The ThinkTank Panel (of One) is a big fan of all things ironic. Therefore the ThinkTank Panel (of One) loves this blog post on how the word ironic is used incorrectly all the time.
The ThinkTank Panel (of One) has always been under the impression that the word “ironic” or irony refers to a contradiction or conflict, a paradox of sorts. For instance, an oxymoron in which you have 2 words of opposing meanings together such as sweet and bitter in the quintessential oxymoronic example, bittersweet is, by definiation ironic.
This blog post appeared on the website Dictionary.com. A quick search in the Dictionary.com dictionary for ironic yields the following entry:
containing or exemplifying irony: an ironic novel; an ironic remark.
coincidental; unexpected: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.
First of all “unexpected” is as sweepingly vague a definition as you could possibly get. It could mean anything, and therefore does us no good what-so-ever in narrowing down the proper usage of the word irony.
Nevermind that the blog post begins by saying that irony is not a coincidence, on the very same website that defines irony as “coincidental” A coincidence is a non-contradiction. In order to have a contradiction the elements at play must have some relationship to one another in order to come into conflict. The point of calling something a coincidence is to say that there is no relationship between the elements at play, the 2 events occurred simultaniously but completely seperately. For those of you in a statistics course; the coefficient r=0. There is no relationship, therefore no elements are in opposition or conflict. Ergo, by definition a coincidence is not irony. Now that is ironic!
The blog post goes on to give it’s own definitive definition of irony:
An ironic remark conveys a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning. So, in an ironic statement one thing is said, while another thing is meant.
For example, if you were trying to be ironic on a stormy, dreary day, you might say: “What glorious weather!”
The ThinkTank Panel (of One) and several other commenters on the blog post would consider that to be the definition of sarcasm. The fact that the blog post defines irony as sarcasm makes this a part/whole or chicken vs. the egg conundrum. Is irony sarcastic, or is sarcasm ironic? In the humble opinion of the ThinkTank Panel (ofOne) Sarcasm it’s self is ironic in that there is a contradiction between what is meant and the words that are actually spoken. But irony is not sarcastic because the conflict is appearant. Unless of course the word irony is used incorrectly, as the blog post says happens all too often, and the elements refered to are in fact not in conflict, and therefore the irony does not exist. The “use of the word ironic” in this situation could be construded as sarcastic, as the true condition of the elements is not irony but they were called irony anyway, which means that what was said was the opposite of what was meant. There is now conflict between the actual conditions that exist and the conditions that were declared to exist but actually do not exist. Ergo, the incorrect use of irony is in and of its self both ironic and sarcastic. Now that was unexpected!
Ergo, this blog post on irony is it’s self ironic, for as it attempted to curtail excessive use of the word ”ironic”, it defined irony as sarcasm. And sarcasm is a far more frequent occurance in everyday language than irony, thereby paving the way for an even greater abundance of “irony” usage in the common vernacular. The opposite of what the blog post author intended, has happened. Now that is ironic!
Now this ironic debate always convenes around 1 song. The ThinkTank Panel (of One) can't stand the song, or the singer, so you can take a listen and debate amoungst yourselves.