Posted by: episystechpubs | May 2, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Irony

“A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.”

What is irony? According to Google, the brief answer is that it is “the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.”

But there are actually three types of irony: verbal, situational, and dramatic. Here is a brief definition for each type, along with some examples, from Flocabulary:

Verbal irony occurs when a speaker’s intention is the opposite of what he or she is saying. For example, a character stepping out into a hurricane and saying, “What nice weather we’re having!”

Situational irony occurs when the actual result of a situation is totally different from what you’d expect the result to be. Sitcoms often use situational irony. For example, a family spends a lot of time and money planning an elaborate surprise birthday party for their mother to show her how much they care. But it turns out, her birthday is next month, and none of them knew the correct date. She ends up fuming that no one cares enough to remember her birthday.

Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows a key piece of information that a character in a play, movie or novel does not. This is the type of irony that makes us yell, “DON’T GO IN THERE!” during a scary movie. Dramatic irony is huge in Shakespeare’s tragedies, most famously in Othello and Romeo and Juliet….

Why Writers Use It: Irony inverts our expectations. It can create the unexpected twist at the end of a joke or a story that gets us laughing—or crying. Verbal irony tends to be funny; situational irony can be funny or tragic; and dramatic irony is often tragic.

Back to the initial joke, the irony is that the word “hyphenated” has no hyphen, while the word “non-hyphenated” does have a hyphen.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services


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