Dictionary.com

Is Ironic the Most Abused Word in English?

irony, ironic

“That is sooooo ironic.” This sentence is used frequently — and usually incorrectly — in American English.

Often the word “ironic” is misused to remark on a coincidence, such as “This is the third time today we’ve run into each other. How ironic.”

It is also mistakenly used to describe something out of the ordinary or unusual: “Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in November. It was really ironic.” And, unfortunately, it is sometimes used to simply emphasize something interesting. For example, “Ironically, it was the best movie I’ve seen all year!” We submit that ironic might be the most abused word in the English language.

Even Alanis Morissette was called out for being too loose with the word in her 1995 hit “Ironic.” The critics were so sharp that Morissette was forced to explain that she wasn’t trying to make every lyric in the song “technically ironic.”

So, what does the word really mean? And how do you make a proper ironic statement? An ironic remark conveys a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning. So, in an ironic statement one thing is said, while another thing is meant. For example, if you were trying to be ironic on a stormy, dreary day, you might say: “What glorious weather!” Or if you were suffering from a bad cold, you might ironically say: “I feel like a million bucks.” These are both examples of verbal irony, the most common occurrence of the figure of speech.

Irony is often confused with sarcasm. While the two are similar, in sarcasm there is a stronger intent to ridicule or mock, often harshly or crudely. Dramatic irony is inherent in speeches or a situation of a drama and is understood by the audience but not grasped by the characters in the play. Situational irony is an outcome that turns out to be very different from what was expected. This third type is the most prone to ambiguity and personal interpretation, setting up the potential for misunderstanding, and misuse.

Do you agree with our assessment, or do you feel we need to let language evolve no matter how far usage drifts from a precise meaning? What other words or phrases receive such treatment? Let us know, below.

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1,209 Comments

  1. B -  July 4, 2014 - 9:17 am

    So, if you finally wash your car and it rains the next day; is that ironic?

    Reply
    • A -  July 19, 2014 - 12:34 am

      Did you even read the article?

      Reply
    • Matt Wilkes -  July 30, 2014 - 12:38 pm

      I think even the article has got the definition of irony wrong.

      An example would be maybe a long distance runner who is super fit dies of a heart attack relaxing on the beach – that would be ironic…

      …or a civil rights activist who has always pioneered the rights and causes of ethnic roma gypsies gets mugged by one…

      It’s basically an unexpected paradox in circumstance…

      It can also be in a name, e.g. “The ironically named Colt .45 Peacemaker”…

      …or “ironic really, Labour (or Labor) day being a holiday”

      Hope this helps…

      Reply
    • NJL -  September 9, 2014 - 11:33 am

      You got it wrong. The most misused word in the English language is probably a dead heat tie between “epic” and “like”.

      Reply
    • Carole -  September 13, 2014 - 12:56 pm

      AROUND. Is anyone else noticing increased use of the word “around” as in, “We need more dialogue around this topic.” or “We are doing some work around optimizing labor efficiencies.” or “We are looking for input around efficiencies…” This use of around signals bs. I can’t take seriously anyone who uses around in this way.

      Reply
  2. xaviera -  April 29, 2014 - 8:37 am

    the examples given were more sarcastic than ironic.

    Reply
  3. joanadabon -  April 28, 2014 - 3:14 pm

    Isn’t Morissette’s “Ironic” an example of situational irony? Something that you expected to happen but turned out to be the opposite: “It’s like rain on your wedding day”. It’s supposed to be sunny on your wedding day, right? “A free ride when you’ve already paid”. The situation turned out to be something opposite from what is expected. Situational irony. :)

    Reply
    • Jon -  April 28, 2014 - 5:53 pm

      Those are just very unfortunate situations, not ironic.

      Here’s what’s ironic: You expect a song entitled “Ironic” to be full of ironies, and it turns out it is just filled with misuses of the word irony.

      Reply
      • Matt Wilkes -  July 30, 2014 - 12:39 pm

        Haha – yes Jon – that’s Ironic – made me smile :-D

        Reply
      • bjones -  August 30, 2014 - 11:08 pm

        Jon, if there was Pulitzer for blog comments, you’d get my vote! Still laughing.

        Reply
  4. bill -  April 28, 2014 - 6:24 am

    although often used in its correct form i believe the most over used word would have to be ” AWESOME “. please before using this particular word again, buy a ” THESAURUS ” , believe it or not there are alternatives

    Reply
    • laura -  June 18, 2014 - 1:10 pm

      We’re not talking about overused words though, we’re talking about commonly misused words.

      Reply
  5. Kiki -  April 16, 2014 - 7:27 pm

    So what word would you use to describe a situation that was unexpected, a crazy coincidence? I’m looking for a word besides “coincidentally” and that ends in “ly.”

    Reply
    • Robin -  April 27, 2014 - 4:31 am

      Sophisticated and mundane are 2 words whose meaning changed over time through misuse(?) Look up the original meaning.

      Reply
      • Matt Wilkes -  July 30, 2014 - 12:49 pm

        Queer and gay are two words that have changed drastically over the past 40 years.

        Queer used to mean feeling unwell or off colour, and gay used to mean happy and carefree.

        Now, when I read my daughter an Enid Blyton fairytale at bedtime, I have to continually swap out words so the whole thing is no misconstrued.

        Sad really. Homosexual was fine – I have nothing against homosexuals – but why did they have to hijack two age old words and turn the meaning around?

        Fag is another one – in England this is a slang word for cigarette – “I’m just popping out for a fag” – something else that raises an eyebrow these days (lucky I’ve quit).

        Maybe we can knit this into the whole irony thread? suggestions anyone?

        The straight guy said: “I was feeling gay, so I went outside for a fag but it made me feel queer”

        No – I’m grabbing at straws LOL!

        Reply
    • @arleen_concepc -  April 29, 2014 - 6:56 am

      ironic

      Reply
    • xaviera -  April 29, 2014 - 8:39 am

      Some examples my English teacher gave me were: The Fire House burning down or the Police Station getting robbed.

      Reply
      • Steve -  June 1, 2014 - 4:49 am

        Perfect examples.

        Reply
  6. Rodrigo -  April 11, 2014 - 10:46 am

    Thanks to Microsoft, tool may be the most overused word in English, and it has contributed to the misuse of the Spanish word herramienta as well. In English, the word’s primary definition is a handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task. For a computer function, a more precise word is application or app. In Spanish, the meaning of herramienta is more precise. It is a device, often made of iron or steel, used by a craftsman in his work. Unfortunately, Microsoft mistranslates tool as herramienta when referring to computer applications.

    Reply
  7. Mechelle -  April 9, 2014 - 7:15 am

    Ignorant! I hear people use this word improperly all the time.

    Reply
  8. Richard Gearon -  April 9, 2014 - 4:57 am

    I believe that the most overused, and incorrectly used, word is “were.” In almost all instances of the use of this word, the correct word is “was.” It’s a simple matter of plural or singular, but lots of people get it wrong.

    Reply
    • Tsalnor -  April 15, 2014 - 10:41 am

      The very notion of people using “were” incorrectly bothers me. It’s much more likely you’re just a little mistaken about English grammar. If not, some examples would be appreciated, although you’ll likely find that they’re in the subjunctive mood.

      Reply
    • Nathan -  April 21, 2014 - 3:25 pm

      Richard, was you too busy to give some examples?

      Reply
    • Rod M -  September 11, 2014 - 1:46 am

      Come on Richard, we was hoping for examples of how, “were,” is used incorrectly. Are you forgetting, “were,” sounds similar to, “we’re?” Maybe you are just upset that many people dont take the time to write the ‘ as I so obviously didnt with dont and didnt. Silly Richard…

      Reply
  9. Geoff -  April 7, 2014 - 5:12 am

    “Ironic” and “literally” are about on par, but neither comes close to the truly most abused word: the extra-grammatical “like”. Twenty years ago (OK, maybe 25) many of us would laugh at “Valley Girls” who used “like” five times plus in one sentence. Now it seems as if half the U.S. population talks that way. I was confined to a car with such a person the other day–don’t know how many times I had to bite my tongue. Another friend finally couldn’t resist and said, “Is ‘like dying’ the same as dying?” The friendly jab wasn’t even perceived by the first guy. Oy.

    Reply
    • Sally -  April 9, 2014 - 3:07 pm

      In my experience, “literally” is the most abused, misused word. It always amazes me that people who “literally died” somehow live to tell about it!

      Reply
      • Jesse -  April 21, 2014 - 10:35 pm

        What is really strange is that there are arguments that the definition of “literally” is changing due to misuse, and that today it can be correct when used as an “intensifier” even thought it strictly goes against the actual meaning.

        While I’m strongly against this change, I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few decades, we ask each other “remember back when ‘literally’ meant without exaggeration or inaccuracy?”

        Reply
    • Angela -  April 27, 2014 - 11:00 am

      Geoff, you are absolutely correct! I hate how like has come to mean a person said something and then it continues to be used like a ping-pong ball back and forth:
      She was like, “no way” and he was like, “way!” and on and on. It’s not even conserving words because ‘was like’ takes the place of ‘said’!!
      When I was young (about 35 years ago) my brother used to sit across the kitchen table from me and count the number of times I used ‘like’ in describing something. Then it was a funny joke (which I have long outgrown, btw) but now it shows laziness in speech, I think. Do you think it came from the Valley Girls or started earlier? My story was pre-Valley Girls, so who knows?
      I can imagine the first guy in your story not even missing a beat and continuing on with his ‘like dying’!! lol

      Reply
      • laura -  June 18, 2014 - 1:19 pm

        It can’t be laziness in speech if you’re using an EXTRA word instead of replacing words with less intelligent or incorrect ones. It’s just a habit, like “um” and “uh”. It can show a lack of confidence in what one is saying but it does not show laziness. There’s no logic in that. Every culture has its little verbal habits like that.

        Also, I feel like part of the logic behind replacing “said” with “was like” is that people feel it is more expressive, as in, you’re explaining more than just what was said, but the expressions and tone etc. It’s not exactly an intelligent way to word it but I feel like it holds a slightly different meaning than “said”.

        Reply
        • Owen -  June 26, 2014 - 7:35 pm

          I agree with what you said Laura, despite not being someone who overuses the word like. But I’m not counting. I can confirm that the same word is also overused in french, “c’est comme”, actually in french this “like” is followed often by the word “all”, and/or “style” such as in: Ma girlfriend ‘était comme toute, genre, étonnée de voir que j’étais là” (“My girlfriend was like, totally, style, surprised that I was there”).
          So, yeah, might have been taken from english. I don’t know is that ironic?

          Reply
        • Jake -  July 7, 2014 - 12:38 pm

          I don’t know about that Laura. I’m thinking that just by using an extra word does not mean it isn’t lazy. Lazy people regularly do more work to avoid doing something that could have been done with less effort than it took to avoid.

          I am reminded of the one time going on sick call in the army and two of our unit’s biggest malingerers were there that day. They were both happened to be named Evans and both enjoyed seeing how many days they could be on sick call. Well to distinguish himself from the younger Evans the older stated that he was the lazier of the two because he didn’t just not work as the younger did, but would put in “work to avoid work” even if took more effort than working. He was proud of that. And to me despite that effort I considered Evans pretty damn lazy.

          Reply
  10. Walt Jorgesen -  March 31, 2014 - 12:01 pm

    I’d like to answer this question, “Do you agree with our assessment, or do you feel we need to let language evolve no matter how far usage drifts from a precise meaning? What other words or phrases receive such treatment? Let us know, below.”

    My father loved language and held what for a long time I thought were contradictory views. He like using the right word, but he also relished the way our language evolved. I understand better now what I think he was valuing. It wasn’t so important to him that you use the right word, i.e., the “proper” word, but to use the word that most accurately expressed your intended meaning. I’ve come to realize that meant understanding your language well enough, in terms of its semantics, to be able to select the words that best conveyed the essence of your thoughts and feelings. Other, more nuanced features of language come into play also, e.g., syntax, vernacular, and many other writing and speaking skills.

    How many times have we paused, trying to ferret out the word we know is there in our memory, sometimes teasing it out and sometimes having to settle for the one we can find that somehow misses the mark and leaves our meaning somewhat out of focus?

    Language is magical. Along with a few other nearly unique capabilities, it makes us what we are as a species. We can celebrate ourselves by using it as well as possible.

    Reply
  11. Jeff W -  March 31, 2014 - 10:37 am

    Literally is used improperly way to much…literally!

    Reply
    • W Richard Stark -  April 4, 2014 - 8:00 am

      I vote for “semantics” as the most abused word. A language has two types of structure [1] “syntax” includes punctuation and grammar, [2] “semantics” is meaning. When someone says “its just a matter of semantics” they are probably saying the opposite of what they think they are saying,. Being a matter of semantics (i.e., of meaning) is a matter of importance, the essence of what is being said and it does not dismiss the issue. Possibly the expression could have originated”it is just a matter of syntax”.

      Reply
  12. eric -  March 29, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    My vote is for cynical, spite, and touche. These words are as abused as they are misunderstood. The trick is not to correct someone, but offer the correct word they’re searching for. Someone called me cynical and I confirmed their true meaning , “so you think I’m being pessimistic?”

    Reply
  13. Sheldon Peterson -  March 27, 2014 - 1:03 pm

    My vote is for “literally”. I just read a blog by a woman traveling in Peru whose cheeks and nose were “literally” burned off due to lack of sunblock. Funny, she looked fine in the picture.

    Reply
  14. D -  March 27, 2014 - 9:34 am

    You conceded that verbal irony can be quite close to sarcasm, yet completely gloss over that situational irony can be close to coincidence.

    Sitiational irony is defined a something like a sequence of events that culminates in the opposite of what is expected. People don’t expect coincidences… While not all coincidence is ironic, surely some can be situationally so?

