That's Not Ironic!

It's only a coincidence

Definition Of Irony

  • Both coincidental and contradictory in a humorous or poignant and extremely improbable way
  • A statement that, when taken in context, may actually mean the opposite of what is written literally
  • The use of words expressing something other than literal intention, notably as a form of humor
  • A meaning (often contradictory) concealed behind the apparent meaning of a word or phrase
  • A state of affairs that is the reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result

Definition of Coincidence

  • The noteworthy alignment of two or more events or circumstances without obvious causal connection
  • Correspondence in nature or in time of occurrence
  • When something uncanny, accidental and unexpected happens

George Carlin on Irony

Irony deals with opposites; it has nothing to do with coincidence. If two baseball players from the same hometown, on different teams, receive the same uniform number, it is not ironic. It is a coincidence. If Barry Bonds attains lifetime statistics identical to his father’s it will not be ironic. It will be a coincidence. Irony is "a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result." For instance:

  • If a diabetic, on his way to buy insulin, is killed by a runaway truck, he is the victim of an accident. If the truck was delivering sugar, he is the victim of an oddly poetic coincidence. But if the truck was delivering insulin, ah! Then he is the victim of an irony.
  • If a Kurd, after surviving bloody battle with Saddam Hussein’s army and a long, difficult escape through the mountains, is crushed and killed by a parachute drop of humanitarian aid, that, my friend, is irony writ large.
  • Darryl Stingley, the pro football player, was paralyzed after a brutal hit by Jack Tatum. Now Darryl Stingley’s son plays football, and if the son should become paralyzed while playing, it will not be ironic. It will be coincidental. If Darryl Stingley’s son paralyzes someone else, that will be closer to ironic. If he paralyzes Jack Tatum’s son that will be precisely ironic.

Types Of Irony

Verbal irony
is a disparity of expression and intention: when a speaker says one thing but means another, or when a literal meaning is contrary to its intended effect. An example of this is sarcasm.
Dramatic irony
is a disparity of expression and awareness: when words and actions possess a significance that the listener or audience understands, but the speaker or character does not.
Situational irony
is the disparity of intention and result: when the result of an action is contrary to the desired or expected effect. Likewise, cosmic irony is disparity between human desires and the harsh realities of the outside world (or the whims of the gods). By some definitions, situational irony and cosmic irony are not irony at all