On what basis is an expression with an opposite meaning classified under the three types namely sarcasm, satire and irony?

How do sarcasm, satire and irony different from one another?

I need examples too, please.


Sarcasm and satire are related to each other and share some similarities with irony(quite specifically,verbal irony).

Sarcasm is using wit and/or irony to be mocking or to be humorous.The effect of sarcasm is felt because of three things: timing, tone and context. If an expression is totally counter-intuitive and has great wordplay and is basically cutting if you think through it, that is basically sarcasm. An example could be:

It may have escaped your notice, but life isn't fair

Sounds familiar? It should. It's Severus Snape from Harry Potter, with his cutting wit defaming Harry.

Satire, on the other hand is mocking of politicians, countries or society using a lot of wordplay.

Americans will always do the right thing, after exhausting every other possible alternative.

This is an easy one too-Churchill. One can notice the subtle satire in his statements, and he was known for both his sarcasm and satirical wit.

Irony is easy: using words to convey the opposite of what you mean. While it shares similarities with Sarcasm and Satire, the only difference is the intent. Irony is not as mocking and depends more on context.

You could win an award for keeping your room clean

This is what a mother could say to her child with respect to a disorganized room.

Hope this helps!


They are related, but have different scope, qualities, and nuance.

Sarcasm: Can simply be a statement that is insincere. One can be sarcastic without being ironic, although it often overlaps in modern English usage. (Contemporary teen sarcasm is typically ironic, saying the opposite of what they mean.)

Irony: When the literal meaning is counter to the intended meaning. Also dramatic irony, when the audience is aware that a character's words and actions are ironic, but the character is not. Oedipus Rex is dramatic irony, where the murderer he investigating is himself.

Satire: Satire require imitation. Taking an actual passage, story, image and skewing the meaning to mock the subject. Satire can also involve purely invented material about a subject or person, typically where the lampooning is meant to be obvious.* Often used for social critique, which is a basis for its protected status.

Sarcasm: A sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt. Now usually in generalized sense: Sarcastic language; sarcastic meaning or purpose. OED. Irony: The expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. (dramatic) An outcome cruelly, humorously, or strangely at odds with assumptions or expectations. OED. Satire: satirical utterance; a speech or saying which ridicules and criticizes a person, thing, or quality. OED.

*Satire is specifically protected by the first amendment in the United States in regard to public figures. There was a famous lawsuit: Hustler Magazine v. Falwell

  • Thanks a lot for your clarification. Aug 6 '19 at 1:29
  • @BaskaranSoundararajan I added an example of dramatic irony, and will likely add an example of common irony. Good question!
    – DukeZhou
    Aug 6 '19 at 2:08

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