    You are more or less correct about the misuse of irony, but there is a reason for it. Irony can mean things that are very close to both sarcasm or facetiousness, and while perhaps a further deviation from coincidence, sometimes the distinction can be quite subtle.

    Finally, in common speech, words become bastardized all the time. Because irony can mean something close to multiple common sentiments, its overuse, or even misuse, is not really that surprising.

    Reply
  15. Harvey Wachtel -  March 27, 2014 - 7:21 am

    @Drew – March 15, 2014 – 8:32 am. I liked your post, but I think “ultimate”: may be a bit strong. Maybe we need a nonce term like “meta-irony”.

    Reply
  16. Harvey Wachtel -  March 27, 2014 - 6:57 am

    @Drew – March 15, 2014 – 8:32 am : “Data” is not plural. The proof is that it is used to modify other nouns, as in “data processing” and “data storage”. Plurals are not used as modifiers (e.g., Grand Central Terminal is a “train station”, not a “trains station”, although it serves hundreds of trains each day).

    What “data” has become in current usage is a mass noun, similar in usage to “information”. What was once called a datum (when was the last time you heard that word used outside of scientific literature) is now “an item of data”, something like “a drop of water”.

    Mass nouns take singular verbs. “The data show…” is inconsistent and illogical. “The data shows” is consistent and logical.

    Reply
  17. Elaine G. -  March 26, 2014 - 9:44 am

    How “AMAZING” is that! “Amazing” , in my opinion is the most abused word. It seems everything can be described as amazing. “I bought an amazing sweater”, ” Our dog is so amazing”, ” The library book is amazing”, ” She returned my class ring, amazing”. The list goes on. The definition, ” to fill with great surprise or wonder; astonish”, according to “WEBSTER’S NEW WORLD™ DICTIONARY”.

    Reply
  18. Emma Beatty -  March 26, 2014 - 3:00 am

    That is literally so ironic – sadly, the logical bit of my brain doesn’t always click in before I start speaking (and then it’s too late)

    Reply
  19. Gina Raggette -  March 24, 2014 - 3:44 pm

    I don’t want to hear the word, “EPIC” anymore until I die. Everytime I turn around someone is using epic to describe all sorts of un-epic things. I mean, how is it epic that you’ve done on MANY occasions things that you and others have done before??? Sheesh!

    Reply
  20. Quinstar -  March 24, 2014 - 7:03 am

    I think the word “literally” is more frequently abused than “ironic”.

    Reply
  21. Steven -  March 23, 2014 - 5:26 pm

    I agree that ironic may be the most abused word in the English language. I also believe that “awesome” is quite overused. For something to be awesome, it needs to be truly awe inspiring, not just “neat” or “cool”.

    Reply
  22. Marienne Litolff -  March 23, 2014 - 12:04 am

    The word “so” is a bit naughty (“I so do” ad infinitum) but what I heartily object to is the overuse of the word “journey” which seems to be applied to everything that anybody ever does, in fact in all things from A to Z nobody ever “does” anything anymore, apparently they undertake a “journey”! I wish that whoever was responsible for that particular instance of word abuse would take a journey – a bloody great long one and the sooner the better. . . !

    Reply
  23. Marienne Litolff -  March 22, 2014 - 11:23 pm

    I object to the word “journey” which seems to be applied to everything that anybody ever does, in fact from A to Z nobody actually “does” anything anymore, but apparently they undertake a “journey”! I wish that whoever was responsible for that particular instance of word abuse would take a journey … a bloody great long one and the sooner the better!

    Reply
  24. Stan -  March 20, 2014 - 3:42 pm

    “Are” has replaced the word “our”, even by TV talking heads! I told a radio host about it & she gave a lame excuse. People have been so dumbed down that they look almost illiterate when they use “are” instead of the possessive “our”

    The cat’s out of the bag, from this moment, you’ll hear it everywhere! My mother was a school teacher & she’d freak if I told her!

    Reply
  25. Patrick Cannan -  March 19, 2014 - 7:43 am

    Irony: yes, it’s too often abused in both speech and in writing. In writing, the most abused (in my experience) is the misuse of “it’s” and its.”

    Reply
  26. laxob1 -  March 19, 2014 - 6:19 am

    I would say that the use of forte’ for forte is the most common misuse of a work there is. I have commented on this many times and when people are amazed at the real definition of the word forte’.

    Reply
  27. Mel -  March 17, 2014 - 11:15 am

    The misuse of the word “unique” has bothered me for more than 20 years. So many used it to mean “unusual” or “special” that the word now officially includes “unusual” as part of the evolved definition. While I understand that language naturally evolves, this bothers me because there are few words that mean “one-of-a-kind”. Singular is perhaps the only satisfactory substitute.

    Literally is another. This is particularly bothersome because it is misused to convey the opposite of its meaning. I recall a football article in a respected magazine that misused the word this way! And so many sportscasters. I wonder if this is how the words “flammable” and “inflammable” both mean the same thing, i.e., was the original word “infammable” but people thought that this meant “not flammable”?

    Reply
  28. burshigi -  March 17, 2014 - 10:15 am

    @escot – March 12, 2014 – 8:13 am
    Your thought about “in” placed before “genius” is cute as a verbal quip, but quickly falls down when you see it correctly spelled “ingenious” (with the “o” it requires).

    Reply
  29. jbm -  March 15, 2014 - 1:12 pm

    Morissette Ironic Loop: Alanis Morissette sings a song about irony, but it is actually about coincidence and bad luck. A rainy wedding day, or a fly in your champagne is not ironic, it just sucks; it’s a song about misfortune. But wait, a song about irony, that it is not literally ironic, is in fact, ironic. She sings a song about irony, but it actually is not about irony, this is the definition of irony. So if you agree that the song is ironic, the fact that it is ironic makes the song ironic, making it no longer ironic because she is singing a song about irony, and it is ironic. This is not irony. Now she is singing an ironic song about irony. So now if you agree that it is no longer ironic, it is once again, ironic. Ad infinitum.

    Reply
  30. Drew -  March 15, 2014 - 8:32 am

    The word “data” is probably more often misused than used correctly. It is a plural. If we let common usage dictate that we should accept its use as a singular, than what shall we use for the plural? Examples of proper use:
    1. The data are inconclusive, not the data is inconclusive. 2. The data support my view, not the data supports my view. 3. Here are the relevant data, not here is the relevant data. Again, using the last example of misuse (i.e. here is the relevant data), how would one make data plural, datas? Would one say “here are the relevant datas, or datae, or ????”

    Reply
  31. Ron McAnally -  March 14, 2014 - 6:04 am

    Ironic is ofter used to convey an event that is opposite to intended goals.
    Example: if a an animal rights activist were killed by an animal, that would be ironic.

    Reply
  32. escot -  March 12, 2014 - 8:13 am

    Surely someone has already posted this pet peeve, but I’m compelled to as well: “Genius” as an adjective drives me insane! It’s so f’ing easy to put “in” in front of it!

    Reply
  33. RuBear -  March 11, 2014 - 2:11 pm

    I think the most misused word is “myself”. Myself is a reflexive word, and other people cannot see myself. That’s a big annoyance for me.

    Others that I hear a lot of are infamous, in place of famous, and world-famous. Ummmm… your casserole can’t be world-famous if no one outside of your close circle of friends within your little town (or even large country) has even heard of it.

    Reply
  34. Conni -  March 5, 2014 - 8:25 am

    Another commonly misused word is UNIQUE.
    Unique means ONE OF A KIND. Most unique, more unique, very unique are all incorrect. There is only one degree of unique. That is UNIQUE. One of a kind. There is no other in existence.

    Reply
  35. Malcolm -  March 2, 2014 - 6:05 am

    Yes, ironic is near or at the top of misused words. Just listen to Alanis Morissette. Hot on its heals for abused, misused, and overused is “iconic.” Now that I’ve mentioned it, see how times you hear it over the next few days, especially from news anchor. It no longer has any meaning at all. (New anchors, commentators, sports analysts – those who should have a good command of the English language – are the biggest offenders. Listen also for “beg the question,” which has nothing to do with asking the obvious question.)

    Reply
  36. Mike Irvine -  February 27, 2014 - 4:43 pm

    I’m not sure about the most abused word, but hands down the most abused phrase in the English language is “to beg the question”. Question- begging has a precise and elegant meaning that goes all the way back to Aristotle. It means to make a point using circular reasoning, a conclusion based on a premise that presupposes the conclusion. For example, “The Bible says that God exists; The Bible is the inspired word of God; therefore God exists”. The phrase is commonly misused to mean “leading to a question”, e.g.. “it is pouring rain; that begs the question of whether the parade will be held”. It is a bit of a pity to see an elegant phrase deprived of all meaning.

    Reply
  37. Ralph -  February 27, 2014 - 11:04 am

    It’s as a possessive??!!! On this page??!!! To quote Charlie Brown, “Good grief!”

    Reply
  38. bossrat -  February 27, 2014 - 7:10 am

    The title must go to: ‘actually,’ ‘basically,’ ‘literally’ and ‘obviously.’

    Reply
  39. Larry Thompson -  February 13, 2014 - 1:46 pm

    While ironic in it’s various manifestions is with doubt often abused, I find words like random, literally, racist and hero (in it’s various manifestions) are far more often abused. I blame the lawyers and the politicians more than poets, writers and lyricists. The latter group are granted license to amend or coin new words; if they do so with skill, the word sticks. Simply redefining, generally pursuant to an agenda, a word requires no skill as is routinely demonstrated by those who do so. One last expletive should be directed to all the television and radio announcers along with their many interviewees who have no idea of the proper use of the reflexive pronoun, myself. I literally hate what they have done to the English language. It is neither random, racist nor heroic; it is simply ignorant. No irony there.

    Reply
  40. D -  February 12, 2014 - 9:20 am

    In my opinion, “ironic” is definitely and unarguably the most abused word today. It might even become one of those words that started out with one meaning, but now is completely different (such as “decimate”, for example). It’s a bit saddening, even if it might prove to be more useful with a more flexible definition.
    ….Ironically, I use the word wrong all too often despite my attempts to defend it. It’s a vicious circle.

    Reply
  41. yen -  February 11, 2014 - 7:45 pm

    Lot of people use “actually” at the beginning of every sentence.They use it in conversation but not while they write. Perhaps, they do it to buy time to think. It may or may not be an abuse , but certainly redundant and ‘superflous’.

    Reply
  42. wolf tamer and coal miner -  February 9, 2014 - 5:22 am

    I don’t know about the MOST abused word (“hopefully” and “literally” are also misused), but “ironic” is definitely abused. Not that I use it very much in the first place.

    @Angalyssa and @fallwolf280:
    I have a secret collection of secrets that I secretly add secrets to, and sometimes I secretly tell one of my secrets to someone, and then I have secretly added another secret to my secret collection, but if someone else secretly finds out what the secrets in my secret collection are, my secrets aren’t secret anymore, and it’s a secret from me!

    That was a full 15 “secret”s – muwahahaha!

    Reply
  43. shojo dagger -  February 3, 2014 - 3:44 pm

    I agree with Lee Gee, that “racist” is the most abused/misused word. Most people don’t even know what it actually means, they just know that if they see or hear something that is different from their own opinion they can call it “racist” as a put-down. Same thing with “bigot”, when somebody has an opinion they don’t agree with, they call them a “bigot”. People using the word “racist” & “bigot” as a way to express their intolerance of others, now *that* is ironic.

    Reply
  44. sid -  January 30, 2014 - 8:44 am

    The most overused word in my experience is “theory,” People mean to say “hypothesis,” but there’s a “th” in the middle that makes it hard to say without concentrating.

    Reply
  45. Anon -  January 27, 2014 - 11:24 am

    I often see “ironic” being abused but in all seriousness, people don’t even know what the word “literally” defines to. Most of the times, it’s my teachers at school, which is pathetic.

    Reply
  46. Lee Gee -  January 12, 2014 - 9:35 pm

    To be honest, I think “racist” is the most abused and over used word in the English language. I’m sick of hearing it being thrown around as a slap down all the time tbh.

    Reply
  47. Joe -  December 31, 2013 - 9:20 pm

    Oh, and for extra fun, there’s the definition of irony as the style of humor with secret or hidden meanings. The obvious example is something that at face value, seems to mean the opposite of what the speaker/writer really means. Thus, the term irony usually meaning to say something that might be literally true but for the wrong reasons, or to be the opposite, much like sarcasm. It can also be a leading joke that is meant to bypass censors because of the obvious meaning (to ‘squares’) which hides the secret meaning (say, sedition). I’m pretty sure it doesn’t HAVE to be humor, either. Think of slave songs in the southern USA.

    I couldn’t find the old chart from a book on writing style that I read decades ago, but I did find a nice list at Oracle’s ThinkQuest site. I’m not sure if URL’s get blocked, so you’ll have to search for it there. Also, they like to change them so a URL will likely become useless in less than a year.

    Reply
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  50. guy -  October 26, 2013 - 8:07 am

    I find it ironic that dictionary.com would consider it possible to abuse the word “ironic”.

    First, the use of the term “abuse” seems to be an unfortunate choice. The word “misuse” is more apt. Normally, I would not be so persnickety, but the content of the article invites such scrutiny.

    Second, it appears that dictionary.com is “descriptive” dictionary, not a “prescriptive” dictionary. As evidence, I submit the following usage note taken from dictionary.com on the word “nice”:

    Usage note
    “The semantic history of nice is quite varied, as the etymology and the obsolete senses attest, and any attempt to insist on only one of its present senses as correct will not be in keeping with the facts of actual usage. If any criticism is valid, it might be that the word is used too often and has become a cliché lacking the qualities of precision and intensity that are embodied in many of its synonyms.”

