Irony vs. Satire

Difference Between Irony And Satire


Another form of humor and wit is irony—a remark or situation that means the opposite of what it appears to mean. A good example of irony is using “Tiny” as a nickname for a gigantic person.

Understatement is a type of irony in which something is represented as much less than it actually is. Saying that Babe Ruth was a fairly good ballplayer is an example of understatement. A person not realizing that his or her “leg was being pulled” might respond by saying, “Fairly good! Are you kidding?”

The opposite of understatement is overstatement, or exaggeration. For example, a person who comes home after a hard day at work and says “I’m dead” is, of course, exaggerating. Such exaggeration in speaking or writing is called hyperbole.

Irony is found in the works of many writers, past and present. One writer who made excellent use of irony was Mark Twain. Some of Twain’s best-known observations include:

“All the modern inconveniences.”

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.”

“Let us be thankful for the fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.”


Satire, both a specific literary genre and a literary manner. In its more frequent sense, satire is a literary manner in which vices and crimes of a person or an institution are held up to mockery or contempt, with the intention of correcting them. This manner may be present in many art forms and may employ many methods.

The word satire is derived from the Latin (lanx) satura (“full plate”; “plate filled with various fruits”.  Satire is often comic but its object is to evoke not a sheer laughter but laughter for a corrective purpose. It always has a target—such as pretense, falsity, deception, arrogance—which is held up to ridicule by the satirist’s unmasking of it. Because the satirist usually cannot speak openly or does not wish to do so, he chooses means that allow him to utter the unspeakable with impunity. His viewpoint is ultimately that of the cold-eyed realist, who penetrates sham and pretense for a didactic purpose. The portrayals generally are at variance with outward appearances, but they contain recognizable truth, and it is this truth that gives the satirist his license to attack.




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