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What Is Irony?

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What is irony?Irony is the interruption or disruption of an established or expected discourse.  (This definition might not seem immediately helpful, but bear with me.)   Let's begin with a simple example of verbal irony.  You and a friend are looking out the window on a cold and rainy day.  Your friend says, "Beautiful weather."   Your friend is being ironic.  In the context, the "expected discourse" is "what terrible weather!"  You assume that what your friend "really" means is that the weather is terrible because that is what you would expect him to say.  In fact, some people claim that "saying the opposite of what you mean" is a definition of verbal irony.  However, it is rare that the intended meaning of an ironic statement is exactly the opposite of what is said.  Irony is almost always ambiguous (see Do No Harm:  Avoid Irony).


Verbal, situational and dramatic irony There are three different kinds of irony:  verbal irony, sit…