    Third, any logophile who has enjoyed the voyeuristic pleasures of etymologies will attest to the wild disparities among words, their temporal incarnations and their current usages. This is not to say that I am a linguistic anarchist, however, realities must be acknowledged.

    Consequently, I posit that the article itself, on this website, might be considered ironic.

    One last thing. I found a world of irony in this post:

    “Chris Ambarian on December 6, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I think that abuse (misuse) of a language as well-considered and deliberate as English is a good measure of the decline of the society that is perpetrating that abuse.”

    Reply
  51. Jillyflower -  October 22, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    Have not read through every comment but can’t see that anyone has mentioned “lay” and “lie” which are certainly commonly misused. Also “hung” and “hanged”. However, the two words that most annoy me (and putting in a question about these words was how I found this website) are “simple” and “simplistic”. My understanding is that “simple” could be used as an alternative to “simplistic” but never the other way around. Not sure if everyone would agree! I do strongly believe that language has to evolve, but that doesn’t mean that “lazy” or “pretentious” usage should become acceptable. This is a totally fascinating subject about which I would love to learn more.

    Reply
  52. Angalyssa -  October 15, 2013 - 9:17 am

    @Cecilia
    “Scarcasm is a poor form of communication and often hurtful. “

    Reply
  53. Cecilia -  October 13, 2013 - 7:52 pm

    I submit that sarcasm is a form of irony because
    “Sarcasm… is sometimes used as an equivalent for all forms of irony, but it is far more useful to restrict it only to the crude and taunting use of apparent praise for dispraise…An added clue to sarcasm is the exaggerated inflection of the speaker’s voice” (Abrams 136).

    Verbal irony involves a clash between the explicit expression and the implicit meaning. Even Jane Austen used sarcasm as a mode of irony in “Pride and Prejudice” (1813): “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in
    possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

    Sarcastic? Ironic? Check and check. Am I missing the point in either of these quotes? Tell me below. Otherwise, I think we need to accept sarcasm as a form of irony and stop trying to correct those that use it. Instead, maybe we should be less sarcastic, less “ironic” and more original and sincere.

    Reply
  54. Angalyssa -  October 11, 2013 - 9:48 am

    @fallwolf280
    I Beat You! I Said ‘Secret’ 8 Times!! Bamm! :) & You Only Said It Like 6 Times !! Lolzz

    Reply
  55. Angalyssa -  October 11, 2013 - 9:46 am

    @fallwolf280

    Hahha :) That’s So Amazing <3 Thanks For Telling Me That! Makes Me Feel Like Damn, I'm Not Alone In This World :) May I Ask What You're Real Name Is? So I Can Talk To Yu Like A Person Lolz xD

    Reply
  56. fallwolf280 -  October 9, 2013 - 6:27 pm

    @Xanthippe im sowwy I don’t know dat wule TT^TT

    Reply
  57. fallwolf280 -  October 9, 2013 - 6:25 pm

    @Angalyssa lolz I do that all the time I have a ginormous secret collection of secrets that I secretly add secrets to without my secret mom secretly knowing.

    Reply
  58. stalkergirl -  October 9, 2013 - 6:14 pm

    I’M UNDER YOUR BED CORRECTING YOUR USE OF THE WORD IRONIC O.o

    Reply
  59. Anjela -  October 9, 2013 - 9:40 am

    TO RACHEL on August 12, 2013 at 4:04 am

    YOU SAID:
    People shouldn’t use words if they don’t know what it means!
    …Another one is the word “awful”. Awful means full of awe. And
    Awe means an immense feeling of admiration or fear etc.
    So how then has the word awful been reduced to being just a
    negative word?

    Awful does NOT mean “full of awe”!!! LOL If you are going to comment on this site, you might want to actually USE it!!! If you had, you would know that AWFUL means:
    1. extremely bad; unpleasant; ugly: awful paintings; an awful job.
    2. inspiring fear; dreadful; terrible: an awful noise.

    {{{rolling eyes}}}

    Reply
  60. Anne Hawn -  October 8, 2013 - 3:49 pm

    Retain the meaning. In the study of literature it has a specific meaning which shouldn’t be lost. When words change their meaning drastically over time, it makes it very hard to understand the writings of the past. Some words don’t matter much if they change in popular culture, but others change the meaning of important concepts in the past, for example the word “let.”

    Reply
  61. Angalyssa -  October 7, 2013 - 9:12 am

    @jimmy
    That Was Confusing(: KInda Like ‘ The Best Thing About A Secret Is Secretly Telling Someone You’ree Secret Therby Secretly Adding Another
    Secret To You’ree Secret Collection Of Secrets. Secretly. (: Lol (: <3

    Reply
  62. jimmy -  October 2, 2013 - 2:19 pm

    @ch

    to explain the meaning of the word ignorant to the readers is a little ignorant that you think that we are all too ignorant to understand what ignorant means

    Reply
  63. Xanthippe -  October 2, 2013 - 1:31 pm

    Thank you to Dan and Koyote Lane for bringing up ‘comprise’, and using it correctly! Yes, everything evolves (or in some cases, depending on opinion, devolves), including definitions and utilization of the various parts of language. If, however, someone is going to use a word that isn’t generally considered conversational in the casual, ‘Hiya, howdoyoudo?’ manner, it seems negligent to just blab it out because it strikes one as impressive, exotic, sophisticated…whatever. That’s not to say one ought be overly self-conscious and avoid experimentation during talks with friends–quite the contrary. Just be sure to not take offense if corrected by the other party in the conversation–and–please, please do at least look things up, roll them round on the tongue, maybe even try out a few sentences. I find a great deal of fun in researching unfamiliar words. It stimulates and builds the brain. It boosts linguistic confidence. In some cases, it can improve one’s writing (if you’re into that form of masochism, ha-ha!).

    That some grammarians have chucked out, ‘The many compose the whole; the whole comprises the many,’ appalls me, I must admit. It’s such an easy rule to remember!

    In closing, ‘ironic’ has taken me years upon years upon years to get a grasp on, a grasp I still consider a bit slippery. Something about the word just doesn’t seem to resonate with me properly. Ah, well. :-)

    It’s great to see so many people who care about the stewardship of good English.

    Reply
  64. Robert -  October 1, 2013 - 12:21 am

    “Orientate” has always been standard in British English and British Commonwealth countries.

    Reply
  65. Max -  September 30, 2013 - 10:49 am

    Life is too short to be bothered by inconsequential differences. If you are speaking with a friend and he/she misuses a word, you obviously knew what they meant so why correct them? The last time I spoke with someone who felt compelled to correct me was just that, the last time I spoke with them. When writing a literary essay or professional paper, a responsible writer will know the correct usage.

    Reply
  66. Angalyssa -  September 30, 2013 - 9:49 am

    Huh. You Meet So Many Interesting People…. No. I THink It’s Deff Rude To Take Words Out Of The Dictionary. Somebody Put That There For A Reason So Leave It. (: Thxx!

    Reply
  67. Deborah E. -  September 27, 2013 - 6:56 pm

    I have to say that as a professor teaching the History of English to students, the argument of usage and prescription based on precedent, primarily classic languages began after the Restoration. Basically, the outcome then resulted in usage and custom as the determiners. Look up words in the Oxford English Dictionary. Joke was once slang and now is a common word. Vulgar orginally meant common but now is a expression of something obscene. Lovely once meant worthy of love. How is that word now used acceptably? Just my “two cents!”

    Reply
  68. Angalyssa -  September 25, 2013 - 9:39 am

    Yeahh(: It Really Is,. But Interesting ^.^)/ Yess. I Think !!

    Reply
  69. en jay -  September 23, 2013 - 10:26 pm

    ironic-strange………..life is ….
    dont you think……….

    Reply
  70. Priscilla Kelley -  September 23, 2013 - 4:04 pm

    Well, “hopefully” now that ironic has been “drug” through about 2,000 comments, (and that’s just “like” sooo ironic that it’s awesome) we can just let it “lay” there and die!

    Reply
  71. Jonathan -  September 15, 2013 - 2:26 pm

    Another word/abbreviation everyone tends to throw around like it’s nothing is OCD… Like omgosh! I am so OCD! In my mind I’m like you honestly do not know what OCD really is.

    Reply
  72. Eric S. Harris -  September 8, 2013 - 4:55 am

    “Ironic” is bad but “literally” is worse.

    What bothers the crap out of me is that one of the criteria used for deciding what a word “really” means, for dictionary purposes, is how it is used by journalists.

    If journalists were representative of the population at large, this wouldn’t be so bad. But they’re almost never well educated in technical fields, so they tend to get things wrong. (If they were good at science or engineering or math or whatever, they’d probably be doing chemistry or designing things or developing algorithms or whatever.)

    That’s why the word “hacker” became a bad thing when journalists started reporting more on those new-fangled computer machines that were becoming more affordable.

    Worse yet, the political views of journalists as a group are very different from the population as a whole. If only journalists voted, every election would be a landslide, of a sort which today happens only in highly-gerrymandered districts. If then. It generally doesn’t happen there, because the sure-loser party doesn’t bother to field a candidate when a 30 or 40 percentage point loss is almost certain. The gerrymandered-in party’s candidate runs unopposed.

    This affects journalist’s word choice — use the euphemism or use emotionally-loaded term? — and which pressure groups’ neologisms and phrases they adopt and which they ignore. They’re human, after all, and they care about political matters, so that’s going to seep into how they do their jobs.

    Reply
  73. dave strider -  September 7, 2013 - 11:19 am

    i find it ironic that i came to this page….
    B-|
    bu dum tshh……
    *lol for homestuck fans*
    *i liked the article. very interesting.*

    Reply
  74. AWKWARD -  September 6, 2013 - 11:07 am

    I think its awkwardly ironic that Maureen spelled awkward, as ackward.
    Ack!!
    This is awkward!

    Reply
  75. andrea bass -  August 29, 2013 - 3:47 pm

    this is very useful it helped me alot im still in college and having an essay on this was kinda hard but this helped!

    Reply
  76. Gandalf the Grey -  August 19, 2013 - 1:46 pm

    ‘Like’ is the most overused, misused, and abused word. No question about it.

    ‘I had, like, eggs for breakfast!’ Did you or didn’t you have eggs for breakfast? Was your breakfast reminiscent of eggs or did you actually have eggs?

    Everyone, like, uses like all the time when it doesn’t even, like, make sense. Most of the time, they don’t even realise they’re saying it, so they can’t correct themselves.

    Reply
  77. Vinita Jairath -  August 13, 2013 - 7:58 am

    I am gonna try using ironic, please correct me if am wrong. My friend is a public school teacher, but she wants to send her child to a private school. Now I find that ironic.

    Reply
  78. Rachel -  August 12, 2013 - 4:04 am

    People shouldn’t use words if they don’t know what it means! Ironic is one of those words that are wrongly used most of the time.

    Another one is the word “awful”. Awful means full of awe. And Awe means an immense feeling of admiration or fear etc. So how then has the word awful been reduced to being just a negative word?

    Reply
  79. K -  August 11, 2013 - 1:48 pm

    She used the word irony today… Not sure whether it was in the correct context though..she told him he was hurting her, he said he wouldn’t if she loved him, she replied ‘how ironic is that’… Now she’s more confused about whether she used it correctly than her relationship!

    Reply
  80. Chenka -  August 8, 2013 - 6:52 am

    Is it ironic that I love the word anhedonia?

    Perhaps I’m misusing the word love.
    Is it possible to love a word?
    It must be, because I do.

    Reply
  81. Laura Nass -  August 4, 2013 - 1:33 pm

    It has long annoyed me that the word ironic is often used to describe non-ironic situations. I was taught the definition of “ironic” in school and, ever since, I’ve heard or read it misused, almost to the point where I thought I was taught the wrong meaning.

    Reply
  82. WindRaven -  August 4, 2013 - 9:02 am

    I think “awesome” really is one of the most abused words in English. But I’m still a bit fuzzy on what it originally meant. Can anyone tell me?

    Reply
  83. Barbra -  August 4, 2013 - 8:53 am

    I am definitely guilty of incorrect usage – I have been saved, thanks

    To the person that said 99 – 100 people would see the ironic statements as sarcasm – you obviously have never had sarcasm thrown at you………. lucky you

    Reply
  84. havoc -  July 23, 2013 - 8:29 am

    I think bender says it best
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY_amJ0YZrM
    “The use of words defining something other than their literally intention, now THAT is irony.” (that being the irony of irony being misused.)

    Reply
  85. Matt -  July 21, 2013 - 12:54 pm

    To those who think a warm sunny day in November is ironic, it’s not, unless it’s been warm and sunny in November after being cold and dreary all summer and early fall, and all of the summer and fall activities have closed down. Ironic that the only time the weather’s right to do them, they’re not open.

    And to the people who are arguing it’s just natural language shift when someone says “ironically, my name’s Matt, too”, there’s a difference between misusing a word in which there’s no real reason for language shift (either because of no new word to replace it or because changing too quickly would destroy communication) and natural evolution of a word over time. Nobody is arguing that “nice” should still mean foolish or that “let” should still mean prohibit, but if words shift every generation, then there is no communication. Let me give you an example.

    Today’s banana is totally full speed ahead tubular under the potato, wouldn’t you siphon? How indeed you wheel over the south arc into the long ken of rotary? It’s not ripped Alaska scarf over. At least the laundry was not Chihuahua-farting. And on Eastermas you throw in the napkin to be Pelias. Am I not a literally Pelias invisible?

    What? You can’t understand that? Get with the 21st century! Words change meaning because people use them a certain way, right? Isn’t that way people are arguing? It’ll be truly ironic when the people arguing for the change of ironic to mean “any amusing coincidence” won’t be able to understand my example sentence.

