What is the Difference Between Irony, Satire, and Sarcasm

Irony, Satire, and Sarcasm may seem like close cousins, but there are a few differences between these rhetorical terms. If you aren’t sure what your friends and class fellows label your jokes to be, you might want to read till the end of this article. We explain the key differences between irony, satire, and sarcasm while giving you examples of each. Let’s get started.



In simple words, irony is something that happens in the complete opposite way of what was expected. People believe that the definition of irony will talk about bad luck or coincidence, but in reality it is closest to the insurrection of expected outcomes. In the literary genre, there are three clear types of ironies:

Verbal irony: this is when the character is mentioning something different from how they actually feel or mean. Socratic irony is a good example of verbal irony where someone plays ignorant to make the other person say things that will spark an argument.

Example: someone walking out in scorching hot weather and saying: “oh what a great day it is!”

Dramatic irony: dramatic irony arises when the audience knows more than the characters. The characters are doing things as per their knowledge, but the audience knows the reality which creates suspense. In stories of tragedy, dramatic irony is also known as tragic irony.

Example: the ending of Romeo and Juliet where the audience knows both characters are alive but the characters do not know. Thus, both Romeo and Juliet drink the poison.

Situational irony: this is when a situation turns out different than it was originally expected to happen. A good example of situational irony is a fire station catching fire.


SatireSatire is the use of irony, exaggerated words, humor or even ridicule to criticize someone’s flaws or stupidity. You must have witnessed excellent examples of satire in political writings or news shows. You make fun of people using satire by imitating and trying to expose their shortcomings. Nowadays, in shows like Saturday Night Live, people commonly use humor to expose politicians’ misdeeds or social injustice.

Examples of satire are picked from what you normally see in today’s shows and digital content:

Sketches: sketch comedy has become a common form of expression because it is lighthearted and sends the message across.

Political cartoons: political cartoons have been in the papers for as long as we know it, because they offer biting remarks on a political situation. These illustrations make a perfect commentary amidst any trending story or situation.


Sarcasm is the sharp utterance that is intended to cut with words or cause pain. A teacher talking to a student who always scores low marks and saying “you have outdone yourself again, haven’t you?” is an example of sarcasm. Sarcasm is intended to mock someone while downplaying their abilities. The way person does sarcasm is by saying something completely opposite than what they mean. In real world, the best way to identify sarcasm is by the tone of voice and mocking.

Three common examples of sarcasm will make the definition clearer:

When something bad happens on an already poorly unfolding day: “Yep, This is exactly what I wanted!”

When something is boring: “wow, I’m so elated to be in this for the next 2 hours”

When something is happening slowly: “Can you please do this more slowly, we have all life!”


At the end of the day, you should note that sarcasm and satire are types of expressions. Irony, on the other hand, is used in the context of situations. So you could say that irony is there by default whereas people make sarcasm and satire with effort.