Rachel Giora
Table of contents

What is irony? How does it differ from sarcasm and cynicism? According to Kreuz, irony may be used to comment on odd juxtapositions of events (e.g., the person who dies the day after winning a lottery; the memory expert who forgets where his car is parked); sarcasm is the use of irony to remind others of such juxtapositions (e.g., the friend who has not been helpful; the waiter who has not been attentive); cynicism refers to the chronic interpretation of events as ironic, and the expression of these events via sarcasm.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price.


Ackerman, P.B.
1981Young children’s understanding of a speaker’s intentional use of a false utterance. Developmental Psychology 17: 472–480. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1983Form and function in children’s understanding of ironic utterances. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 35: 487–508. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Attardo, S.
1996Humor theory beyond jokes: The treatment of humorous texts at large. In J. Hulstijn & A. Nijholt (eds.): 87–101.Google Scholar
1999Irony and indirect speech. Pragma99: International Pragmatics Conference on Pragmatics and Negotiation. Tel Aviv University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Bakhtin, M.M.
1981The Dialogic Imagination. University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
Barbe, K.
1995Irony in context. John Benjamins. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Bihrle, M.A., H.H. Brownell, J. Powelson & H. Gardner
1986Comprehension of humorous and non-humorous materials by left and right brain-damaged patients. Brain and Cognition 5: 399–411. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Booth, C.W.
1974A rhetoric of irony. University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Bredin, H.
1997The semantic structure of verbal irony. Journal of literary semantics XXVI(1): 1–20. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Brown, P. & S.C. Levinson
1987Politeness: Some universals in language use. Cambridge University Pressambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Brown, R.L.J.
1980The pragmatics of verbal irony. In R.W. Shuy & A. Shnukal (eds.) Language use and the uses of language: 111–127. Georgetown University Presseorgetown University Press.Google Scholar
Brownell, H.H., D. Michel, J. Powelson & H. Gardner
1983Surprise but not coherence: Sensitivity to verbal humor in right hemisphere patients. Brain and Language 18: 20–27. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Brownell, H.H., H.H. Potter, A.M. Bihrle & H. Gardner
1986Inference deficits in right hemisphere damaged patients. Brain and Language 27: 310–321. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Burgess, C. & C. Chiarello
1996Neurocognitive mechanisms underlying metaphor comprehension and other figurative language. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 11: 67–84. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Carston, R. & U. Seiji
(eds.) 1998Relevance theory. John Benjamins. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Capelli, C., N. Nakagawa & C. Madden
1990How children understand sarcasm: The role of context and intonation. Child Development 61: 1824–41. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Chiarello, C.
(ed.) 1988Right hemisphere contributions to lexical semantics. Springer-Verlag. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Clark, H.H.
1996Using language. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Clark, H.H. & R. Gerrig
1984On the pretense theory of irony. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 113: 121–126. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Coates, L.
1992A collaborative theory of inversion: Irony in dialogue. Paper presented at the International Communication Association, Miami.
Cole, P.
(ed.) 1981Radical Pragmatics. Academic Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Colston, H.L.
1997Salting a wound or sugaring a pill: The pragmatic functions of ironic criticism. Discourse Processes 23: 25–45. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Colston, H.L. & R.W. Gibbs
1998Analogy and irony: Rebuttal to “Rebuttal analogy”. Metaphor and Symbol 13(1): 69–75. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Colston, H.L. & S.B. Keller
1998You’ll never believe this: Irony and Hyperbole in Expressing Surprise. Journal of Psycholinguistics Research 27: 499–513. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Colston, H.L. & J. O’brien
1998Contrast effects in the pragmatic accomplishments of irony and understatement. Poster session presented at the meeting of the American Psychological Society, Washington, D. C.
Conti, D. & L. Camras
1984Children’s understanding of conversational principles. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 38: 456–463. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Crawford, M.
1995Talking difference: On gender and language. Sage.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Creusere, M.A.
1999Theories of adults’ understanding and use of irony and sarcasm: Applications to and evidence from research with children. Developmental Review 19: 213–161. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Cutler, A.
1974On saying what you mean without meaning what you say. In M.W. Lagaly , R.A. Fox & A. Bruck (eds.) Papers form the Tenth regional Meeting: 117–127. Chicago Linguistic Society.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Curcó, C.