    Reply
  86. Matt -  July 21, 2013 - 12:52 pm

    To those who think a warm sunny day in November is ironic, it’s not, unless it’s been warm and sunny in November after being cold and dreary all summer and early fall, and all of the summer and fall activities have closed down. Ironic that the only time the weather’s right to do them, they’re not open.

    And to the people who are arguing it’s just natural language shift when someone says “ironically, my name’s Matt, too”, there’s a difference between misusing a word in which there’s no real reason for language shift (either because of no new word to replace it or because changing too quickly would destroy communication) and natural evolution of a word over time. Nobody is arguing that “nice” should still mean foolish or that “let” should still mean prohibit, but if words shift every generation, then there is no communication. Let me give you an example.

    Today’s banana is totally full speed ahead tubular under the potato, wouldn’t you siphon? How indeed you wheel over the south arc into the long ken of rotary? It’s not ripped Alaska scarf over. At least the laundry was not Chihuahua-farting. And on Eastermas you throw in the napkin to be Pelias. Am I not a literally Pelias invisible?

    What? You can’t understand that? Get with the 21st century! Words change meaning because people use them a certain way, right? Isn’t that way people are arguing? It’ll be truly ironic when the people arguing for the change of ironic to mean “any amusing coincidence” won’t be able to understand my example.

    Reply
  87. a.b. barnett -  July 14, 2013 - 5:37 pm

    I believe everything started with the distorted extrapolation of the term irony, which conceptually means hypocrisy, deception, and the action of feigning ignorance, as well as pretending or assuming an appearance. Now, unfortunately, due to scads of misinterpretations by deluded erudites, in lieu of utilizing more appropriate terms such as PARADOX or ANTINOMY, everything has been reduced to irony or ironic. As a matter of fact, the words paradox or paradoxical, actually refer to unexpected, self-contradictory or strange outcomes or events; whereas, saying something but meaning differently, constitutes an act of irony, a dissembling behaviour. As a clarifying note, the word EVOLUTION is not meant to be utilized within the context of malarkey nor much less to describe, neither individually or collectively, retrograde and derogatory aspects in our experiential stints on Earth; but rather, to point out a process that may allow us to become gradually improved; a process that enables us to unravel the warps of rust in order to roll out, or unfold, with ease from a Caliginous to an Illuming State. Hence, only that which adds allows us to evolve, improve; that which subtracts, drives us further into a dire involution.

    Reply
  88. a.b. barnett -  July 14, 2013 - 5:24 pm

    I believe everything started with distorted extrapolation of the term irony, which conceptually means hypocrisy, deception, and the action of feigning ignorance, as well as pretending or assuming an appearance. Now, unfortunately, due to scads of misinterpretations by deluded erudites, in lieu of utilizing more appropriate terms such as PARADOX or ANTINOMY, everything has been reduced to irony or ironic. As a matter of fact, the words paradox or paradoxical, actually refer to unexpected, self-contradictory or strange outcomes or events; whereas, saying something but meaning differently, constitutes an act of irony, a dissembling behaviour. As a clarifying note, the word EVOLUTION is not meant to be utilized within the context of malarkey nor much less to describe, neither individually or collectively, retrograde and derogatory aspects in our experiential stints on Earth; but rather, to point out a process that may allow us to become gradually improved; a process that enables us to unravel the warps of rust in order to roll out, or unfold, with ease from a Caliginous to an Illuming State. Hence, only that which adds allows us to evolve, improve; that which subtracts, drives us further into a dire involution.

    Reply
  89. Marie Flint -  July 7, 2013 - 4:43 am

    When we connect more with the heart than with the head, spoken language transgressions are, at least, forgivable. A higher demand occurs in writing because, relative to speech, the written word is more permanent; a written contract, for example (e.g.) has more influence in a court of law; whereas, a verbal agreement tends to be viewed as “hearsay.” We also have to allow for poetic license wherein new words are created and unrelated items can enhance imagery.

    Most abused word? I vote for “ain’t,” the contraction for “am not,” which is quite often substituted for “is not” or “are not.”

    Reply
  90. SMH Off | SMH Off -  June 28, 2013 - 11:55 pm

    [...] Is “ironic” – The Hot Word – Dictionary.com http://hotword.dictionary.com/Irony has to do with the discontinuity between what a speaker says and what s/he allows as possible meaning of what is said. Irony is a speach …… Smh….so when she did it to MEEEE, naturally, I was borderline offended. [...]

    Reply
  91. minecraftian -  June 25, 2013 - 8:03 am

    irony is when (on minecraft, i dont abuse animals in real life) you kill chickens by throwing eggs at them THAT is irony.

    Reply
    • Yasser -  June 22, 2014 - 1:10 pm

      Now that’s an example which cannot be improved upon. Thank you !
      SItuational Irony is by far the most common type we come across and this is a great example

      Reply
  92. zquiet -  June 21, 2013 - 12:06 am

    You’re so cool! I don’t believe I’ve truly read something like this before. So great to discover somebody with original thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the web, someone with some originality!

    Reply
  93. Jekisa -  June 15, 2013 - 10:57 am

    Haha, well the way I was taught about irony is this: A situation involving a cat stuck in a tree and a firetruck.
    Dramatic Irony (an outside knowing something but those involved having no idea would be: A firetruck driving right past the cat in the tree, while the owner groans in frustration.
    Verbal Irony: The owner- I am so happy my cat always gets stuck in trees.
    Situational Irony would be the firemen saving the cat from the tree and then accidentally running it over as they drive away.
    P.S. I think ‘literally’ is in the top five misused words category. People tend to use it to try and emphasize something but it drives me crazy! (No you were not literally on fire, that is metaphorical!)

    Reply
  94. John -  June 12, 2013 - 9:50 am

    From the comments, you can easily see how seriously people disagree on this issue. For this reason, it has long been my policy to avoid using the word entirely.

    Unless you’re ready for a fight or willing to let other people think you’re not intelligent, I recommend doing the same – no matter how sure you are of your interpretation.

    Reply
  95. Edward -  June 11, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    “Where does SARDONIC fit into this?”

    Sardonic is caustic sarcasim which is biting irony.

    IE on the scale of malicious intent it goes: irony -> sarcasm -> sardonicism

    Reply
  96. Miranda -  June 11, 2013 - 10:18 am

    The word ignorant. Some people use it as, rude, not, lacking knowledge.

    Reply
  97. ArtilleyTortoise -  June 11, 2013 - 10:13 am

    I agree on the lack of actual use of irony. And I have a situation where someone I knew had 100% attendence, but when they were giving out the certificate that person was absent.

    That my friends, is irony.

    Reply
  98. habibi -  June 11, 2013 - 9:18 am

    Where does SARDONIC fit into this?

    Reply
  99. Anonymous Commenter -  June 11, 2013 - 8:59 am

    The word “legitly” has gained undeserved popularity. I call it a word even though I know the proper and correct use is legitimately. However, it seems as if these abusers’ education taught them nothing and they believe they’re saying an actual word. Every time I hear this I cringe before hitting them in the face with a dictionary.

    Reply
  100. Joe Marfice -  June 11, 2013 - 8:29 am

    It’s not often that an author so quickly and totally proves themselves wrong.

    The article links to a definition of “ironic” in its first sentence – good form, for an article that purports to be criticizing misuse of an English word. Let’s look at one part of that definition:

    3. coincidental; unexpected: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.

    Now let’s look at the articles first two “mistaken use” examples:

    Often the word “ironic” is misused to remark on a coincidence, such as “This is the third time today we’ve run into each other. How ironic.” It is also mistakenly used to describe something out of the ordinary or unusual: “Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in November. It was really ironic.”

    Both are clearly coincidental and unexpected.

    The article proves itself incorrect in just two sentences, but goes on to screw that point to the sticking point with the third.

    Reply
  101. Derek -  June 11, 2013 - 8:16 am

    A word can ‘t be commonly missed. As soon as it is, that becomes one of its meanings. The evolution of language evolves from use, not what some sort of formality.

    Reply
  102. RCW -  June 11, 2013 - 6:36 am

    No! The most misused word is the use of “bring” when the right word is “take”.

    You’re in the office and tell someone, “When I go home tonight I must remember to “bring” my briefcase with me”. That’s wrong. And if you don’t know it’s wrong then you’re wrong.

    Reply
  103. TheLangaugeMajor -  June 11, 2013 - 5:34 am

    You’re completely wrong. That isn’t irony, that’s sarcasm.

    Irony would be…a cat lover is mauled to death by a pack of cats.

    An article on misuse of the word irony….completely butchers the use of thr word irony.

    Reply
  104. anthony -  June 11, 2013 - 4:20 am

    Ive read through this whole thread and somehow no one has mentioned structuralism.All words are given and receive their definitions based on their relationship with currently existing words and Iif a words meanIing shifts, so does the meaning of all of the words I shares a relationship with.

    The problem here is that many people are having difficulty understanding that whole the defjnition and usage of irony shifts, so to does the definition of the word youre anchoring it to; coincedence.

    The long amd the short of it, when you hear the word a meaning is conveyed and if hou think of another “better” word, you’ve actually alreadh received the information in the form of the undesired word, hence it made no difference.

    Sorry for the zpelling errors; I cannt spell and im on a phone so I cant be bothered to correct. Then again you understood everything anyways.

    Reply
  105. Reow -  June 11, 2013 - 3:38 am

    The idiots who wrote this article completely forgot situational irony, which is the most common form. For example, you buy the cheapest nasties meal available because you’re low on cash and it turns out to be the best meal you’ve ever had. That, is irony.

    Using irony to describe “stating the opposite of the truth” has fallen into complete disuse and has been replaced by “sarcasm”.

    Reply
  106. DP -  June 11, 2013 - 2:50 am

    Awesome definition of irony you have there, dictionary.com.

    That was sarcasm.

    Saying one thing while meaning the opposite is sarcasm, not irony. I don’t have a complete definition of irony, but I know it when I see it. I don’t know anyone who misuses it in speech.

    Meeting three times in one day is coincidence. Thinking that you’re not going to see your friend again for months, and taking hours to wrap up a birthday present for them and take it to the post office and stand in line, not to mention spending a chunk of money to mail it to them, and THEN meeting them by accident three times in three places later that day, and they’re carrying an empty knapsack the perfect size for the present, THAT’S irony. Saying “I’m SO glad I mailed that package to you!” at that point is sarcasm, not irony.

    I find it IRONIC that the only place I’ve seen it misused all year is in this article on dictionary.com.

    Reply
  107. Jeff -  June 11, 2013 - 1:34 am

    Where is Irony of the Fates? Everything I can recall from the much maligned Alanis Morissette song would qualify as Irony of the Fates, i.e. the gods just messing with you and your expectations.

    Reply
  108. jojo -  June 11, 2013 - 1:32 am

    A friend yelled at me for ‘misusing’ the word decimate.
    I said, “The Syrian Army decimated the rebels in Qusair.”
    “Decimate means to kill only 10%…GAWWWD!”

    Reply
  109. Danail -  June 11, 2013 - 12:49 am

    “Ironically, it was the best movie I’ve seen all year!” < this example is not very good. It could be a valid use of the word. For example the person might have claimed that this would be the worst movie ever. And that would make it ironic.

    Reply
  110. Sir Francis Weston -  June 4, 2013 - 1:09 pm

    Oh and whilst I am at it the most irrelevant statement in the language is probably, ” By and large.” We all know it is used to express generally but how on earth did we arrive at this mishmash because if you break these words down they all make sense but together no sense at all in my view.

    Reply
  111. Sir Francis Weston -  June 4, 2013 - 1:03 pm

    I agree with one or two other posts and find the word AWESOME tiresome in the extreme when misused so appallingly by Americans mainly. In my life I have been in awe of only a few things and these include visiting the Forbidden City and Angkor Wat to name but two of the very very few.

    To use this word in almost every other sentence is almost blasphemous in my view and seriously devalues its importance. I suppose however arbitrary agreement dictates the way a word changes its meaning and if enough people say it out of context enough times, it will eventually acquire another meaning and find its way into a dictionary as such. After all, nice was not very nice to begin with was it!

    Reply
  112. Cody -  May 30, 2013 - 10:35 am

    Indeed. I didn’t actually read more than two or three of the responses (hmm, I guess that makes three of four now, doesn’t it?) and sadly the responses I did read actually agreed with the article’s statements (there’s a blur between the words but that doesn’t change anything).

    The real reason I responded is (perhaps this is arrogance and being easily amused) I would hate to pass by a chance to satirise someone (especially when they are claiming that too many people confuse irony and sarcasm – which is similar to satire). Even if they are related (directly or otherwise) the truth is that language is always changing. If humans were to go back in time (say the 1500s – Shakespeare’s time) there would be much confusion because English has changed so much. The author of the article should think about THAT in addition to the inconsistencies with what their definition of irony is and their own dictionary.

    Reply
  113. Alice Thompson -  May 29, 2013 - 1:29 pm

    The most abused word is without a doubt “literally”. One of the phrases that annoy me the most is, “Oh My God, I literally had a heart attack!”
    I’m sorry, “Literally”?
    People don’t seem to understand the difference between a metaphor and literal meaning, or, more likely, they just decide to wilfully ignore it to make their ridiculous statement more realistic.
    Irony is used a lot but if you listen for the word literally I bet you’ll here it an awful lot more.

    Reply
  114. Chris -  May 27, 2013 - 3:22 pm

    It’s ironic indeed that the author of this article has failed to grasp the meaning of the word. Ana and Charles have already pointed out that the author’s example: ‘Or if you were suffering from a bad cold, you might ironically say: “I feel like a million bucks.” ‘ is sarcasm, not irony!

    The same goes for this example: ‘…if you were trying to be ironic on a stormy, dreary day, you might say: “What glorious weather!” ‘
    Poppycock!! This, again, is sarcasm!

