Verbal Irony: Meaning and Significance in Literature


Many people often misunderstand the word “irony”. Sometimes, we use this word without even realizing what it actually means. Moreover, what is “verbal irony” in particular? Alongside various literary devices, you must have read about verbal irony during your classes in school. Furthermore, people tend to use these literary devices interchangeably and wrongfully at times. So, this blog by All Assignment Help would be a great read for you. If you want to clear up your confusion about verbal irony, then keep on reading. In addition to this, we will also learn to use it correctly in sentences with some examples.

What is Irony?

The irony is a situation in the broadest sense in which what is seen on the surface differs radically. Thus, it is considered to be a circumstance in which the surface meaning of a situation and the underlying fact are not the same. In other words, it means the contrary to what is being said. Moreover, the double audience is significant in irony because 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 meanings 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.

In addition to this, the term was seen in the English language in the 16th century and was similar to that of French irony. However, the origin of modern irony was seen during the 18th century. Furthermore, the history of the origin of irony is vast. German romanticism and expansion of French literature, it is inclusive of all of it. Therefore, to be a good writer you must understand the deep-rooted history of it. For that matter, you can hire someone to take your online class, through which you will not only learn about verbal irony but also other literary devices in the English language. Moreover, the expert teachers in these online classes will also educate you on how by the 20th century, verbal irony became a master trope and proved to be an incongruity between the finite ego and a world that seemed to be purposeless, deterministic and alien.

The 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. Let us read these one by one.

Classical irony

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

Romantic irony

It is yet another type of irony in which it shows a self-aware and self-critical type of fiction. Moreover, 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 in the German Romantic writer Karl Wilhelm Friedrich.

Cosmic irony

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 lives of the people and their minds.

Verbal irony

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

Situational irony

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

Dramatic irony

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

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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 word sarcasm is usually used as an interchangeable term while describing verbal irony. 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 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 ironic.

For students studying the English language, understanding literary devices can be a complex deal. Moreover, in particular, verbal irony is tough to understand. As a result, students often fail to rightfully use verbal ironies in their sentences and ends up with poor-quality work or essay that has been given to them to write. However, in order to avoid any such circumstance from happening, you can seek online assignment help. Here, experts will rightfully solve your paper using all the correct literary devices. While, in the meantime, you can understand verbal irony to the fullest. Hence, to help you understand it better, we have explained the term a little extra below! We hope you find it helpful.


Points to be Noticed About Verbal Irony

  • Verbal irony is usually termed as a statement that is either been overstated or understated by the actual one. Moreover, in some cases, it also includes double entendre, sarcasm and rhetorical questions.
  • It is one of the excellent tools that is being used in the writing trade and helps the readers to exercise and understand perceptions in a statement.
  • Furthermore, the term 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 tests their analytical skills.

However, if you wish to be a good writer who can differentiate between the actual sentences and their true meaning then you must learn verbal irony deeply. This might require you some extra English classes. But it can be challenging to manage your existing schedule and incorporate a new class into it, all at once. Thoughts like, who will take my online English class for me might linger around. To solve this query, you can hire an expert to take your class for you so that you can maintain a balance in your schedule.

Also, if you do not want to add an extra class to your schedule, we have a time-friendly and budget-friendly solution for you. There are a number of examples of verbal irony in the literature. So, all you have to do is, read literary works on irony and learn better about the meaning of verbal irony. Moreover, apart from being able to use it in sentences, you would also learn the way verbal irony is defined and the place from where it gained its importance.

Verbal Irony Examples

Writers often use verbal irony deliberately for the hint of comedy in their writings. Moreover, you are also using it every now and then without even realizing it. Let us understand this with the help of some examples.

  • When you say, “What a lovely day!” in the middle of a problematic situation.
  • Seeing your laptop isn’t working and saying “Wow! This is fantastic.”
  • After a bad day, tell your parents, “My favourite part of the day was when I missed my train and waited for the second one for half an hour.”
  • A website has scammed you in the name of helping with your academics and you are saying, “Wow! This is the best online coursework service I have ever used, for sure I am getting another one.”

Here, we learnt that, whenever we are intentionally using the opposite of the truth to make an impact, we are using verbal irony.

Uses 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 from the other in different situations and can be used in a variety of circumstances. Some of the areas where one can find a huge use of verbal irony include television sitcoms and movies.

Brings levity to situations

It helps in bringing levity in a situation and exposes the double meaning or sometimes proves 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 where 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 the war room. However, in actuality, they mean something else and point out that they can start with the debate.

Explains situation sarcastically

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

Used when the listener is active

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 verbal irony.

Reveals the character personalities

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 understand its meaning. Verbal irony helps in revealing the character personalities and motives of the person. This is because a person who uses irony frequently is considered dishonest and a person who should not be trusted.

Impact of the reader’s knowledge

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.

Sparks feelings in the readers

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 interesting ones and helps in drawing attention to the unwanted biases of the reader.

Therefore, we can say that the use of verbal irony has various kinds of impact on 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.

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Among all the types of verbal irony, the first one is sarcasm which 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 manner and tends to cut up the person or thing who is the target of such sarcastic remarks. Moreover, 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, sarcasm is not always bitter and hostile in nature and also has positivity in it 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.

Additionally, 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.


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. One of the examples of words that are usually used in an overstatement is “literally”. Most people use this word to exaggerate a sentence and create verbal irony about what they are stating. Overstatement is still referred to in the Greek word hyperbole which 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.


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 states it in a way that it seem 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 may be it is not a big deal. Thus, such understatement is also a type of irony that resembles a different meaning of what is being said.

Moreover, as a student, if you are unable to add a touch of sarcasm and humour to your writing, then it’s probably because you couldn’t fully understand verbal irony. So, let online assignment help US experts guide you with the same whilst you learn in-depth about this literary tool. Also, remember 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. Also, 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.


We hope that the blog helped you understand a lot about verbal irony. Here, we would conclude by saying that it is the most commonly used literary technique. People simply use it in everyday conversation. Moreover, you can also use it to create a tragic or humorous effect in your conversation or writing. However, you must use irony carefully and maintain the subtlety of delivery in order to make it effective. Because if you use it badly or wrong, listeners or readers might not understand what you are trying to convey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: 1 What is verbal irony in literature and examples?
Answer: 1
Whenever there’s a difference between the literal and lateral meaning of what you have said or written, we call it a verbal irony. For example, if there’s a hurricane happening outside and saying “What a lovey weather”, is an example of verbal irony.
Question: 2 What is another word for verbal irony?
Answer: 2
Some of the words that synonymously describe verbal irony are wit, repartee, sarcasm, humour, and satire.