1997The pragmatics of humorous interpretations: A Relevance-Theoretic approach. Unpublished Ph.D. diss. University College of London.  MetBib
Dascal, M.
1987Defending literal meaning. Cognitive Science 11: 259–281. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
1989On the role of context and literal meaning in understanding. Cognitive Science 13: 253–257. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
De Groot, S.A., J. Kaplan, E. Rosenblatt, S. Dews & E. Winner
1995Understanding versus discriminating nonliteral utterances: Evidence for a dissociation. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 10: 255–273. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Dews, S., J. Kaplan & E. Winner
1995Why not say it directly? The social functions of irony. Discourse Processes 19: 347–368. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Dews, S. & E. Winner
1995Muting the meaning: A social function of irony. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 10: 3–19. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
1997Attributing meaning to deliberately false utterances: The case of irony. In C. Mandell & A. Mccabe (eds.) The problem of meaning: Behavioral and cognitive perspectives: 377–414. Elsevier. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
1999Obligatory processing of the literal and nonliteral meanings of ironic utterances. Journal of Pragmatics 31(12): 1579–1599. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Ducas, G.
1998Pictorial irony: On the notion of irony aptness in still and motion pictures. Unpublished MA thesis. Tel Aviv University.Google Scholar
Eco, U.
1984Semiotics and the philosophy of language. Indiana University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Fodor, J.
1983The modularity of mind. MIT Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Gernsbacher, M.A.
1990Language comprehension as structure building. Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Gibbs, W.R.
1986aOn the psycholinguistics of sarcasm. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 115: 3–15. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1986bComprehension and memory for nonliteral utterances: The problem of sarcastic indirect requests. Acta Psychologica 62: 41–57. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1994The poetics of mind. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Gibbs, W.R. & J. O’brien
1991Psychological aspects of irony understanding. Journal of Pragmatics 16: 523–530. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Gibbs, W.R., J. O’brien & S. Doolittle
1995Inferring meanings that are not intended: Speakers’ intentions and irony comprehension. Discourse Processes 20: 187–203. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Giora, R.
1995On irony and negation. Discourse Processes 19: 239–264. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
1997Understanding figurative and literal language: The graded salience hypothesis. Cognitive Linguistics 7(1): 183–206. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
1998The politics of indirectness. Women’s Forum Conference. Tel Aviv University.
Giora, R. & O. Fein
1999aIrony: Context and salience. Metaphor and Symbol 14(4): 241–257. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
1999bIrony comprehension: the graded salience hypothesis. Humor 12(4): 425–436. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Giora, R., O. Fein & T. Schwartz
1998Irony: Graded salience and indirect negation. Metaphor and Symbol 13(2): 83–101. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Giora, R. & I. Gur
1998Irony in conversation: The graded salience hypothesis. Ms. Tel Aviv University.
Giora, R., E. Zaidel, N. Soroker, G. Batori & A. Kasher
2000Differential effects of right and left hemispheric damage on understanding sarcasm and metaphor. Metaphor and Symbol 15: 63–83. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Glucksberg, R. Kreuz & S.H. Rho
1986Context can constrain lexical access: Implications for models of language comprehension. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 12: 323–335. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Grice, H.P.
1975Logic and conversation. In P. Cole & J. Morgan (eds.) (1975) Syntax and Semantics Vol. 3: Speech acts: 41–58. Academic Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
1978Further notes on logic and conversation. In P. Cole (ed.) Syntax and Semantics Vol. 9: Pragmatics, 113–128. Academic Press.Google Scholar
Haiman, J.
1990Sarcasm as theater. Cognitive Linguistics 1(2): 181–203. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Hamamoto, H.
1998Irony from a cognitive perspective. In R. Carston & S. Uchida (eds.): 257–270.Google Scholar
Happé, F.G.E.
1993Communicative competence and theory of mind in autism: A test of relevance theory. Cognition 48: 101–119. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Haverkate, H.
1990A speech-act analysis of irony. Journal of Pragmatics 14: 77–109. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Hulstijn, J. & A. Nijholt
(eds.) 1996Automatic Interpretation and Generation of Verbal Humor. University of Twente.Google Scholar
Hutcheon, L.
1994Irony’s edge: The theory and politics of irony. Routledge. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Hymes, D.
