Sarcasm

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This article is part of the Figures of Speech course. You may choose to follow it in a structured way, or read each item separately.

Sarcasm is, properly, the use of language to hurt the hearer's feelings ("a bitter gibe or taunt" - Lanham). So the footballer who cries "Good shot!" when his team-mate misses an open goal is not only ironic, but sarcastic as well. So is the schoolboy who says to his companion, as the teacher catches them, "That was a really clever thing to do." But if the teacher says "You are idle, dishonest and incompetent" she is being sarcastic without being ironic. (Some teachers, of course, use irony mixed with sarcasm as their main disciplinary method.)

Sarcasm can be confused with both irony and satire, not least because it often goes together with them.

The adjective is sarcastic, and the adverb sarcastically.