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What's Sarcasm?

We often use or hear the word sarcasm a lot in our daily conversations. Most writers know the word 'sarcastic' but they may not be sure of its meaning. We are going to take care of that by learning everything there is to learn about sarcasm.

The definition of sarcasm

Sarcasm is a type of literary technique that entails the use of words to relay a meaning different from their surface meaning to mock someone. Sarcasm is usually used humorously. It is right to say sarcasm is a type of verbal irony because what is said is usually the opposite of what is meant.

The difference between sarcasm and verbal irony

Sarcasm and verbal irony are quite hard to tell apart. It’s common for some writers to confuse the two for each other. However, if you pay close attention to their structures, there is a slight but very important difference. We know that irony can simply be defined as the opposite of what we expect. Therefore verbal irony entails saying the opposite of what we expect. Sarcasm, on the other hand, entails saying words that have a different meaning to their surface meaning to criticize or mock someone humorously. Sarcasm is directed to a person, while verbal irony can apply to anything. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

(Example one)

Going for a picnic deep in the woods with your girlfriend, then your car runs out of gas even before you get to the spot you picked. You say, “What a great time and place to run out of gas! It’s just perfect timing!”

(Example two)

Going out for a picnic deep in the woods with your girlfriend, then your car runs out of gas even before you get to the spot you picked. Your girlfriend tells you, “How responsible of you to bring me deep in the woods without enough gas in your car. Oh! I guess maybe it is my fault that I forgot to tell you there is no gas station in the woods.”

For the first example, the guy is upset about his car’s gas running out and he says it ironically. For the second example, the guy’s girlfriend is upset about the car running out of gas and she expresses her disappointment sarcastically.

Other examples of sentences with the use of sarcasm

(Example three)

Showing up at a community cleaning event with a white T-shirt and a pair of white trousers, then your friend says to you, “Great choice of dress for an event like this. I too should certainly have dressed in all white when I knew I was coming to unblock the muddy trenches.”

(Example four)

Inviting three of your rowdy friends to your friend’s party, then your friend says to you, “How nice of you to invite these three. I think the party is going to end so well with them around.”

Types of sarcasm

Self-deprecating sarcasm

Juvenile sarcasm

Brooding sarcasm



Passive aggression



Dry sarcasm

Visual sarcasm

The uses of sarcasm

Writers can use sarcasm to add humor to their work.

Sarcasm can also be used to expose or reveal a character’s ignorance or level of ignorance.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya