Irony and Fallacy
Kinds of Sentences

What are some examples of irony?

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Answered 2016-07-27 01:55:40

The word "irony" is among the most commonly misused (and misunderstood) words in the English language. Most people think that irony means a juxtaposition of opposites, as in:

  • It was ironic that the fire station burned down.
While this sentence has some element of irony in it, it is not really ironic, and does not portray the full and correct meaning of the word irony. True irony involves some form of deceit, duplicity, or hypocrisy, be it intentional or accidental.

The question calls for examples of irony. This answer provides many examples of irony (each bulleted item is an example of irony), and explains the different ways in which they are ironic.

The most common form of irony is when the spoken words do not convey the underlying meaning. For example, it would be ironical for you to say:

  • He is as smart as a soap dish

Because if your audience did not know what a soap dish was, or how smart it was (not), they might interpret the statement as a compliment, whereas the underlying meaning you intended to convey is an insult. This example is not a very skillful use of irony, because everyone knows what a soap dish is. Irony is much more successful when subtly applied, as in:

  • I have no doubt your theatrical performance will receive the praise it so richly deserves.

Such a statement is meant to both flatter and insult the recipient at the same time, because the intended recipient infers the statement to be a compliment, whereas everyone else in the room understands the underlying insult hidden within the statement.

In another example, suppose an employee says to his boss in a large meeting with all his co-workers:

  • Sir, may I say you are as smart as Einstein ever was.

But now consider that everyone in the room - except the boss - knows that the employee has a dog named Einstein, and that dog was the real intent of of the employee's named reference. This would be exquisitely ironic, because the boss would truly believe the employee's statement to be high praise, whereas everyone else would understand the statement for the ribald insult it was meant to be.

Irony can appear in other forms. It can be circumstantial or accidental. For example:

  • An ambulance driver rushes to the scene of an accident, only to run the victim over, because the victim crawled into the middle of the street in the darkness of night.

This is an example of irony since, in this circumstance, the ambulance driver was (accidentally) duplicitous - while he stated one intention, his actions (accidentally) conveyed the complete opposite outcome.

Irony can be situational. For example:

  • In an effort to restrict viewership of a morally offensive movie, the city council bans exhibition of the movie in theaters. By banning the movie, the city council creates such a heightened awareness of the movie, that more people download and view pirated copies of the movie over the internet - specifically because it was banned - than would have viewed it in the theaters to begin with.

This example is ironic, because the city council achieved the exact opposite effect of what it expressly set out to accomplish.

Irony can be fateful. For example:

  • In 1912 the Titanic was touted as "100% unsinkable", and yet the ship sank on its maiden voyage.

In this example, the stated intent and the result were diametrically opposed. Similarly, in another example:

  • In 1981, while standing next to his car, President Ronald Regan was hit in the chest by a bullet fired by John Hinkley Jr. In fact, Hinkley's bullet completely missed President Reagan, but then ricocheted off the car's bulletproof window, and struck President Reagan in the chest.

This example is ironic, because the very technology that was intended to protect President Reagan contributed to his injuries.

Irony can be dramatic. For example:

  • In the movie "The Usual Suspects", the US Customs officer Dave Kujan (played by Chazz Palminteri) interviews a feeble, disabled witness, Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey), whereas in fact Verbal Kint was none other than Keyser Söze, the mythically legendary ruthless underworld mass murderer.

This example is ironic because the character Kint feigns his disability and timidity so convincingly that Kujan never suspects Kint is anything except a dumb, second rate, crippled criminal until after it is too late.

  • In the movie Roxanne, Charlie Bales (Steve Martin) writes letters for Chris McConnell (Rick Rossovich), who then sends the letters to Roxanne Kowalski (Daryl Hannah) and Roxanne falls in love with Chris.

This is ironic because Roxanne falls in love with Chris because of Charlie's duplicitous ministrations.

Other examples from our users of irony (to differing degrees):

  • "Sir, may I say you are as smart as Einstein ever was."But now consider that everyone in the room - except the boss - knows that the employee has a dog named Einstein, and that dog was the real intent of of the employee's named reference. This would be exquisitely ironic, because the boss would truly believe the employee's statement to be high praise, whereas everyone else would understand the statement for the ribald insult it was meant to be.
  • Jonathan Swift uses irony in "A Modest Proposal" when he suggests '-the eating of babies as a solution to overpopulation and starvation.
  • The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive. - Robert Heinlein quotation
  • Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice begins with the proposition "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
  • An old man turned ninety-eight. He won the lottery and died the next day... of chronic emphysema from inhalation of the latex particles scratched off decades' worth of lottery tickets.
  • A death row pardon two minutes too late... because the governor was too busy watching Dead Man Walking to grant clemency any earlier.
  • A traffic jam when you're already late... to receive an award from the Municipal Planning Board for reducing the city's automobile congestion by 80 percent.
  • Meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife... who happens to be the psychiatrist you recently hired in hopes of improving your luck with the opposite sex.
  • An author describes a person laughing at someone who trips --- then the person who laughed trips.
  • A sign reads Always Open with the word Closed beneath it.
  • A business with motto We Always Succeed went bankrupt. - situational irony
  • Alanis Morrisette's song "Ironic"? Actually, the song has no examples of irony. They are just examples of things that aren't good. However, because the song title is "Ironic" and actually contains no example of irony, the song itself is ironic. The contents are the opposite of what you expect it to be about.
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Answered 2020-07-21 10:34:17

A car ride service called Yellow cab that is painted red.

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