Definition of sardonic in English:

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Pronunciation: /särˈdänik/


Grimly mocking or cynical: Starkey attempted a sardonic smile
More example sentences
  • You can bet, though, that the Frenchman has allowed himself a sardonic smile.
  • I mean, he had a lot of sardonic, sarcastic things like that to say and to make fun of himself, and so forth.
  • The play has moments of sharp humour, mostly emanating from the sardonic Jean.
mocking, satirical, sarcastic, ironical, ironic;
cynical, scornful, contemptuous, derisive, derisory, sneering, jeering;
scathing, caustic, trenchant, cutting, sharp, acerbic



Pronunciation: /särˈdänək(ə)lē/
Example sentences
  • ‘Yes, it's too eclectic, that's the problem,’ he says sardonically.
  • It is moments like these that make the audience chuckle sardonically at these ignorant concepts, hitting home the realization of the tragic consequences that resulted from them.
  • Here he imagines a New Yorker sardonically addressing his weekend hostess.


Pronunciation: /-ˈdänəˌsizəm/
Example sentences
  • Their implicit ferocity, however, has been tempered by humor, sardonicism, even understatement, yet the transforming anger of his decency and moral imperative informs everything between the lines.
  • With his trademark sardonicism, he reflected upon the elaborate systems of belief that provide meaning to human existence in general, and impetus for creative activity in particular.
  • The six-step breakbeat boogie combines with the suspicious brass of 50s cartoons and dazes Doom's creatures with its blatant sardonicism.


Mid 17th century: from French sardonique, earlier sardonien, via Latin from Greek sardonios 'of Sardinia', alteration of sardanios, used by Homer to describe bitter or scornful laughter.

  • The Greek epic poet Homer, of the 8th century bc, used the word sardanios to describe bitter, scornful laughter. Later Greeks and Romans did not really understand the reason for this word and decided it must be sardonios ‘Sardinian’ and refer to a ‘Sardinian plant’ which produced facial convulsions resembling horrible laughter, usually followed by death. English adopted sardonic in the mid 17th century to refer to grimly mocking or cynical smiles, grins, and looks as well as to laughter. The island of Sardinia also gave us the name of the sardine (Late Middle English), the small fish which was once common off its shores—the Latin source of the word, sarda, is probably from the Greek name for the island Sardō.

Words that rhyme with sardonic

anachronic, animatronic, bionic, Brythonic, bubonic, Byronic, canonic, carbonic, catatonic, chalcedonic, chronic, colonic, conic, cyclonic, daemonic, demonic, diatonic, draconic, electronic, embryonic, euphonic, harmonic, hegemonic, histrionic, homophonic, hypersonic, iconic, ionic, ironic, isotonic, laconic, macaronic, Masonic, Miltonic, mnemonic, monotonic, moronic, Napoleonic, philharmonic, phonic, Platonic, Plutonic, polyphonic, quadraphonic, saxophonic, siphonic, Slavonic, sonic, stereophonic, subsonic, subtonic, symphonic, tectonic, Teutonic, thermionic, tonic, transonic, ultrasonic

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sar·don·ic

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