    Reply
  115. Cody -  May 26, 2013 - 2:50 pm

    Of course, I meant “why change the letter S to the letter Z and keep the word the same” (I had at first worded it another way where the order was fine but I forgot to update that part after rewording it). Not that it makes much of a difference.

    Reply
  116. Cody -  May 26, 2013 - 2:46 pm

    “This sentence is used frequently — and usually incorrectly — in American English.”

    Well that is part of the problem right there, isn’t it? Why does Americanised English even exist? I mean why change the use of the letter z to s (and otherwise keep the word the same)? Why is it tire and not tyre? Color instead of colour? The list goes on. Of course the answer to all of the questions is well known: the clown Noah Webster thought the way words were spelt was just too complicated (he actually tried to change “women” to “wimmen” as one pathetic example).

    Never mind that though. The most amusing aspect of this post (and specifically where it IS posted) is that dictionary.com’s definition of irony (especially the fifth entry).

    i·ro·ny
    noun, plural i·ro·nies.
    1. the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning: the irony of her reply, “How nice!” when I said I had to work all weekend.
    2. Literature. a. a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.
    b. (especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes, etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.
    3. Socratic irony.
    4. dramatic irony.
    5. an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.

    Yet the author claims that It is also mistakenly used to describe something out of the ordinary or unusual (exact words in the entry). The author also wrote:

    “And, unfortunately, it is sometimes used to simply emphasize something interesting. For example, ‘Ironically, it was the best movie I’ve seen all year!’”

    Surely you know what context is? I don’t see how the example sentence is interesting (most certainly not only interesting even if it is an interest). When you consider context it might just be the case that the person speaking (or writing) did not expect the film to be all that great (compared to the others they saw in the year). In other words you already stated this use and how it is improper (but see below) making your entry less precise and redundant. Maybe redundancy is the word you could explain next?

    To add to that we also have to look at the listing of synonyms under dictionary.com’s definition of sarcasm. Why is that? The article here states the following:

    “Irony is often confused with sarcasm. While the two are similar, in sarcasm there is a stronger intent to ridicule or mock, often harshly or crudely.”

    Synonyms under sarcasm:
    1. sardonicism, bitterness, ridicule. See irony(1) . 2. jeer.

    To make things even more amusing you also wrote the following:

    “Situational irony is an outcome that turns out to be very different from what was expected.”

    Yet the word “situational” is an adjective. Of course an adjective is (in the word situational) a modifier and irony is not the only thing that can be situational. Not that that is really hard to understand if you actually understand what a “situation” is.

    Complete and utter failure. I admit it is quite a pathetic and hilarious failure though. Well done dictionary.com! Well done!

    Reply
  117. Joe -  May 20, 2013 - 12:35 pm

    Or what Jen said. (oops… Now *I’m* literally embarrassed!)

    Reply
  118. Joe -  May 20, 2013 - 12:34 pm

    Most abused? Oh there are so many. How about the recent abuse of the word “literally” as an emphatic way to say “really” or “very” — even when no figurative sense could have been mistaken for it?

    - I was literally embarrassed!

    -I mean, he literally almost hit me when he ran that stop sign!

    -He makes me sooooo angry. Literally!

    Reply
  119. Jen -  May 15, 2013 - 4:32 am

    An abused word that I frequently hear is “literal”. Often it’s used with idioms that use hyperbole of physical actions. For example, “When she called me in the middle of the night, I literally flipped my lid.”

    Reply
  120. Chenault -  May 12, 2013 - 3:12 pm

    This is fascinating,and,I tend to agree completely;BUT,what I find exceedingly annoying, and aggravating is this common MISuse of the word “Impact” and “Impacted” when people,clearly,have no clue,what-so-ever,as to the true meaning of the word,nor what it is they are trying to say. They just follow the unthinking herd of popular usage down the road of idiocy ! ! !

    Reply
  121. car insurance rates -  May 9, 2013 - 11:28 pm

    It’s fantastic that you are getting ideas from this article as well as from our argument made at this time.

    Reply
  122. Www.Mediafire.com -  May 6, 2013 - 4:14 am

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular article!
    It’s the little changes that produce the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  123. js -  May 5, 2013 - 1:35 am

    words are defined by their usage and meaning. ironically, those who use words in what would have been considered the wrong usage, with the wrong associated meaning, change the standard usage and meanings of the words they had formerly been misusing

    Reply
  124. Raudy -  May 3, 2013 - 4:39 pm

    For me, another abused word is “legit”

    Reply
  125. -_- -  April 24, 2013 - 8:07 pm

    examples of irony:
    taking the escalators to a 24-hour fitness gym.
    misspelling a word on dictionary.com
    a teacher spelling “February” as “Febuary”

    I have seen all these things and more

    and:
    “Today was a very cold and bitter day, as cold and bitter as a cup of hot chocolate, if the cup of hot chocolate had vinegar added to it and were placed in a refrigerator for several hours.”

    Reply
  126. -_- -  April 24, 2013 - 7:51 pm

    um. no contest. try counting the “um” ‘s a person says while speaking to an audience. even some teachers i know say this word way too much.

    Reply
  127. Awesomepossumpants woot woot -  April 24, 2013 - 6:22 pm

    I think if a driving teacher crashed their car that my friend is irony

    Reply
  128. Jill -  April 24, 2013 - 3:35 pm

    A good example is that we have this Chabot Space and Science Center, and a meteorite landed there. That’s ironic.

    Reply
  129. Rawson Harmon -  April 23, 2013 - 8:53 pm

    An example of physical irony —-> I will use an example to show: what some people may THINK is irony and then what REALLY is irony. Here it is: A person is afraid to fly. They decide to drive to their destination instead. They have an auto accident and unfortunately die. Some people would think that that is irony but it’s NOT. If however: They are driving to their destination and the very same plane that they would have taken crashes into the car and kills them – THAT IS IRONY!!

    Reply
  130. THE Caitlyn -  April 23, 2013 - 7:03 pm

    I think it should be able to evolve to an extent but not as far as it not even being close to its original meaning.

    Reply
  131. Carmen -  April 23, 2013 - 11:52 am

    Ironic is probably used incorrectly more often than it is used correctly.

    It does bother me when people say literally when they are discribing something that is not even possible. You cannot literally die of embarrassment.

    Something that really gets to me is when people write “of” instead of the contration ‘ve. eg I wish I could of come. It would of been so much fun. Arrrgh. Could have = could’ve. Would have = would’ve.

    Reply
  132. Wayne Boyce -  April 22, 2013 - 8:52 pm

    Don’t be so fussy. Irony has about 40 legitimate meanings. If a Department Store Santa dies on Christmas Eve, that is IRONIC. I know it is because I saw it on television.

    Reply
  133. Dictionary Lover -  April 22, 2013 - 5:12 pm

    Literally. Literally is also an extremely misused word. As in “I literally started to freak out when I found out I won the concert tickets.” You just freaked out! How is literally necessary?!

    Reply
  134. seo24 -  April 9, 2013 - 9:09 pm

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    Reply
  135. BC -  April 9, 2013 - 2:07 pm

    What about ‘Populate’, Currently being used by nerds as a substitute for Fill.
    i.e. Populate your screen with diagrams. Populate refers to people and nothing else.

    Reply
  136. PuddingRanger -  March 27, 2013 - 11:13 pm

    As a non-native English user, when i first listened to Alanis Morisette’s “Ironic”, I got so confused (until today) how could those situations in the song be ironic.

    It’s all clear now. :)
    Thank a lot!

    Reply
  137. J Keats -  March 22, 2013 - 8:07 pm

    Thank you!

    Next: literally

    Then: Like. The overly misused ‘like’ is making everyone sound as though they are speaking of a simulacrum!

    Reply
  138. Volition -  March 22, 2013 - 6:13 pm

    I LITERALLY hear Joe Biden abuse a word too much.

    Reply
  139. Johnny Ochani -  March 21, 2013 - 3:04 pm

    I like Susan’s submission of “amazing.”

    Reply
  140. Johnny Ochani -  March 21, 2013 - 3:02 pm

    I think the most abused word in English is basically. The runner up may be actually.

    The last paragraph of this article says: Do you agree with our assessment, or do you feel we need to let language evolve no matter how far usage drifts from a precise meaning? What other words or phrases receive such treatment? Let us know, below.

    It should be “…Which other words or phrases…” instead of “…What other words…”

    Reply
  141. Susan -  March 17, 2013 - 11:05 pm

    The most over used word in the english language is Amazing. It is over used to describe almost everything………..

    Reply
  142. RJ -  March 14, 2013 - 8:26 am

    define: irony=

    bunch of drunken idiots on a plane, dancing to a song made famous by a band that died… in a plane crash.

    Reply
  143. Charles -  February 26, 2013 - 10:01 pm

    “Irony” implies something inherently self-contradictory, as in the qualities of a setting, the results of an action, or a particular situation.

    “Sarcasm” refers to an intentionally stated untruth as a means of conveying a particular sentiment.

    Reply
  144. Astrogrrl64 -  February 25, 2013 - 4:19 pm

    I’m 12, and even I know what the true meaning of epic means. Epic IS most likely the most misused word in the English Language, not “Ironic” or “Irony”. Kids now think that it means “awesome”, when it really means “dramatic”.

    Reply
  145. Anonymous -  February 25, 2013 - 2:50 am

    “Oh my God” and “like” are overused.
    It’s all I ever hear, everday.

    Reply
  146. Aarthi -  February 24, 2013 - 7:32 am

    Amazingly I did misuse this word, now as this article mentions it. I used to believe that it is like opposite reactions, like oxymoron in poetry. I have used it with a rather sarcastic meaning most of the time. And I believe that this article does a good job in letting the readers know about the possible misuses and it is ideally the right way to correct and rechannel the usage of a language along the right lines. This is an essential job of those who are well-versed with language, like the writers here at Dictionay.com. I would really like to thank these amazing people and the website for helping us each day in improving our linguistic skills. Thanks a ton! :)

    Reply
  147. Dictionary Lover -  February 12, 2013 - 6:47 pm

    Personally, I think that the ultimate irony is most of the lyrics in a song called “Ironic” not being ironic at all.

    Reply
  148. meathead3 -  February 12, 2013 - 12:23 am

    The tide doesn’t stop, just flow with it. Example; a hundred years ago someone running down the street yelling “Stop that man he stole my faggot”, does not mean the same it would today. Stop tormenting yourselves.

    Reply
  149. George F. -  February 7, 2013 - 5:00 am

    I feel that the word actualy is overused.

    Reply
  150. Jose Chavez -  February 5, 2013 - 2:34 pm

    Humans have short attention spans…One word we memorize from our dictionary will stay with us forever though.

    Reply
  151. Saggy -  February 3, 2013 - 8:48 pm

    Irony: A ship crashing into a lighthouse.

    Reply
  152. blah -  January 26, 2013 - 11:51 am

    i’ve never seen anyone abuse ironic that much. Maybe once or twice…

    @niklas if you live in an english speaking country, people will use connotations of the word rather than denotations, causing the word to almost “change” definitions.

    Reply
  153. Niklas -  January 10, 2013 - 3:12 pm

    Am I being naïve or arrogant assuming that people should (and could easily) be brought up with a correct vocabulary? Learning words like these was, for me, always intuitive and I’m not even a native speaker.

    Although my language is only spoken by 6 million people I don’t attribute the fact that every and each of my countrymen can use a simple word like ‘irony’ correctly to the fact that we don’t share our language with as many (as English speakers do).

    Reply
  154. Mr. S -  January 6, 2013 - 9:58 am

    “Ironic” is not the most abused word in the English language.

    The most abused word in English is, without a doubt, “literally”. I have been noticing how badly abused it is since I was a kid, and it’s getting worse by the day. It’s getting rarer and rarer to hear someone use the term correctly, instead of just using it to add effect.

    Reply
  155. Hope -  December 28, 2012 - 11:26 am

    What about “like”? Shouldn’t that be the most abused word?

    “OMG, like, that was, like, the best movie I’ve seen in, like, my whole life.”

    Reply
  156. Kincaid -  December 19, 2012 - 12:16 pm

    Ha.
    It amuses me how people on here are arguing on whether or not the definition of the word is what it really means.
    It’s the definition; trust me, that’s what it means.

    Now, I would also like to point out all of you heathens that decided to comment on this thread, and didn’t even care for spelling correctly. Shame on you.

    This is dictionary.com, for all that is holy. The least you could do is have respect for their representation, if none can be found for yourself.

    Reply
  157. Matt -  December 16, 2012 - 6:18 pm

    Actually, I’d say the word moot is misused far more often than the word ironic. People do often use ironic correctly, even if it is used incorrectly often. The word moot is almost never used correctly. Moot means debatable, but everyone uses it to mean something that is useless to argue about.

    Another word that is misused constantly in the computer world is cloud. Cloud does not mean anything that is done over the internet. Cloud gaming would imply that many games were somehow sharing the same pool of data and meshing together, not just games that are being run from a server over the internet. Cloud storage would imply that you are storing information that many people could use and then draw from it to create something that will evolve as the data changes. The idea of a cloud is a collection of data that many people can access. Wikipedia is a great example of cloud implementation. Internet storage is not. I’m done ranting. <.<

    Reply
    • Pop Schlepp -  August 16, 2014 - 6:10 pm

      See #2.
      adjective
      1.
      open to discussion or debate; debatable; doubtful:
      a moot point.
      2.
      of little or no practical value or meaning; purely academic.
      3.
      Chiefly Law. not actual; theoretical; hypothetical.

      Reply
  158. Melissa -  December 14, 2012 - 9:07 am

    I just used ironic in a facebook post. Guess I used it wrong then.

