Verbal Irony: Types
Critical Concepts Verbal Irony Verbal irony is a figure of speech. The speaker intends to be understood as meaning something that contrasts with the literal or usual meaning of what he says. The different sorts of discrepancy between the meaning of what is said and what is in fact on the particular occasion meant with it give rise to different kinds of verbal irony: In sarcasm, the two stand in opposition. Example: Mother comes into the TV room and discovers her 11-year-old watching South Park instead of doing his homework, as he was set to a dozen minutes ago. The term comes directly into English from the Greek sarkasmos, which in turn derives from the ugly verb sarkazsein, "to tear the flesh" (used of dogs). Example: "My, you've certainly made a mess of things!" In overstatement, the meaning that ordinarily attaches to what is said is an exaggeration of what the speaker uses it to mean. Well, if he literally died, we should be pretty spooked, because we're face to face with a corpse!