Tuesday, May 4, 2010




1 : a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain
2 a : a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual b : the use or language of sarcasm

Way to go, Miriam-Webster. Good job choosing this for the word-of-the-day. No, I'm serious, this is great. I don't think I could have thought of a broader subject to have to write about.

(get it?)

So. I want to talk about three closely related words that are often misused and, in fact, all appear in the above definition.

One: SARCASM, already defined above (in case you didn't notice).

Two: satire \SAT-ahyr\ n. the use of irony, sarcasm, or ridicule in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.

Three: irony \AHY-ruh-nee\ n. the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning

I am reminded of Winona Ryder's interview in Reality Bites, during which she spaces on the definition of irony, only to be shot down by greasy Ethan Hawke, who can retain this definition but not his job at a newsstand.

Here is what I can cull from lining these three ideas up against each other:

Irony is the skill, satire is the act and SARCASM is the intent.

An analogy:

Irony is to my rich bastard of an oral surgeon as satire is to him pulling my tooth as SARCASM is to that rich bastard trying to ultimately sell me on a $4,000 implant.

Yeah. My mouth feels really great right now. Seriously, it's awesome. I've never felt better. I love having a gaping hole in my jaw and a perpetual bad taste in my mouth.

I know, I'm laying it on thick, but that's the point.

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