    Reply
  159. sheen -  December 7, 2012 - 3:30 am

    i think “beautiful” is the most abused word..:)

    Reply
  160. SHayes -  November 27, 2012 - 9:52 am

    Cupcake Queen I’m sorry, but I doubt that you are. I know someone who is probably worse. Do you take someone’s paper from them to make sure they are correct on everything? Now I’m used to it because she and I are great friends. It makes me laugh when I see her do that to my little sister.

    Reply
  161. Haggis -  November 18, 2012 - 3:09 pm

    Ironic certainly deserves a place atop the pile of abused locution, but is it any worse than say “impact”?
    It seems we have countless numbers of people incapable of differentiating between “affect” and “effect”, or ignorant of their existence altogether.
    Thus the clumsy variations of “impact” abound.

    Reply
  162. Cupcake Queen -  November 16, 2012 - 5:16 pm

    Urgles. This is one of my biggest pet peeves! I am probably the biggest grammar freak EVER!

    Reply
  163. ADRIAN -  November 15, 2012 - 10:38 am

    that was wied to me to

    Reply
  164. VegasBeeLee67 -  November 14, 2012 - 2:19 am

    Yes, fulchy, but I’ve noticed it more in convos with younger people. So, I make sure to point it out to them and provide them with the correct meaning of ignorance, and any other faux pas they throw my way. I feel it is my duty. Is that wrong?

    For years, I have used the word “ironical”, sarcastically, thinking that it was a word I, myself, had created. It wasn’t until 2 years ago that I discovered the truth. It makes me sad, but I have stopped using the word “ironical”. Is that wrong?

    How about the phrases “I could care less” and “I would of, but…”
    It is so obvious that the user has no idea what he/she is saying that any other words they utter are utterly meaningless to me and therefore ignored. It’s like…ig-NOR-ance of IG-nor-ance. Get it?
    Very much like mainstream media anymore, which I religiously ignore.

    Reply
  165. zaynab -  November 10, 2012 - 8:50 am

    ok that was so weird i never really knew and btw why the hell do they care

    Reply
  166. Dweeb -  November 4, 2012 - 11:20 am

    First off, the term “literally” is called an contronym/contranym. (Spelling varies). You should look that word up because its meaning is more in depth than what I will explain. Okay, a contranym is a word that is also its own antonym. Sometimes, there are different ways in which it does this. For example, “Literally” literally means “in a literal sense” it also can be used for figurative purposes which changes the word to mean “figuratively.” Also, it can be used in place of the word “virtually” which is opposite of a literally sense. Look, the etymology of the word “literally” derives from “literal.” Literal: “taking words in their constant meaning.” I promise, all of this has a point. Literally is ironically a versatile term. In addition, it is often used to account for things that are not derived from literature/text. It contradicts its self. Thus, it confuses many people. The truth is, those who over use the term “literally” don’t know enough about the term; those who are irritated with abusers of the term, literally only know a very literal portion of its definition. To me, both parties are wrong. Rhetoric is beautiful and it should be studied more in depth. Think about how communication could metaphorically explode, if we all just spent a little more time to study GRAMMAR as a whole. By the way, Grammar is a vague term that covers many different aspects of language!

    Reply
  167. fulchy -  November 3, 2012 - 12:29 am

    I’ve always felt that ‘ignorant’ is the word most often used incorrectly.Folks tend to use it when they probably should be saying ‘rude’ or ‘tactless’.Anyone else?

    Reply
  168. Kelsy -  November 2, 2012 - 9:51 pm

    I think that the word awkward is also a word that is abused. The ‘in’ thing to say amongst the younger people is ‘The awkward moment when etc.’ and in most cases it isn’t actually an awkward moment, it’s usually a moment not worth mentioning.
    Some people say that they like to do there own thing and if they use the wrong word then oh well it’s not important but it really is important because if every person decided they would change the meaning of the word for themselves well that right there is the English language chucked out the door and people wouldn’t be able to communicate which is obviously and bad thing.

    Reply
  169. Roger Kohn -  October 31, 2012 - 8:03 pm

    “I was late precisely because I took the shortcut; the bridge was out.” That’s ironic!

    Reply
  170. SHayes -  October 24, 2012 - 10:30 am

    I learn this stuff in school every year and a lot of the students (including myself) are getting annoyed by it.

    Reply
  171. SHayes -  October 24, 2012 - 10:26 am

    It really doesn’t matter to me. :) Ppl may correct me and it wont bother me. I do things my way.

    Reply
  172. BOB (SAME AS JOE) -  September 25, 2012 - 1:24 pm

    ESC on September 6, 2012 at 12:56 am
    I noticed some of you use ‘irony’ while others use ‘ironic’. Are these two referring to the same word?
    Also, ‘ironic’ sounds like ‘iron’ but is totally unrelated to it. What are their word origins?
    And how did words like ‘ironic’ and ‘literally’ get misused in the first place? If they weren’t misused in the first place, none of this would have happened.
    P.S. ESC are my initials. I like to use them because of the ESC key on the keyboard.

    I THINK THERE’S A PLACE HERE WHERE YOU CAN FIND THE ETYMOLOGY OF A WORD. OR THAT’S JUST ANOTHER WEBSITE.

    P.S. IF I TYPE IN CAPS, I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT CAPITALIZATION.

    Reply
  173. Sonja -  September 24, 2012 - 10:08 am

    I think “random” is probably one of the top 5 most abused words. I got so frustrated with hearing it all the time to describe things that were not at all truly random that I gave up using it completely. Also, I think “epic”, “literally”, and “awkward” are very abused as well.

    Reply
  174. 7kud -  September 24, 2012 - 9:43 am

    Okay, I admit I do abuse it…but I always correct myself! I know right away after I say it, that I meant to say convenient. I actually try to use that word more often, so I can practice using it right. It’s a good technique!

    Reply
  175. Julie -  September 20, 2012 - 5:17 pm

    “Literally” is by far the most abused word I’ve ever heard. It makes me cringe every time, especially because people think they are clever for using it. “I literally died laughing,” or “His mom literally weighs five thousand pounds.” Beyond frustrating. The youth of America particularly need to be educated on the real meaning and usage of “literally.”

    Reply
  176. MissF -  September 19, 2012 - 2:22 am

    I disagree. I think the words “epic” and “literally” are misused FAR more often.

    Reply
  177. colin -  September 18, 2012 - 10:37 am

    who care how we use it. it makes sense to us. ain’t isn’t a word, but we still use it, and we understand it when its used.

    Reply
  178. Camilla -  September 16, 2012 - 8:04 am

    Great article! I agree, “ironic” is too misused, to the point where some people just use it willy-nilly.

    Reply
  179. Elizabeth -  September 9, 2012 - 2:16 pm

    I agree that the word ironic is used incorrectly much too frequently in the English language, but I would have to argue that “epic” is abused just as much if not more.
    Save the word for something that actually is, by definition, epic.
    Not when your neighbor jumps off a trampoline into a swimming pool and posts it on YouTube.

    Reply
  180. counseling san diego -  September 9, 2012 - 2:15 pm

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  181. 2hawks -  September 7, 2012 - 10:29 am

    You want an abused word? “Literally.” Do your next article on THAT one!

    Reply
  182. Eric Rhodes -  September 6, 2012 - 7:47 pm

    I apologize for the misuse of “your” and improper punctuation in my last comment.

    Now that’s ironic. (I hope)

    Reply
  183. Eric Rhodes -  September 6, 2012 - 7:42 pm

    What saddens me is that we are on a dictionary website, and some people misspell sarcasm. I’ve seen sarcism, and sarcassm.

    Another thing, I’m in 8th grade and the middle school use of “like” and the concept of “going out” are extremely annoying.

    Ex. “I really like that girl over there.”
    It seems stupid to me at first, but I suppose it’s all in the context. It’s not the same meaning as “I like chicken” You wouldn’t kiss a chicken breast now would you?
    “You should go ask her out!”
    Really? Really?!?! REALLY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? There is absolutely NO WAY your parents would let you date at your age, and even if they did your okay with showing up wherever you go and being chauffered by your parents?!?!?!

    Reply
  184. Greg -  September 6, 2012 - 1:15 pm

    Question:
    Why does dictionary.com list one definition of “ironic” as “coincidental” and have this article posted that completely contradicts that definition. I refer to the line that states irony is “misused to remark on coincidence”.
    A site that has such a large user pool and is generally reputable should not have such blatant contradictions within it.
    Well, which one is it dictionary.com. Is irony, or being ironic, interchangeable with coincidence or the perception of a coincidence?

    I suggest you revise either the definition or the article.

    Anyone else with me on this?

    Reply
  185. ESC -  September 6, 2012 - 12:56 am

    I noticed some of you use ‘irony’ while others use ‘ironic’. Are these two referring to the same word?
    Also, ‘ironic’ sounds like ‘iron’ but is totally unrelated to it. What are their word origins?
    And how did words like ‘ironic’ and ‘literally’ get misused in the first place? If they weren’t misused in the first place, none of this would have happened.
    P.S. ESC are my initials. I like to use them because of the ESC key on the keyboard.

    Reply
  186. Shannon -  August 16, 2012 - 12:29 am

    I can’t help but notice that the word “occurence” is spelled in the eleventh paragraph of this article. On dictionary.com—how ironic!

    How’d I do?

    Reply
  187. jbird -  August 15, 2012 - 1:44 pm

    What about the word “amazing”? I hear people say it about everything. If EVERYTHING is “amazing” then nothing is. :)

    Reply
  188. Christopher -  August 14, 2012 - 11:50 am

    I never thought of ironic as being chronically abused. My submission is impact. That word is excessively used and used incorrectly. It has a very limited and specific meaning. All too often, people will say, “What is the impact?” I don’t know, perhaps throw it against the wall and see if it leaves a mark. Others will say, “What is the negative impact?” Really? If we take what they say, then they are asking to negate a crater so in essence they are seeking a molehill or a mountain. Impact, like other abused words, are jargon and must be avoided.

    Reply
  189. Eileen -  August 12, 2012 - 10:33 pm

    Regarding the word “Ironic.” Is this not the definition from the Dictionary, in regards to the word ‘Ironic’?
    Definition:
    i·ron·ic
       [ahy-ron-ik] Show IPA
    adjective
    1.
    containing or exemplifying irony: an ironic novel; an ironic remark.
    2.
    ironical.
    3.
    coincidental; unexpected: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.

    …So if one were miss using it, the fault is in the dictionary’s definition of it. If you look at the 3rd example for use. The 3rd example clearly shows its not misused as per some examples given here.
    In another enlightenment, why not just use the word ‘Sarcastic’ to define the word; since it appears that is what is being expressed here, from what I can see.

    Reply
  190. Phil -  August 12, 2012 - 11:42 am

    I haven’t read all the comments in this highly entertaining thread, but I noticed that many point out the perceived irony that three examples of misuse are actually correct. They aren’t the situations could be ironic, but only with some additional details in place:
    “I was sure she never visited this town in Spring, yet ironically I have seen her three times today”
    Ironic only if it is clear that the encounters are unexpected as well as unusually frequent.
    “I expected to hate the movie, but ironically it was the best movie I have ever seen”
    Again, the irony is that the clearly stated expectation was directly opposite to the real experience.
    Yesterday I wore thermal underwear and an extra sweater for the first time this, ironically it turned out to be an exceptionally warm day for November.
    The pattern continues, the irony is present because the difference between expectation and reality is explicit.

    Reply
  191. DRF -  August 10, 2012 - 11:59 am

    In both British and U.S. English, those quotation marks in the title should go outside the question mark: When is it okay to say “that’s ironic”?

    Is it ironic that an article on correct English got this wrong? Or is it one of those borderline situational irony situations?

    Reply
  192. Sim -  August 10, 2012 - 9:50 am

    The author was referring to the thought process of the users of the word ironic. A person says how ironic it is to run into each other three times. They are not thinking, “i did not expect it to happen again even though it kept happening before”. They are thinking, “what a crazy coincidence”. They are therefore using it correctly by accident. This article can help us use it correctly on purpose.

    Same for November: the person making the statement is thinking “how strange” when they say “how ironic”. While I find “ironic” is a few pounds too heavy to apply to this example, I can understand where you could stretch this to being ironic. Therefore I say, this is an accidentally correct use of the word and therefore the speaker is wrong and needs to be corrected.

    Reply
  193. El Roberto -  August 5, 2012 - 11:39 pm

    Can no one here spell “sarcasm” correctly?! We are on dictionary.com for Pete’s sake! (Does that constitute irony?) Not to mention the fact that the word is printed in the very article on which you are all commenting.

    Anyway, add “peruse” to the list of misused words like “ironic” and “literally.”

    Reply
  194. Brian -  August 4, 2012 - 1:12 pm

    I think I cracked the nut on the “Irony vs Sarcasm” controversy…

    “For example, if you were trying to be ironic on a stormy, dreary day, you might say: “What glorious weather!” Or if you were suffering from a bad cold, you might ironically say: “I feel like a million bucks.” 99 out of 100 people would call that sarcasm.

    If the person saying it actually thought it was a dreary day or was suffering from a bad cold…it is sarcasm.

    However, if you witnessed someone that actually thought a dreary day WAS glorious weather, or felt like a million bucks when sick, that would be ironic.

    The intent of the statement makes the difference. : )

    Reply
  195. it -  July 31, 2012 - 3:47 pm

    the dictionary is what the populous makes of it

    Reply
  196. Philip Spencer -  July 28, 2012 - 1:46 pm

    I very seldom hear anyone use the word “ironic” as the author suggests. The words “literal” and “literally” are frequently misused, as Demosthenes and others point out.

    Reply
  197. Eric -  July 27, 2012 - 7:00 am

    While the points in this article are really strong, I find that I don’t get nearly as pissed with the wrong use of “ironic” than I do with “literally”. That, in my opinion, is truly the most misused word in English!

