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Text removed during rollback:

  1. Characterized by or constituting irony.
    a. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.
    b. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.
    c. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect.
  2. Given to the use of irony. See Also sarcastic.
  3. Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended

Breaking single definitions into multiple senses (and some subsenses) does not enhance the entry, but does (pointlessly) make linking translations harder; especially when all the meanings and subsenses say pretty much the same thing. Removing other's definitions and examples not justified on talk page or elsewhere. Could be another musical fan hiding behind an anonymous IP address, trying again. --Connel MacKenzie 04:09, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

I disagree with the above characterization of the removed text. No professional dictionary uses the sense 'extremely improbable' to describe irony or ironic. I defy you to find one that does. Second, you are wrong to say the entry is not enhanced. To confuse distinct meanings as 'pretty much the same thing' shows that you want a dictionary which is bland and colorless.
--Fred Nugen, 14:33, 30 March 2007 (UTC).
the current examples don't seem all that ironic. Maybe this entry could be improved by referencing the wikipedia article on irony, which seems quite good. 14:06, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
I too find the above definitions better than the one present definition. --King Mir00:43, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

Bruce Campbell and the chainsaw[edit]

I fail to understand why is it ironic. It reminds me of Alanis Morissette's Ironic (song). - 12:31, 29 October 2008 (UTC)


er, the entire statement about einstein doesn't even make sense. were it actually true, how is the behavior of an old man despite being anything when they were young constitute a contradictory notion? someone needs to find a better example of irony, as that one fails on many levels.

How about the common, though often considered incorrect, usage to indicate some coincidences?[edit]

Nowadays it's quite common for some people to say for example that someone dieing in a fire while wearing a t-shirt that says "Hot Stuff" or a coke(the drug) dealer getting arrested for stealing a can of Coke (the soft drink) etc is ironical, all sorts of things that technicly shouldn't be considered ironic (like pretty much everything mentioned in that Alanis song) many people still accept as somthing that could be described as ironic(al). Given the widespread acceptance of this "new" interpretation of the meaning among English speakers, don't you think the dictionary should include this as well (even if adding a note about the controversy regarding the correctness of it) ? --TiagoTiago 06:09, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

Yes it should be included. Previous efforts to add such a definition have been unintelligible IMHO. I think the contributors felt a need to lovingly expand in the definition on the distinctions they were making. As always, it is best to start with real examples, preferably that would stand for attestation. In order to distinguish the definition from the existing ones, the examples would probably have to be fairly long, including a great deal on context, and include a url for even more context. DCDuring TALK 11:56, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
I think a friend of mine described the "Alanis sense" succinctly when he said it meant "That's a bummer." --EncycloPetey 14:55, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

Nontraditional sense[edit]

From the entry:

  1. (informal, proscribed)[1][2] Both coincidental and contradictory in a humorous or poignant and very improbable way.
    It is ironic that Einstein, who was such a revolutionary young man, was reduced to irrational denial of quantum mechanics in his later years.

This sense was rolled into the general sense, because it is simply a specific kind of "characterized by irony", and the decision was made at WT:RFV to treat this sense at irony, not at every derived word. See RFV for details. - -sche (discuss) 02:27, 24 April 2012 (UTC)


  1. ^ Harris, Bob, "Isn’t It Ironic? Probably Not", 2008-06-30. Retrieved on 2011-01-06.
  2. ^ "Ironic", URL accessed on 4 November 2011.


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October 2011

Rfv-sense: Both coincidental and contradictory in a humorous or poignant and very improbable way.

It is about time that we get citations for this persistently inserted and never cited sense (and variants). DCDuring TALK 03:18, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

This reference isn't already good enough?: [1] L3lackEyedAngels 20:07, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
No. That is somebody's Weblog. Equinox 22:47, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
It's not somebody's weblog. It's The New York Times' Art Beat and Bob Harris, "a 13-time “Jeopardy!” contestant and a television writer", wrote the post in question. That said, we also have this passage, as quoted here from the fourth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:

The words ironic, irony, and ironically are sometimes used of events and circumstances that might better be described as simply "coincidental" or "improbable," in that they suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly. Thus 78 percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of ironically in the sentence In 1969 Susie moved from Ithaca to California where she met her husband-to-be, who, ironically, also came from upstate New York. Some Panelists noted that this particular usage might be acceptable if Susie had in fact moved to California in order to find a husband, in which case the story could be taken as exemplifying the folly of supposing that we can know what fate has in store for us. By contrast, 73 percent accepted the sentence Ironically, even as the government was fulminating against American policy, American jeans and videocassettes were the hottest items in the stalls of the market, where the incongruity can be seen as an example of human inconsistency.

