantic irony

It is yet another type of irony in which it shows a self-aware and self-critical type fiction. It is a type of attitude that is adopted by an author towards his work. This type of irony usually leads to self-consciousness and self-reflection of the type of work one does. This concept of irony has seen its origin by the German Romantic writer Karl Wilhelm Friedrich.

3. Cosmic irony

The cosmic irony is the third in number that shows a contrast between the absolute and the relative. This type of irony is expressed as the general irony of the world. According to this type of irony, it is considered that some superior power is intentionally creating an ironic situation in the life of the people and their minds.

4. Verbal irony

This irony is followed by another type of irony which is termed as verbal irony. This type of irony means a contradiction of what is stated and what is meant. This type of irony is the intentional outcome of the speaker who states something else and contradicts to their actual actions and emotions.

5. Situational irony

This type of irony is seen in situational presence in which discrepancy occurs between the expected situation and what the actual situation that happens. This type of irony occurs when an opposite situation takes place compared to what is expected.

6. Dramatic irony

The last type of irony is dramatic irony which is a popular one and is majorly seen in the works of art such as movies, books and other arts. This type of irony is seen when the audience seeing the work is aware of something that the characters in the work of art is not aware of. This is the most different type of irony that does not differentiate anything rather shows the hidden truth of a situation.

What is Verbal Irony?

One of the most commonly and recently used terms in irony is seen to be verbal irony which shows the sarcasm in a situation. The words sarcasm is usually used as an interchangeable term while describing verbal irony. This is because verbal irony means something opposite of what is stated and is somewhat similar to sarcasm in which a person means something else than what they state sarcastically.

However, sarcasm is seen to harm and cause pain to another person, while verbal irony does not create any harm. Moreover, it is seen that in a verbal irony there should be some indication that the speaker does not mean what he or she is stating. This indication can be received from the fact that there is some competing information and tone of voice that the speaker is using that represents that he or she is being verbally ironical.

Verbal irony is usually termed as a statement that is either been overstated or understated that the actual one. Moreover, in some cases, it also includes double entendre, sarcasm and rhetorical question. For knowing whether a stated statement has verbal irony it is important to examine the sentence closely to know whether there are double meaning or not.

There is various type of example that is seen on the verbal irony that helps in making the actual meaning of this term clear. Verbal irony is one of the excellent tools that is being used in writing trade and helps the readers to exercise and understand perceptions in a statement. For example, in a day work, one might state that the day was spectacular, however, in an actual underlying sentence it would be sarcastic.

In addition to this, there is another example also such as in a day someone states that they do not want to go out because it is too hot for them. However, in actual the weather is cold and they meant that it is way too cold and unbearable for them to go out. Thus these are some of the examples that show the actual meaning and circumstances that help know that the statement is sarcastic and ironic in the verbal sense.

The term verbal irony is highly significant in literature because it helps to prove that a reader or a listener needs to be attentive and understand the nuance of the statement that is being told. Thus, verbal irony helps in improving the understanding of a person and test their analytical skills. Various types of examples are seen in literature that proves to be pleasurable for the readers.

Further, stating a verbal irony statement is not easy and it helps in making a person to be a close narrator or speaker that is capable of distinguishing between actual sentences and its true meaning. In addition to this, it is seen that verbal irony has a long existence in literature since the time it has been written.

For example, in works of Shakespeare such as Romeo and Juliet in which he introduced both the families as a one that is alike in dignity. The readers, in the beginning, understood that the families might be a dignified one. However, it was realized later that he meant that both the families were undignified.

This shows that there are various kinds of examples about verbal irony in literature and this is the place where this term saw its origin. It is through reading literary works on the irony that many readers learnt about the meaning of verbal irony. This showed the way verbal irony is defined and the place from where it gained its importance.

Use and impact of Verbal Irony

The use and purpose of verbal irony are seen in many areas other than only literature and this helps in increasing the importance that verbal irony holds in the world. Verbal irony differs in some way of the other in different situations and can be used in a variety of circumstances. Some of the areas that one can find a huge use of verbal irony include televisions sitcoms and movies.