    Reply
  198. Sally -  July 20, 2012 - 8:40 pm

    I notice many people use the verb “lay” when they mean “lie”. You don’t LAY on your bed (unless you’re producing an egg in some birdlike manner there–unlikely), you LIE on your bed. I suppose it’s because the past tense of lie is (also) lay, so there are homophonous homonyms at work here, but still, I wish folks would get this right.

    LAY: laid, laid, laying
    lays .

    LIE: lay, lain, lying
    lies .

    Reply
  199. Kyle -  July 5, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    Oh, I guess I generally assumed the man was “literally ten feet tall.” I guess maybe he wasn’t?

    Reply
  200. Kyle -  July 5, 2012 - 6:56 pm

    Sorry but saying, “literally ten feet tall” is technically correct, it’s just unnecessary, much like my use of the word “technically.”

    Reply
  201. Janna -  July 2, 2012 - 8:16 am

    Totally agree! It’s one of my biggest pet peeves when people say “ironic” when they mean “coincidental”. I think the other most abused word today is “literally”. It’s used to say “very much so”, when that is, of course, not its meaning.

    Ex: “I literally died laughing.”
    “That guy is literally 10 feet tall!”

    NO, you did NOT “literally” die! You are still breathing! And no, he is not LITERALLY 10 feet tall–he’s just VERY tall.

    English major problems.

    Reply
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  204. Sunil -  June 12, 2012 - 9:38 am

    One of the most abused words as rightly pointed out from someone is ‘literally’. ” My head is literally laughed my head off. ” Oh is it? Then who’s the one talking to me?
    Also another word is ‘hmm’. People use it in place of oh or ok or mmm.
    Another is to use ‘ya’ instead of ‘yes’ or yeah. Whereas it really denotes ‘you’ or ‘your’.

    Reply
  205. Alexandra -  June 1, 2012 - 9:27 pm

    Hands down, the word is ‘like’. Like is SO incredibly overused, mostly by teenagers. “I was like, yeah. And he was all like, yeah. And like it was totally like, an awkward moment, like so totally awkward!” It bothers me so much when my friends, or anyone for that matter, uses ‘like’ in a sentence more than necessary, but then again I find myself doing the same thing.

    Reply
  206. jade rice -  May 30, 2012 - 11:04 pm

    oh i get it. saying the opposite of what is meant, but not being sarcastic at all.

    Reply
  207. Ravi Singh -  May 24, 2012 - 5:12 am

    “Ironic” is the most confused word i ever came across..hardly any people know when to use this word correctly.!!

    Reply
  208. Mia -  May 20, 2012 - 10:55 pm

    Ironic may be much-misused, but the one that currently bothers me the most is fulsome. According to dictionary.com, it has five meanings:

    1. offensive to good taste, especially as being excessive; overdone or gross: fulsome praise that embarrassed her deeply; fulsome décor.
    2. disgusting; sickening; repulsive: a table heaped with fulsome mounds of greasy foods.
    3. excessively or insincerely lavish: fulsome admiration.
    4. encompassing all aspects; comprehensive: a fulsome survey of the political situation in Central America.
    5. abundant or copious.

    …with #5 being the oldest. Ironically (and I believe I’m using the word correctly), I’ve heard several politicians use “fulsome” in sense #4.

    The irony comes in because (at least in my idiolect), the primary meaning is #3, with #1 coming close behind it. Hence, for me, “a fulsome survey of the political situation in X” could be reworded as, “an insincerely lavish survey, offensive and lacking in good taste, of the political situation in X” — far from what the politicians mean, if they only knew.

    Reply
  209. Demosthenes -  May 19, 2012 - 7:36 pm

    Again with the votes (see my post on Pluto’s 4th moon). Nobody pays attention to the thousand or so comments on this. Anyway, literally is used/misused/abused/whatever you want to call it far more than ironically, and “lol” surpasses both of these. Combined. The phrase is grossly overused. Text messaging, you name it. I’ve even seen it interspersed within these comments themselves, about which word/phrase is most misused. Correct me if I’m wrong, but THAT’S ironic. I mean, how often are people actually laughing out loud when texting this. By now, the acronym should be IALOLAIWTTSMSTOPCHM or “I’m ACTUALLY laughing out loud as I write this text, so much so that other people can hear me.” And if you REALLY wanted to be accurate, all the “I”s would be lowercase. Get the picture? This language’s dignity has been shredded already. Let’s not make it worse. Leave out your LOLs, people. And your ironics, literallys, and anything else that makes English look disgraceful. Trust me. It’s better that way.

    Reply
  210. Charlie G. -  May 16, 2012 - 9:54 pm

    I agree that nowadays, “irony” is misused much more often than it is used correctly, especially by younger people who aren’t well-versed in literary grammar or the dramatic arts.

    But what I’ve been wondering is if there is an existing word in the English language that should be or could be used in place of “irony/ironic” to describe something that is bizarrely coincidental and/or contradictory?

    I’d bet good money that there is a word in French and/or German that could fit the bill, but sadly I speak neither language, and so the Internet’s guess is as good as mine.

    Reply
  211. Jim -  May 16, 2012 - 3:33 pm

    Does anyone here take a minute to stop and think that perhaps the reason why no one uses the word ironic correctly is because of the poor educational system we have in place in the United States, just saying!

    Reply
  212. PJ -  May 13, 2012 - 8:18 am

    is this ironic? my brother used to beat me up because i was smarter than him and knew more words. So I called him a ‘pugnacious ignoramus’, and he beat me up.

    That one was worth it.

    Reply
  213. Me -  May 9, 2012 - 12:13 am

    I’d have to say the most abused word is racist…
    If I say anything that contains the word ‘black’, ‘asian’, ‘african’ or any other in any circumstance, I can expect a chorus of “RACIST!!!” coming from my friends or peers. These are descriptive terms, and they are only racist if I use them with derrogatory comments about that race, which i am proud to say, i dont do.

    Reply
  214. Renira -  May 3, 2012 - 6:53 am

    So many people my age don’t know the meaning of the word ironic, and then our English teacher has to devote an entire class period to the proper use of the word. It’s soooo stupid. If you don’t know the meaning of the word, then just don’t use it.

    Reply
  215. Jordan -  May 1, 2012 - 6:46 am

    I agree. Many people don’t know the actual meaning of irony.

    Reply
  216. RH -  April 19, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    Although it is a tad antiquated, the word PENULTIMATE is misused — primarily by those in management having achieved their verbal Peter Principle. A simple way to avoid would be to say it simpler: next to last. Too often it seems their tiny brains fixate on “ultimate” which ironically points in the opposite direction due to its Latin prefix “pen” when properly used. Smile, grimace, choke — especially if it is your immediate report. If its the company comptroller, sell all your stock.

    Business emails are fecund in sheer chaotic disregard for the native tongue. Misspellings and typos aside, Lady Malaprop on Acid best describes the contemporary interoffice electronic memo that has more shelf-life than the half-life of uranium. . . Truly a modern Tower of Babel.

    Reply
  217. LK -  April 15, 2012 - 6:10 pm

    I agree also that Irony is the most abused word

    Reply
  218. E -  April 13, 2012 - 9:42 am

    My brother misuses the word original….
    I HATE it. I wish it weren’t so.

    Reply
  219. Anonymous -  April 10, 2012 - 3:19 pm

    love is the most abused word in English, in my opinion. And also I don’t know anyone who uses the word ironic in any of the incorrect ways or examples you were refering to…

    Reply
  220. Ana -  April 9, 2012 - 9:57 am

    I think ironic should be used for the warm, sunny day and November, but not for when a person says they feel great when they really have a cold. That’s sarcasm.

    I don’t mind when words evolve a little bit. That’s just how life goes: everything evolves. But when words change completely. . .meh.

    I personally think Ironic should not be used instead of coincidence or sarcasm, but it should be used in a situation when the opposite happens of what you think will, even though the dictionary.com people said not to.

    Reply
  221. Zepha -  April 9, 2012 - 9:22 am

    THE TOP MISUSED WORDS ARE:

    1. EPIC

    2. IRONIC

    3. LITERALLY

    4. TOTALLY

    5. LIKE

    Reply
  222. Abbygal -  April 2, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    I understand language is not stagnant, but learning to use it properly gives one the license to expand and experiment, which does not produce the same result as the sloppy ignorance that is so prevalent today. The word I think is most overused is “unique”; “very unique” is uniquely annoying!

    Reply
  223. Hi i rox -  March 31, 2012 - 6:31 pm

    Big props to Celyn for the way funny joke! I like a funny guy!

    Reply
  224. Hi i rox -  March 31, 2012 - 6:26 pm

    Hi Harry Potter! You know how much people say I just LOVE that! when they don’t actually want to marry it? Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person, NOT a synonym for really like, and why would you feel that way towards a car? Come on, people! Get it right! Seriously!

    Reply
  225. NatalieEGH -  March 29, 2012 - 10:30 pm

    I find it interesting that the use of ironic in place of coincidental is being challenged by the article author. Looking up ironic on this site it yields the following information:

    i·ron·ic [ahy-ron-ik]
    adjective
    1. containing or exemplifying irony: an ironic novel; an ironic remark.
    2. ironical.
    3. coincidental; unexpected: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.

    As to definition as I learned the word it is more like a situation described above by Chad “Would it be ironic if I would cut my hand on a First Aid box?” that is to say something having one purpose by achieving the exact opposite.

    As to suggestions we control the language, why? Are we to become as the French with a governmental office that officiates over words and usage? I say no.

    One of the true beauties of the English language is how dynamic it is. This does lead to misinterpretations over time. Like the interpretation of Matthew 5:5 as “Blessed are the mousy, for they shall inherit the earth.” versus the original meaning of the word meek which yields “Blessed are the disciplined for they shall inherit the earth.” using disciplined to mean those who have suffered adversity and come through it with more strength of character and acceptance of the rules (God’s rules) that can not be changed.

    To charges I do not care about the value of words, I submit, I can read and understand Shakespeare, Spencer, and Chaucer as easily as I can Dr Seuss (sometimes easier). I protested the use of adjectives truth, beauty, strangeness, and color being used to describe quantum states. Science should be the realm of exactness not waxing poetic. I get furious when I see signs like “Home made donuts”, when it is obvious they are made at the place and they meant they were prepared like home made. (I even asked a person once whose home they were made at and if the kitchen was inspected by the health department and all family members properly trained in sanitation standards required for a kitchen that prepared food for commercial sale. They threatened to call the police on me.) I love studying the etymology of words and when I used to live near a library that had the complete Oxford English dictionary, I would often spend hours reading it.

    I feel the very dynamic nature of the English language is its greatest strength. 100-150 years ago, we would never have said someone was sad unless we were talking about their weight. Poets by using first “sad hearted” and then just sad created the common meaning today while relegating all other definitions. The world with its rapid change in science, technology, and daily toys is changing so fast, the language must allow for be freely dynamic. I have ready the average English speaker has a English vocabulary of about 25k words with a normal working vocabulary of about 5k words. We introduce hundreds if not thousands of new concepts each year. If we did not allow rapid change in the language, while becoming more exact, it would also soon become unwieldy.

    Reply
  226. Celyn -  March 29, 2012 - 3:01 pm

    Here’s a joke about irony for you guys to ponder on.

    Guy 1: “Hey man, I’ve been busy building an irony detector for weeks now but it isn’t working!”
    Guy 2: “That sucks! What’s wrong with it?”
    Guy 1: “It detects everything except irony.”

    Reply
  227. Raelynn -  March 29, 2012 - 10:02 am

    my brother won’t believe me that he uses ironic wrong even though my english teacher told me the correct way to use it. he’s a know-it-all so he hates it when i say he did or said something wrong.

    Reply
  228. readermom -  March 28, 2012 - 6:18 pm

    Hero is the most overused and abused word. Everyone is a “hero” these days. I think it is a terrible misuse of the word and it takes away from the meaning when someone is a true hero like a soldier serving in the military.

    Reply
  229. Haoi -  March 28, 2012 - 5:12 am

    I find it ironic that this article misuses the word ‘ironic’ in the sense that it is sarcasm… when it tries to point out that it isn’t…

    You can’t describe irony, you can only learn it.

    Reply
  230. Homar -  March 23, 2012 - 5:39 pm

    Patrick 99/100 people dramatize statistics haha

    Reply
  231. XfildChild -  March 23, 2012 - 12:55 pm

    Wow, I’ve totally been basing my definition of irony off of Alanis Morissette’s song! If she was wrong, then so am I!!

    Reply
  232. bo -  March 23, 2012 - 8:13 am

    that is so true jodie!!!!!

    Reply
  233. jodie -  March 20, 2012 - 11:25 am

    i think epic is another word that is missused a lot is ‘epic’
    many people use the word epic to describe something that is good or cool although epic means big…. one of my friends saw a very small phone and called it epic!(is that irony?)

    Reply
  234. al -  March 20, 2012 - 6:53 am

    irony an example; a guy buys a gun for self protection and someone breaks into his house and shots him with it.

    Reply
  235. Kayla -  March 19, 2012 - 7:20 pm

    I think that if I used “ironic” in the way it is meant to be used, no one would understand me. But, I guess I’ll take that chance. . . .Also, I think there is one word that is abused almost as much as “ironic” and that word is “awesome”. It technically means “awe-inspiring”, and while I agree that my friend’s new iPhone may be “cool”, it’s a little short of “awe-inspiring”.

    Reply
  236. Me -  March 19, 2012 - 4:04 pm

    Is ironic being misused? In my opinion, semantic shift has occurred. Words like “awesome” and “absolutely” have also undergone semantic shift.

    Reply
  237. galensdad -  March 19, 2012 - 9:06 am

    Awsome and absolutely are the most scabrously misused words in the language.

    Reply
  238. Jo -  March 16, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    Totally agree, Mike!

