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Houghton Mifflin

i·ron·ic  audio  (-rnk) KEY  also i·ron·i·cal  (-rn-kl) KEY 

ADJECTIVE:
  1. Characterized by or constituting irony.
  2. Given to the use of irony. See Synonyms at sarcastic.
  3. Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended: madness, an ironic fate for such a clear thinker.


OTHER FORMS:
i·roni·cal·ly(Adverb), i·roni·cal·ness(Noun)
Usage Note:
The words ironic, irony, and ironically are sometimes used of events and circumstances that might better be described as simply "coincidental" or "improbable," in that they suggest no particular lessons about human vanity or folly. Thus 78 percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of ironically in the sentence In 1969 Susie moved from Ithaca to California where she met her husband-to-be, who, ironically, also came from upstate New York. Some Panelists noted that this particular usage might be acceptable if Susie had in fact moved to California in order to find a husband, in which case the story could be taken as exemplifying the folly of supposing that we can know what fate has in store for us. By contrast, 73 percent accepted the sentence Ironically, even as the government was fulminating against American policy, American jeans and videocassettes were the hottest items in the stalls of the market, where the incongruity can be seen as an example of human inconsistency.


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