1

The meaning of the word "irony" is very confusing to me! Here are few examples:

So the irony is this: technology is freeing us from technology

The postmodern reply to the modern consists of recognizing that the past, since it cannot really be destroyed, because its destruction leads to silence, must be revisited: but with irony, not innocently. I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows he cannot say to her, "I love you madly" because he knows that she knows (and that she knows that he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. Still, there is a solution. He can say, "As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly.

Can anyone please explain me what "irony" exactly means?

Many many thanks in advance!

3

Oxford dictionary says:

irony: the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

Merriam-Webster defines irony as:

1: a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other’s false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony

2: a) the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning b) a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony c) an ironic expression or utterance

3: a) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result; an event or result marked by such incongruity b) incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play —called also dramatic irony, tragic irony

The use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to be funny.

A situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected.

The content below was taken from [thatsnotironic.com].(http://thatsnotironic.com/)

Irony deals with opposites; it has nothing to do with coincidence. If two baseball players from the same hometown, on different teams, receive the same uniform number, it is not ironic. It is a coincidence. If Barry Bonds attains lifetime statistics identical to his father's, it will not be ironic. It will be a coincidence. Irony is "a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result." For instance:

If a diabetic, on his way to buy insulin, is killed by a runaway truck, he is the victim of an accident. If the truck was delivering sugar, he is the victim of an oddly poetic coincidence. But if the truck was delivering insulin, ah! Then he is the victim of an irony.

If a Kurd, after surviving a bloody battle with Saddam Hussein's army and a long, difficult escape through the mountains, is crushed and killed by a parachute drop of humanitarian aid, that, my friend, is irony writ large.

Darryl Stingley, the pro football player, was paralyzed after a brutal hit by Jack Tatum. Now Darryl Stingley's son plays football, and if the son should become paralyzed while playing, it will not be ironic. It will be coincidental. If Darryl Stingley's son paralyzes someone else, that will be closer to ironic. If he paralyzes Jack Tatum's son that will be precisely ironic.

  • Welcome ..... :) – GrIsHu Dec 5 '13 at 6:35
  • I am not sure any of these definitions apply to the OP's second example. There is also a usage of "irony" related to the hipster subculture that seems slightly different than the ones presented here. – ignorantFid Jan 9 '14 at 17:31
2

According to Oxford dictionary, irony means

the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect:
‘Don’t go overboard with the gratitude,’ he rejoined with heavy irony

  • a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result:
    the irony is that I thought he could help me
    [count noun]: one of life’s little ironies
  • (also dramatic or tragic irony) a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions is clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.

Let's consider your example sentences.

So the irony is this: technology is freeing us from technology.

When we use technology, it is reasonable (at least it seemed to appear so to whoever said that) to think that we would keep using technology. But then, how could it freeing us from itself at the same time. And that is the irony.

The postmodern reply to the modern consists of recognizing that the past, since it cannot really be destroyed, because its destruction leads to silence, must be revisited: but with irony, not innocently.
Reflections on The Name of The Rose, by Umberto Eco.

It might be helpful to know that the context is about literature re-examination. To be specific it's about revisiting postmodern literature. Because this is written by Umberto Eco, who is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, we should not take his use of this irony lightly. In other word, I would not treat this use of irony the same way as used in the above example.

As Wikipedia lists 6 apparent types of irony: dramatic, cosmic, socratic, situational, verbal, and irony of fate. I believe that this use of irony in must be revisited with irony has the sense of socratic, which is used

when someone (usually a teacher) pretends to be stupid in order to show how stupid his pupils are (while at the same time the reader or audience understand the situation).

The phrase but with irony, not innocently also tells a lot. The revisiting would appear to be done innocently, but in fact not. It would rather be done in an ironic manner. Not just review it literally, but review it carefully and critically while still treating it at its face value first.


See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.