AskDefine | Define sarcasm

Dictionary Definition

sarcasm n : witty language used to convey insults or scorn; "he used sarcasm to upset his opponent"; "irony is wasted on the stupid"; "Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own"--Johathan Swift [syn: irony, satire, caustic remark]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From sarcasmus, from , from ‘gnash the teeth (in anger)’, from ‘flesh’.

Pronunciation

/ˈsɑːkæzəm/

Noun

  1. A form of humor that is marked by mocking with irony, sometimes conveyed in speech with vocal over-emphasis.
  2. An act of sarcasm.

Translations

See also

Extensive Definition

Sarcasm is stating the opposite of an intended meaning especially in order to sneeringly, slyly, jest or mock a person, situation or thing. It is strongly associated with irony, with some definitions classifying it as a type of verbal irony intended to insult or wound. Sarcasm can also be used in a humorous or jesting way depending on the intent of the person speaking.

Usage of sarcasm

Sarcasm is used most oftentimes in a humorous manner, but can also express annoyance or anger. It is often used as proxy to other forms of expression. For example, instead of becoming angry and yelling at someone in a conflict, a person might choose to use sarcasm as an alternative.
Sarcasm may be used in many different circumstances, from ordinary conversation to the debate floor. Sarcasm is most often used to tear down others' arguments.

Highlighting sarcasm in written form

Sarcasm can be difficult to grasp in written form. To prevent this some people emphasize words with italics, bold, capitalization, and/or underlining (e.g. that’s just great); sarcastic comments on the Internet with an emoticon, such as ^o); or surround them with a made-up markup language tag, e.g. *sarcasm*,[sarcasm][/sarcasm], <sarcasm> or <snicker>.
Writers in the UK and some other countries have adopted the use of (!) (An exclamation mark in parentheses) following speech in which sarcasm or irony is perceptible via the tone of voice, a punctuation mark which is very regularly seen in subtitles.

Tactics

Exaggeration

"Shut up, will you?" "Oh, I'm sorry, Your Highness, should I go get you your coffee and tea now?"
In this case it is implied that the first person was treating the second like a servant. Instead of directly pointing this out, however, the second person plays the part, so to speak, in the situation created by the first person.
This is normally used where the two people in question do not see eye to eye. Therefore the second person does not like the tone and phrasing of the first person's remark. Thus, the second person uses sarcasm to make fun of the first person to amuse themselves, and any possible bystanders who share the same feeling towards person one.
"If you're going to be like that, I can play that part too."

Inversion of truth

"Do you think the ground is wet?" "No, the ground is completely dry."
In this situation it has just rained, meaning the ground is obviously not dry, so what the second person said implied that the first was asking a stupid question with an obvious answer.
"What do you think?!"
Another Example:
Person 1: We play Outdoor Games outside. Person 2: Wow, really? No way. That's amazing. Is it always like that?

Inversion of meaning

"Oh, Great."
The implication is that the meaning of what is said is the reverse of its actual meaning. In this case, "Oh, great" would normally mean a favourable circumstance, however in this case the speaker says it to mean a situation that is not favourable.
"I've just realised that my purse is missing. Brilliant."

Reductio ad absurdum

More on Reductio ad absurdum
"No, you don't NEED it, and that's final!" "We don't actually NEED anything except for food, air and water, so why don't we all go live in caves and spear large animals for food every day?"
The first person's argument was that the second person should not get something he/she didn't actually need. The second person carried this argument to its logical but absurd conclusion and presented it as a serious suggestion, implying that this is what the first person is trying to suggest.
This can be seen as being Flippant, depending on the situation.
"Your argument has far-reaching consequences and implications which you have not considered."

The obvious alternative

"Shut up!" "I wasn't saying anything!" "Yeah, I was hallucinating."
The first person felt that the second person had been talking, while the second person disagreed. Taken to its logical conclusion, this would mean that the first person was wrong - yet the first person did experience the second person talking, so the obvious way out is that he was hallucinating. However, because of the sarcasm used by the first person, they imply that they still believe that the second person was actually talking but they do not wish to argue the matter.
"That's what you're trying to say?"

Past Experience

"I'm an expert at this sort of thing!" "Yes. Like you expertly drove into the wall last time you did that."
This case imagines that two people are driving. The first person is claiming that they are very good or skilled in the task, whereas the second person is doubting the first's ability. Therefore the second person uses a reference from a past experience to validate their point.
This sarcasm is mainly used between people who know each other personally. However if the mistake or blunder a person did is very famous then that maybe used in the sarcasm, even when the two people do not know each other personally.
"Knowing what you're like, I would rather do it myself."

Notes

Anote lead"Sarcasm" appeared in English in 1579, from Late Latin "sarcasmos," in turn from Hellenistic or Medieval Greek "sarkasmos," and ancient Greek σαρκάζω (sarkazo, meaning 'to tear flesh'). (In ancient Greek the word for this idea was instead χλευασμός). Irony is closely associated with sarcasm, although Socrates, considered the father of dissembling irony, was not sarcastic. Sarcasm is frequently referred to as the "lowest form of wit" (a quote from Oscar Wilde, who was of course being sarcastic himself).
sarcasm in Danish: Sarkasme
sarcasm in German: Sarkasmus
sarcasm in Spanish: Sarcasmo
sarcasm in French: Sarcasme
sarcasm in Galician: Sarcasmo
sarcasm in Indonesian: Sarkasme
sarcasm in Italian: Sarcasmo
sarcasm in Hebrew: סרקזם
sarcasm in Hungarian: Szarkazmus
sarcasm in Macedonian: Сарказам
sarcasm in Dutch: Sarcasme
sarcasm in Norwegian: Sarkasme
sarcasm in Portuguese: Sarcasmo
sarcasm in Russian: Сарказм
sarcasm in Simple English: Sarcasm
sarcasm in Finnish: Sarkasmi
sarcasm in Swedish: Sarkasm
sarcasm in Chinese: 讽刺

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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