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sarcasm Line breaks: sar|casm
Pronunciation: /ˈsɑːkaz(ə)m/

Definition of sarcasm in English:


[mass noun]
The use of irony to mock or convey contempt: she didn’t like the note of sarcasm in his voice
More example sentences
  • Watch out for scorn, sarcasm, ridicule and contempt and inappropriate humour.
  • There are jokes and smatterings of sarcasm and irony in Register stories but these aren't for you.
  • We can only presume that the index does not account for such complex concepts as sarcasm and irony.


Mid 16th century: from French sarcasme, or via late Latin from late Greek sarkasmos, from Greek sarkazein 'tear flesh', in late Greek 'gnash the teeth, speak bitterly' (from sarx, sark- 'flesh').

  • The words of a sarcastic person are ‘biting’, and it is the idea of biting into the flesh that is behind sarcasm. The word came into English in the mid 16th century from French, and is based on Greek sarkazein ‘to tear flesh’, which also came to mean ‘to gnash the teeth, speak bitterly’. Sarcophagus (Late Middle English) has a similar history. The original Greek meant ‘flesh-eating’, and was formed from sarx ‘flesh’, the root also of sarcoma (mid 17th century), and -phagos ‘eating’. Sarcophagi were originally made of a type of stone that the ancient Greeks believed consumed the flesh of any dead body in contact with it.

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