1987A pattern of verbal irony in Chinookan. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 65: 97–111.Google Scholar
Jardon, D.
1988Du comique dans le texte littéraire. De Boek.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Jorgensen, J.G.
1996The functions of sarcastic irony in speech. Journal of Pragmatics 26: 613–634. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Jorgensen, J.G., A. Miller & D. Sperber
1984Test of the mention theory of irony. Journal of Experimental psychology: General 113: 112–120. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Kaplan, A.J., H.H. Brownell, J.R. Jacobs & H. Gardner
1990The effects of right hemisphere damage on the pragmatic interpretation of conversational remarks. Brain and Language 38: 315–333. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Katz, N.A.
1996On interpreting statements as metaphors or irony: Contextual heuristics and cognitive consequences. In J.S. Mio & A.N. Katz (eds.) 1996 Metaphor: Implications and applications: 1–22. Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Katz, A.N. & C.J. Lee
1993The role of authorial intent in determining verbal irony and metaphor. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 8: 257–279. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Katz, A.N. & P.M. Pexman
1997Interpreting figurative statements: Speaker occupation can change metaphor to irony. Metaphor and Symbol 12(1): 19–41. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Keenan, J., B. Macwinney & D. Meyhew
1997Pragmatics in memory. A study of natural conversation. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 16: 549–560. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Kotthoff, H.
1996Impoliteness and conversation joking: On relational politics. Folia Linguistica XXX(3–4): 299–327.Google Scholar
1998Responding to conversational irony. Paper presented at AILA conference.
1999Gender and joking: On the complexities of women’s image politics in humorous narratives. Journal of Pragmatics: 31(11). DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
2002Irony, quotation, and other forms of staged intertextuality: Double or contrastive perspectivation in conversation. In C. Graumann & W. Kallmeyer (eds.) Perspective and Perspectivation in Discourse: 201–229. John Benjamins. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Kreuz, J.R. & S. Glucksberg
1989How to be sarcastic: The echoic reminder theory of verbal irony. Journal of Experimental psychology: General 118: 374–386. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Kreuz, J.R., M.A. Kassler, L. Coppenrath & B.M. Allen
1999Tag question and common ground effects in the perception of verbal irony. Journal of Pragmatics 31(12): 1685–1700. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Kreuz, J.R., D.L. Long, M.B. Church
1991On being ironic: Pragmatic and mnemonic implications. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 3(6): 149–162. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Kreuz, J.R. & R. Roberts
1995Two cues for verbal irony: Hyperbole and the ironic tone of voice. Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 10: 21–31. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Kumon-Nakamura, S., S. Glucksberg & M. Brown
1995How about another piece of the pie: The allusional pretense theory of discourse irony. Journal of Experimental psychology: General 124(1): 3–21. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Lee, J.C. & A.N. Katz
1998The differential role of ridicule in sarcasm and irony. Metaphor and Symbol 13: 1–15. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Leech, G.
1983Principles of Pragmatics. Longman.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Littman, D.C. & J.L. Mey
1991The nature of irony: Toward a computational model of irony. Journal of Pragmatics 15: 131–151. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Lucariello, J.
1994Situational irony. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 123: 129–145. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Martin, R.
1992Irony and universe of belief. Lingua 87: 77–90. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Mcdonald, S. & S. Pearce
1996Clinical insights into pragmatic theory: Frontal lobe deficits and sarcasm. Brain and Language 53: 81–104. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Micham, D.L.
1984Memory for irony in prose. Discourse Processes 7: 89–101. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Milosky, L.M. & J.A. Ford
1997The role of prosody in children’s inferences of ironic intent. Discourse Processes 23: 47–61. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Muecke, D.C.
1969The compass of irony. Methuen.Google Scholar
1970Irony. Methuen.  BoPGoogle Scholar
1978Irony markers. Poetics 7: 363–375. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1982Irony and the ironic. Methuen.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Nelson, K.E. & K. Nelson
1978Cognitive pendulums. In K.E. Nelson (ed.) 1978 Children’s Language (Vol. 1): 223–285.Google Scholar
Onifer, W. & D.A. Swinney
1981Accessing lexical ambiguities during sentence comprehension: Effects of frequency of meaning and contextual bias. Memory & Cognition 9: 225–236. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Pexman, P., T. Ferretti and A. Katz
2000Discourse factors that influence irony detection during on-line reading. Discourse Processes, 29(3). DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Prier, A. & G. Gillespie
(eds.) 1997Narrative ironies. Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
Rayner, K., J.M. Pacht & S.A. Duffy
1994Effects of prior encounter and global discourse bias on the processing of lexically ambiguous words: Evidence from eye fixations. Journal of Memory and Language 33: 527–544. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Récanati, F.