It helps in bringing levity in a situation and exposes the double meaning or sometimes prove to be fun. Verbal irony is seen in everyday life, in media, in literature and others where the situation is proved to be ironic. There are various areas in the media when the irony is used in some form or the other to represent a situation. For example, in a debate, the media person makes a verbal gesture that everyone can start the fight in this war room. However, in actual, they mean something else and points out that they can start with the debate.

Moreover, in various situation, the reporters make sarcastic statements about a person who has other meaning and resemble an example of verbal irony. The other place of use of verbal irony is seen in everyday life where people use the ironical statement to explain a situation sarcastically. For example, a person states that the bed is as soft as a brick in which he or she means that the bed is very hard. The person states the bed is hard and is stated in a taunting way.

However, verbal irony can only be used in a situation in which a person has to be engaged in a conversation. This is because only by being attentive a person can pick up the verbal irony. This is because until and unless a person is not attentive in a situation he or she will never understand when to use the verbal irony.

The effect of verbal irony on the readers varies from one person to another depending on the situation and story, however, it has a key role to play to help lead the story forward and understanding the meaning. Verbal irony helps in revealing the character personalities and motives of the person. This is because a person that uses irony frequently is considered as dishonest and a person who should not be trusted.

Further, it has an impact on the knowledge of the reader because in verbal irony a reader attains more knowledge about what is happening or what will happen than the characters. Thus, it helps in motivating the knowledge of the person by helping them improve their analytical skills. Further, through verbal irony, a person can gain moral and practical lessons. This is because such type of irony displays a disparity between what a character thinks and what transpires.

This helps in sparking strong feelings in the reader and serves as a platform to teach practical or moral lessons. Further, there is some surprising outcome of the use of verbal irony. In some cases, it helps in twisting the facts into an interesting one and helps in drawing attention to the unwanted biases of the reader.

This shows that the use of verbal irony has various kinds of impact on the people, their development, their understanding and analytical capabilities. Most of the impact on the person is positive with only one exception that is it helps in revealing the character of the person to be untrustworthy and harmful.


Among all the types of verbal irony, the first one is sarcasm that is a word that actually comes from the Greek word sarkasmos which means to tear the flesh. This word is used in place of verbal irony because it helps in stating the statement in a taunting one and tend to cut up the person or thing who are the target of such sarcastic remarks. The term sarcasm is a technical term and is stated in a rhetorical sense and helps in showing the speaker is being critical or is holistic in nature. However, the sarcasm is not always bitter and hostile in nature and also has positivity in them when it helps state some positive thing and cover the negative thing. The positivity and negativity of a sentence depend on the tone that is being used in a sentence. However, there is an argument that shows in some circumstances that sarcasm is actually not a type of verbal irony and differs from each other. It is stated that sarcasm helps in showing foolishness about the other person and is often harsher than the use of verbal irony. Thus, it can be stated that every verbal irony sentence can be sarcastic in nature, however, every sarcastic sentence cannot be verbal irony. This is because verbal irony is not necessarily used with the purpose of ridiculing a person. In a case you want help related to some other topics, you can also check with Assignment Help Australia.

Overstatement– this is yet another type of verbal irony in which whatever a person says is an exaggeration of what they actually mean from the statement. Some of the examples of words that are usually used in an overstatement are “literally”. Most of the people use this word to exaggerate a sentence and create verbal irony about what they are stating. Overstatement is still referred to in a Greek word hyperbole that has been formed before and means hyper to throw. This word is still used in some places to resemble the irony that is being created.

Understatement– the last type of verbal irony is an understatement in which a person understates what they actually mean. This is when a person usually minimizes the meaning of a sentence and state it in a way that it seems something less important than it actually is. One of the best examples of the word that is usually used in stating an understatement is “no big” which shows that whatever the case maybe it is not a big deal. Thus, such understatement is also a type of verbal irony that resembles a different meaning of what is being said.

This shows that verbal irony can be of various kinds depending on the type of sentence being used and the situation in which it is taking place. However, it is certainly important to imagine a situation and analyze it to understand whether there is an irony in a sentence. Further, such a sentence is harmful and morally bad to some extent and in some cases.

By Susan White

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