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TitsMcGhee's avatar

Do you know the actual meaning of irony and get annoyed when people use it incorrectly?

Asked by TitsMcGhee (8255points) January 18th, 2009

Like Alanis Morrissette, honestly. I try to correct people, but I just want to hand out violation tickets to people who think that bad luck and unfortunate situations qualify as irony. Does anyone else get annoyed?

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33 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

1)Yes 2) No.

laureth's avatar

Yes. However, it makes me wonder what the difference is between a word being misused by almost everyone, and a definition that evolves.

Vinifera7's avatar

Can you elaborate? I don’t know how people misuse the word, and I couldn’t give less of a fuck about celebrities.

In the United States, irony is most often used to mean “an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.” It is far less often used as a synonym for sarcasm.

simone54's avatar

It’s ironic that you hate when people use it wrong.

laureth's avatar

@Vinifera7 – the Alanis Morrisette reference isn’t about a celebrity herself as much as it’s a reference to this song.

Also, I hate to reference Wikipedia much, but they have a pretty good definition. That whole “not the way you expected things to turn out” definition is what the word seems to be evolving into.

Blondesjon's avatar

Were you aware that the word ironic comes from the Latin words ‘iron’ meaning ‘to press clothes’, and ‘ic’ meaning ‘eww, I don’t want to press these clothes’ ?

@laureth…did you know that Alanis Morrissette is actually ancient Celtic for ‘mediocre’?

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

1) Yes 2)I don’t get annoyed. Lots of words start out with a “de-facto” definition only to be used however the speaker/writer/singer/fighter chooses to use them. Wld you gt annyd f i rmvd mst of the vwls frm my sntnce evn if you cld stll undrstnd it prfctly?

laureth's avatar

@Blondesjon – and her parents still named her that? No wonder she was so angry. ;)

Vinifera7's avatar

Thanks for the explanation. I see the point: It’s not really ironic that he died because he was 98 years old. If he had just turned 18 and died, then I guess it would sort of be ironic, but rather cruel to say so.

nikipedia's avatar

My roommate is getting a PhD in English and is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. She wasn’t entirely sure what the “actual” definition of irony is. I feel like that lets me off the hook.

laureth's avatar

Your roomie, the PhD candidate in English, didn’t know the definition of irony? That’s an outcome contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

Blondesjon's avatar

[sighs and begins heat-treating the wrinkles from his dress shirts]

Bri_L's avatar

Very good story and example gail!

Blondesjon's avatar

Read Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk.

don’t be mislead by the movie

gailcalled's avatar

And note what laureth has done. Show, not tell. (Nice to hear from you, Bri.)

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@simone54: No it isn’t, and that’s just the point! The dislike of the misuse of irony isn’t the opposite of what is expected; you wouldn’t expect me to like people misusing the word, would you?

@Vinifera7: Yeah, the lyrics of the song are more just shit luck, not irony.

asmonet's avatar

Holy god, yes.

Actually, in regards to the song Ironic, Alanis Morissette has said she is the ‘Queen of Malapropisms’. When a fan told her that nothing in her song was ironic and that made her song ironic, she agreed and figured it was the best explanation for it. There’s a whole wiki article on it. I’m ‘studying’ so you can look for it yourself. :-P

gailcalled's avatar

Complete this analogy;

Irony is to shit luck as elegance is to _________.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@asmonet: I knew there was a reason we were married :)

simone54's avatar

That was my joke.

susanc's avatar

… a bicycle.

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@simone54: Oh… sometimes I just miss it on the interwebs. I will definitely give a hearty laugh.

gailcalled's avatar

@Susanc: What did Gloria Steinem say about a woman without a man?

Vincentt's avatar

I’m starting to doubt whether I really know what irony means. I do, however, use the word for bad luck and unfortunate situations, but only because I’m miserably sadistic, so what might be bad luck or unfortunate for others is actually hilarious to me ;-).

I get more annoyed by people using the word literally as enforcement even though they don’t mean to say it literally happened, e.g. it was literally raining cats and dogs! (OK, I don’t know whether English people also do this, but it happens a lot in Dutch nowadays.)

Then again, I’m able to cope with that, too :P.

susanc's avatar

@Gail: You know what she said; you’re using me for a foil, knowing I’ll fall into line.

“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” That’s what she said.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

this is kind of tangential, but i have to share: @laureth, you kind of made my day. i have a class about the contemporary spanish novel, and the other day in it, the prof asked me to define irony. i said something about what you expect and what you don’t expect happens (i dont remember exactly and i kind of suck at translation anyway), and he completely shot me down. i didn’t volunteer – he called on me, and then his response to me answer was “si y no…..mmmmm no, ... no, no, no.” i was like…okay, well that’s what i thought it was about. sorry.

(@Vincentt, definitely yes! English-speakers do that all the time! like, every second – literally! (kidding!)

TitsMcGhee's avatar

@Vincentt: I hate when people misuse literally as well! People just think that they are using big, sophisticated words, when really they just sound silly.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I just found a new one for you concerning the word “literally”!

So I’ve seen people say something is literal, when it’s obviously figurative, but this was a new one:

I literally can’t afford to waste money.”—Since when has that expression ever been figurative? The world literal is so superfluous in that sentence, it made me laugh out loud.

morphail's avatar

This use of “irony” to mean “A condition of affairs or events of a character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected” is not new. It’s one of the meanings of the word. It’s been around since 1649.

1649 G. DANIEL Trinarch., Hen. V, cxcviii, Yet here: (and ‘tis the Ironie of Warre Where Arrowes forme the Argument,) he best Acquitts himselfe, who doth a Horse præfer To his proud Rider.

The use of “literally” to mean “figuratively” is also not new; it’s been attested since 1760 and is found in Dickens.

Vinifera7's avatar

“Literal” is literally the opposite of “figurative”.

Show me where “literally” has been used to mean “figuratively”.

morphail's avatar

‘Lift him out,’ said Squeers, after he had literally feasted his eyes in silence on the culprit. – Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby (1839)

And his eyes literally scoured the corners of the cell – Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading (1960)

…I literally blazed with wit – Thackeray, Punch, 1847

He literally glowed… – Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

Used figuratively, “literally” shows a change in meaning that has already happened to “really” – and “very”, which is from the Old French word for “true”.

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