I've already added this reference to irony and ironic. L3lackEyedAngels 03:08, 4 November 2011 (UTC)

Alright, I'm going to call this one as RFV-Passed. L3lackEyedAngels 18:41, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

But it isn't though. But I see what the sense is trying to explain. So-called misuses of the term ironic for things that are coincidental but not ironic. I was going to quote the sense of ironic to you, but it isn't there. Actually I think irony and ironic need some work. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:47, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
OED online has under irony 2. fig. A condition of affairs or events of a character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected; a contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and fitness of things. (In French ironie du sort.) They say nothing about "proscribed" but then, being British, they probably don't care about American heritage all that much... --Thrissel 16:09, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
OK, I will try to cite this in the next week or so. Others are welcome to help. I'm sure it's an attested meaning. - -sche (discuss) 21:36, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
This has been discussed a couple of times on the American Dialect Society list. I think it's generally well recognized that "ironic" means "coincidental." See, for example, Ron Butter's message saying this is recorded in the New Oxford American Dictionary, edition 2, and Wilson Gray's comment. --BenjaminBarrett12 (talk) 06:43, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
All very interesting, but where are the citations? MWOnline has seven senses and subsenses of irony and two senses of ironic (one of which is "relating to, containing, or constituting irony"). We have four uncited senses at [[irony]] and three at ironic, not coordinated with each other. Why can't we write and cite adequate coverage of all the senses of these words? DCDuring TALK 11:42, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
I've started gathering citations (of all senses): User:-sche/ironic. - -sche (discuss) 17:21, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Better you than I. I can say, apparently simultaneously both with and without irony, that I have never been comfortable with my own understanding of this word. DCDuring TALK 17:35, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Alright, take a look at what I have so far and see if this cites a nontraditional sense (perhaps one simpler and/or broader than our current one): [[User:-sche/ironic]]. - -sche (discuss) 22:26, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
The Online Etymology dictionary has this under irony: "Figurative use for "condition opposite to what might be expected; contradictory circumstances" is from 1640s." DCDuring TALK 23:03, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Garner's Modern American Usage, often somewhat picky about such matters, has no mention of any problem with irony. Both Garner's and MW Dictionary of English Usage refer to objections to the overuse of ironically as a sentence adverb, which objection also includes other sentence adverb disjuncts (we miss the sense), such as those in Category:English evaluative adverbs. I'm beginning to lose all respect for the AHD panel's opinions on usage. DCDuring TALK 23:22, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
This sense is from the 1640s? They (the AHD) have some nerve calling it ‘wrong’, if that's the case! - -sche (discuss) 04:13, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
That's what the man says. I wonder whether all or most senses of ironic and ironically should mostly be defined in reference to irony. The grammatical distinction between sentence and manner adverb might justify two "senses" for ironically. Some of the distinct senses at MWOnline are of the practice, a style, and an instance of the practice, analogous to differences of aspect in verbs. (Is there a term for this in nouns?) DCDuring TALK 05:11, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
I too think we should define "ironic" and "ironically" in reference to "irony", and only cover the many senses of the word there (at irony). - -sche (discuss) 07:43, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
I've reduced the content at ironic (and the content at ironically was already minimal) per the preceding discussion. We can handle the various kinds of irony at, well, irony. - -sche (discuss) 02:30, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
I've tried to (re)define the last sense of [[irony]] based on the citations and guided by this conversation. What do you all think? - -sche (discuss) 03:52, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
My feeling is that "unexpected and coincidental" define this meaning. I doubt that humor or poignance need to be mentioned; I think those are more associated with the traditional meanings (definitions 1 and 2). See also the example from on that page where neither humor nor poignance are involved. --BenjaminBarrett12 (talk) 17:38, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
This has been cited ([[User:-sche/ironic]]); I am closing the discussion. The definition can be tweaked as needed. - -sche (discuss) 05:17, 25 May 2012 (UTC)

The information previously at User:-sche/ironic has been moved to the citations pages of irony, ironic and ironically. - -sche (discuss) 05:50, 30 July 2012 (UTC)