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From French sardonique[1], from Latin sardonius, from Ancient Greek σαρδόνιος (sardónios), alternative form of σαρδάνιος (sardánios, bitter or scornful laughter), which is often cited as deriving from the Sardinian plant (Ranunculus sardous), known as either σαρδάνη (sardánē) or σαρδόνιον (sardónion). When eaten, it would cause the eater's face to contort in a look resembling scorn (generally followed by death).[2] It might also be related to σαίρω (saírō, I grin).



sardonic (comparative more sardonic, superlative most sardonic)

  1. Scornfully mocking or cynical.
    He distances himself from people with his nasty, sardonic laughter.
    • (Can we date this quote by Sir H. Wotton and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      strained, sardonic smiles
    • (Can we date this quote by Burke and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      the scornful, ferocious, sardonic grin of a bloody ruffian
  2. Disdainfully or ironically humorous.
    • 1979, Carl Deroux, editor, Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History [Collection Latomus; 164], volume 1, Brussels: Latomus, OCLC 5900307, page 111:
      Another manifestation, significantly reaching its apogee in the midst of Antonine virtues, was the growing popularity of adoxographical exercises. Mock panegyrics were dashed off, not just by sardonic intellectuals such as Lucian, but also by trained courtiers and polished encomiasts of the stamp of [Marcus Cornelius] Fronto.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ sardonic” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.
  2. ^ Squires, Nick (2009-05-18), “Mystery of the 'sardonic grin' solved”, in The Telegraph[1], retrieved 2020-03-04