A figure of speech in which the intended meaning is
the opposite of that expressed by the words used; usually taking the
form of sarcasm or ridicule in which laudatory expressions are used to
imply condemnation or contempt.
with an and pl. An instance of this; an ironical utterance or expression.
fig. A condition of affairs or events of a
character opposite to what was, or might naturally be, expected; a
contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and
fitness of things.
In etymological sense: Dissimulation, pretence; esp.
in reference to the dissimulation of ignorance practised by Socrates as
a means of confuting an adversary ( Socratic irony).
4. (draft addition, 1993)
spec. in Theatr. (freq. as dramatic or tragic irony),
the incongruity created when the (tragic) significance of a character's
speech or actions is revealed to the audience but unknown to the
character concerned; the literary device so used, orig. in Greek tragedy.