1995The alleged priority of literal meaning. Cognitive Science 19: 207–232. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Rosenblatt, E., D. Swinney, H. Gardner & E. Winner
1987Online processing of metaphor and irony. Unpublished ms.
Roy, A.M.
1981The function of irony in discourse. Text 1(4): 407–423.Google Scholar
Schütte, W.
1991Scherzkommunikation unter Orchestermusikern. Niemeyer.Google Scholar
Schwoebel, J., S. Dews, E. Winner, E.K. Srinivas
2000Obligatory Processing of the Literal Meaning of Ironic Utterances: Further Evidence. Metaphor and Symbol 15: 47–61. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Searle, J.
1979Expression and Meaning. Cambridge University Press. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Seto, K.
1998On non-echoic irony. In R. Carston & S. Uchida (eds.): 239–255.Google Scholar
Simpson, B.G.
1981Meaning dominance and semantic context in the processing of lexical ambiguity. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 20: 120–136. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Sperber, D.
1984Verbal irony: Pretense or echoic mention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 113: 130–136. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Sperber, D. & D. Wilson
1981Irony and the use-mention distinction. In P. Cole (ed.): 295–318.Google Scholar
1986/1995Relevance: Communication and cognition. Blackwell.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Stringfellow, F.H.
1994The meaning of irony: a psychoanalytic investigation. State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
Swinney, D.A.
1979Lexical access during sentence comprehension: (Re)consideration of context effects. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 18: 645–659. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Tittler, J.
1984Narrative irony in the contemporary Spanish-American novel. Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Turner, N.E. & A.N. Katz
1997Evidence for the availability of conventional and of literal meaning during the comprehension of proverbs. Pragmatics and Cognition 5: 203–237.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Utsumi, A.
1996Implicit display theory of verbal irony: Towards a computational model of irony. In J. Hulstijn & A. Nijholt (eds.): 29–38.Google Scholar
Vološinov, S.V.N.
1926/78Reported speech. In L. Matejka & K. Pomorska (eds.) 1978 Readings in Russian poetics: 149–175. MIT PressIT Press.Google Scholar
Vosniadou, S.
1989Analogical reasoning as a mechanism in knowledge acquisition: A developmental perspective. In S. Vosniadou & A. Ortony (eds.) 1989 Similarity and analogical reasoning: 413–437. Cambridge University Press. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Walker, N.
1991Feminist Alternatives. University Press of Mississippi.Google Scholar
Weizman, E.
1984aSome register characteristics of journalistic language: Are they universals? Applied Linguistics V(1): 39–50. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
1984bIdentifying implied referents: Textual and pragmatic factors in information processing. Applied Linguistics V(3): 264–274. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
1997Journalistic discourse in modern Hebrew: Saturated environments. In Y. Ben Tolila (ed.) 1997 Shay la’Hadassa: Research in the Hebrew language and in Judaic languages: 211–227. Ben Gurion University.Google Scholar
Weizman, E. & M. Dascal
1991On clues and cues: Strategies of text understanding. Journal of literary semantics XX(1): 18–30. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Wilson, D. & D. Sperber
1992On verbal irony. Lingua 87: 53–76. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Winner, E.
1988The point of words: Children’s understanding of metaphor and irony. Harvard University Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Winner, E., H. Brownell, F. Happé, A. Blum & D. Pincus
1998Distinguishing lies from jokes: Theory of mind deficits and discourse interpretation in right hemisphere brain-damaged patients. Brain and Language 62: 89–106. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Winner, E., J. Levy, J. Kaplan & E. Rosenblatt
1988Journal of Aesthetic Education 22: 51–63. DOI logo
Yamanasi, M.
1998Some issues in the treatment of irony and related tropes. In R. Carston & S. Uchida (eds.): 271–281.  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Zaidel, E.
1979Performance on the ITPA following cerebral commissurotomy and hemispherectomy. Neuropsychologia 17: 259–280. DOI logoGoogle Scholar