    Reply
  239. Mike -  March 15, 2012 - 11:17 pm

    What is it with people in society (and this message board) using the idea of “evolving” to dismiss everything? Like “Oh, words evolve so…” So what? So we should stop trying to preserve their correct usage or meaning? Ironically, if everyone did take that attitude, and used words willynilly — because, they evolve so there’s no use trying to get it right — then words would become meaningless and useless and the so-called evolution of words would come to a halt. Saying things “evolve” just means you don’t care, and if you don’t care, stay out of the way of those who do care.

    Reply
  240. Mike -  March 15, 2012 - 10:48 pm

    To SergioM: “Reiterate” is a word, that’s why people use it! What do you mean you can just say “iterate”?

    Reply
  241. Mike -  March 15, 2012 - 10:24 pm

    I think I know why the alleged (above) ironic scenarios “hot, nice day in November” and “Movie was good, though I thought it would be bad” fall flat in terms of irony is this: Irony is a literary term/idea; therefore, it has to be set up literally, that is, its elements explicitly stated. (In dramatic irony, that is done visually or verbally.) In situational irony, it has to be set up so it’s clear that a) it was indeed unexpected, and b) that what occured was opposite of what was expected.

    In the Hot day in November example, it fails for two reasons: First, categorically, there is only a vague or general expectation of what the weather should be; and it often is unseasonably hotter/colder/drier/wetter than it “should” be. Second, we are given no explicit or specific reason, beforehand, why the person in the scenario thought the weather should be otherwise, except for a general expectation, as I’ve stated.

    In the Movie example, again, it’s generally understood at the start that a movie will be good or bad, that a person will like or dislike it; so, the expectation element of this supposed ironic scenario is on its face too vague to conjure a real feeling of irony. It has to be more specific in order to make the irony stronger.

    So, in these two examples the expectations are too vague or general — there really isn’t a clear expectation; and without a clear expectation there can’t be a clear “opposite” to the expectation. There has to be a very specific expectation, stated or set up beforehand.

    Reply
  242. Mike -  March 15, 2012 - 3:44 am

    Most abused word in English? “Evolve”

    (I wonder what the word will mean in a few years…. Wouldn’t it be ironic if it came to mean @#$@%!)

    Reply
  243. Mike -  March 15, 2012 - 3:17 am

    I think this example of “November cold day, someone says ‘what a nice day’” or “went to see a movie thinking it would be bad and it turned out good” set of examples is NOT irony, and for this reason: the problem is I don’t think irony can apply to the person experiencing it; it can be coincidental or unexpected to the person, but not ironic; I think only a third party/person can experience irony, someone outside the scene or situation; it’s sort of a triangulation of expectations among the people involved…..

    Also, i think the movie and the NOvember nice day examples also seem to show that irony has to involve some observable action or outcome; and in these two examples, it’s only THOUGHTS/WORDS that are at play, not observable events.

    Reply
  244. Mike -  March 15, 2012 - 3:03 am

    On a comment discussion post about abuses of words, a youngster (above) ends his post stating, “BTW, I’m a 7th grader.”

    Now that’s ironic.

    Reply
  245. Mike -  March 15, 2012 - 2:42 am

    I think the key to irony is its having to be “incongruous” AND diametircally “opposites” in even/nature; the example toward the top of this post of a driver who crashes his car into a billboard about safe driving is a good example of being ironic (and there is nothing sarcastic about it). Safe driving vs. unsafe driving.

    Reply
  246. Carley -  March 14, 2012 - 10:19 am

    I don’t know how many times I hear that song by Alanis Morissette and get frustrated about how ironic the song actually is since nothing that happens in the song is actually ironic… just bad luck.

    OH THE IRONY.

    Reply
  247. Erie -  March 14, 2012 - 9:52 am

    Whether or not we like it, words change.
    Gay used to mean full of joy and carefree to the something else and the last I hear it seemed to me “stupid”
    Silly went for blessed to innocent to harmless to weak to feeble minded to foolish
    Go to online etymology dictionary. com
    Words change form generation to generation and from country to country.

    Reply
  248. Grammer Freak! -  March 14, 2012 - 8:32 am

    The most misused word in my school is “FAIL” . When someone slips, “fail”. When someone does something wrong, “Fail!” It is WAY too over used!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  249. Russell Morris -  March 14, 2012 - 7:58 am

    Ironically, the articles examples would be classed as misuse – at least here in England.

    “Ten thousand spoons, when all you need is a knife” would be regarded as ironic.
    A downpour during a weatherman’s wedding, when sun was forecast, would be ironic.

    The article examples are merely sarcastic.

    Reply
  250. Evan -  March 14, 2012 - 6:15 am

    Would you call it ironic that so many people use the word ‘ironic’ without understanding its true meaning?

    Reply
  251. Me -  March 14, 2012 - 6:13 am

    Interesting. your friend sarahandlacey!

    Reply
  252. NinjaPrittyOnee -  March 13, 2012 - 10:33 pm

    @Bethany, yes, irony is considered the “unexpected”; however, even though November is expected to be “cold and dreary” and not “warm and beatiful”, its not neccesarily the total opposite b/c the wheather is something that always fluctuates and you cant always expect a specific kind of wheather, in which would not be described irony. Irony is hypoctical in a sense, something with a specific purpose or direction, in which that purpose/direction causes the outcome to be/ or is the exact opposite. Ex: A married man wants to have an cheat, but doesnt want the hassle of dealing with “another woman”, with all the lies of stringing her along, and taking the RISK of his wife finding out; so he decides he wants a “no strings attatched” type of affair, so he calls the escort service, and when the woman knocks on his hotel room, it’s his wife’s sister! with the irony being that, because he chose the outlet of excort services to keep his secret from his wife, it caused him to put himself in a situation where his wife is DEFINITELY going to find out. A coinsidence would be if he wasnt married and he just happened to know the excort personally, however, being that he ordered excort services to prevent a certain outcome caused the very outcome he was trying to prevent to occur. Now that’s IRONIC!

    Reply
  253. Jake -  March 12, 2012 - 6:03 pm

    I live in Chicago and work mostly with people 20-50 yr old. I don’t hear literally used or misused that often. Is this a regional thing or more prevalent among younger folks or seniors or something

    Reply
  254. Jake -  March 12, 2012 - 5:45 pm

    Random gets my vote.
    After reading Neil Stephenson’s Crytonomicon and being made aware of not only how rare truly random is, how important it can be (think cryptography and the importance of guarding some information). To hear hear about some random guy or conversation or whatever makes pull a scoobydoo (go ahead and give the correct spelling of his catchphrase exclamation of surprise). 90% of the time it’s the antithesis of random. As someone above said, it’s not random it’s arbitrary. And it’s just the simple fact that as I said… It’s SO FAR FROM RANDOM. Emily McWhoresAlot didn’t talk to to a random guy. She didn’t didn’t walk into a room where everyone had raffle tickets, grab one from a hat and say the number into a loudspeaker. (Note this isn’t random either, people in said location are a small percentage of people. The percentage is made smaller by the fact that only those listening can respond. Of those, not all will necessarily respond and further more, non-randomness is inherent in something like a raffle system for a myriad of reasons)

    Reply
  255. Phoebus -  March 11, 2012 - 10:13 am

    They couldn’t have taken an extra paragraph, or maybe even a sentence or two, to enlighten us further on “situational irony”? After all, it is “most prone to misunderstanding/abuse,” don’t you think that a one-sentence review of situational irony might not be as helpful to the general public that so grossly misuses the word as, say, an example of its proper/improper use? I feel as though that’s pretty important if you’re so adamant about getting people to know how to use these words correctly.

    Reply
  256. Raja -  March 4, 2012 - 5:57 am

    It would be ironic if Lynne Truss’ book had many errors of punctuation.
    The same if a doctor who advises others to eat healthy food is seen frequenting fast food outlets. It was ironic that the Marlboro man who glorified smoking in advertisments encouraging that lifestyle, died of cancer.
    It would be sarcastic to tell a not too pretty girl “Oh, sure, you’ll be thw winner of the beauty contest”.

    Reply
  257. Rugbykats -  March 3, 2012 - 6:44 am

    Sorry on the post above. I pasted in Curious’ comment from two posts above, but I used the angle brackets (greater than-less than symbols) to surround it, and it didn’t show up.

    Reply
  258. Rugbykats -  March 3, 2012 - 6:42 am

    Curious said:

    As the sentence and situation are presented, there is not evidence enough to know. However, if you had refused to see the movie at some point because you thought it would be terrible, or if you had never liked a movie with that director or star actor, or some other situation existed that suggests you expected the movie not to satisfy, then you are correct. That would indeed be irony.

    Reply
  259. Mackenzie -  March 2, 2012 - 12:50 pm

    For the 1st comment ever on this article- nobody says courting anymore they say dating…..

    I only learned the word ironic this year and im in middle school…so uh…yeah….i dont really use this word so i really have no idea y im commenting on dis…whatever. i only used the word ironic in a real life situation when i was asked to write about an ironic event in a passage for practice for my state test (NJASK!!!!!!!!!GO NEW JERSEY!) so yeah

    Reply
  260. Curious -  March 2, 2012 - 11:45 am

    Wouldn’t the sentence “Ironically, it was the best movie I’ve seen all year!” be the correct usage of ironic as it is “is an outcome that turns out to be very different from what was expected”?

    Reply
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  262. 123ery -  February 29, 2012 - 5:11 am

    it seems that most people (me included) use irony when something happens that was expected or wasnt normal. like the example
    “Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in November. It was really ironic.” because if everyone said it would rain and were expecting rain but it didnt thats like Situational irony, but your saying its not. id like to know the word we should use to replace peoples everyday use of irony. i liked this because it helped me fix a mistake i do make =D

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  264. Tony Robertson -  February 27, 2012 - 6:34 pm

    In many dictionaries they define ironic as coincidental, unexpected, or odd. I watched something where they did a short history of the word, and apparently it has been used vaguely like this for 150 years. So it’s definition of being just a reversal in what was expected has not been its only true meaning for a very very long time.

    Reply
  265. Mike -  February 25, 2012 - 11:33 am

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  266. Katie -  February 23, 2012 - 8:31 pm

    As a dictionary, you should know that language changes over time. You can’t go complaining every time somebody slightly changes the meaning of a word. That’s how it goes. If it didn’t work that way, we’d all still be speaking Greek. Let nature do what it does and forget about “properness” and “abusing words”: it’s just silly

    Reply
  267. John K -  February 23, 2012 - 8:15 am

    Sportscasters/writers are the biggest culprits misusing irony, ironic, et al. when typically meaning coincidence. Then, again, being former jocks simply schooled by watching dimwits like Chris Berman (or anyone on ESPN) rather than learning language or application …

    George Carlin had the greatest example for irony: A diabetic on his way to the pharmacy is run over by an insulin truck. Beats the old “burning firestation” or “police officer under arrest” examples!

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  269. Alexis Jones -  February 21, 2012 - 5:09 pm

    There are a lot of words that a lot of people misuse every day. Some that irks me(and one I use of my own) is like- So like I went to the mall and like I saw her there, so I was like what’s up, and it was like totally crazy!! 2.) Seriously- I seriously don’t understand this, like what’s up with this, like seriously!! One of my “friends” does that EVERY SINGLE DAY- can you imagine having to hear about that shiznell every single day?? Booo……

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  271. Mike -  February 19, 2012 - 6:49 am

    Oh I think that is a great explanation which begs you explain why the third definition in your online dictionary reads as follows:

    3. coincidental; unexpected: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.

    What gives?

    Reply
  272. Clyde -  February 17, 2012 - 8:52 am

    I am happy to run upon your clarification of the meaning of “ironic.
    I cannot begin to count the times I felt that my understanding of “ironic” is misguided while listening to others in conversation. In my effort not to show my ignorance, arrogance, and discourteousness, I usually keep mum and flagellate myself for my short comings.
    “Peruse” is another word that causes me no little pain. I understand it to mean, to read thoroughly, but I too often find used to mean scan. These two uses are diametrically opposed in meaning.
    And this brings me to my true purpose for commenting. Up until about 1983 I could remember, after much thought and search, a term that described this evolution of a word’s meaning from one to another that is opposite from the former.
    You wouldn’t happen to know what this word is, would you?

    Clyde

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  274. ani -  February 13, 2012 - 8:44 pm

    awesome is definitely overused but not misused. We say everything is awesome even if it did not fill you with very much awe. i hate when people misuse ironic. It makes you sound so slow to people who actually know what it means. My english teacher misuses it all the time… ironic, huh? <<< bazinga.

    Reply
  275. Sporty Chic -  February 13, 2012 - 5:27 pm

    Yeah, ironic is a pretty abused word. But it would help if you actually gave some (good) examples of how to use it correctly.

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  278. dame -  February 6, 2012 - 11:32 pm

    ‘Wow, how ironic the way people use the word ironic…’

    Can I say that way? However, I most disturb by hearing people use the word ‘funny’ when they mean something not funny at all… that is so ironic??

    Reply
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  280. me8 -  February 5, 2012 - 12:33 pm

    How many times can people misspell the word “sarcasm?”

    You people are so stupid!!! Don’t go criticizing other people unless you know what you’re talking about! (And no, reading this article once and understanding the meaning of irony for the first time does not qualify you as an expert on the English language.) So, to all the people who said that the “seeing the same person three times in one day” example is ironic: no it’s not!!! Unexpected and ironic DO NOT mean the same thing, no matter what you say or how you manipulate it or how may “what if” examples you give!!! (By the way, although this is somewhat debatable, I believe that sarcasm IS a form of verbal irony.)

    Also, although it is certainly not very intelligent-sounding to use the words “legit,” “epic,” etc. frequently, there is a difference between using those words and misusing the word ironic. People realize that legit and epic don’t literally mean “cool” (another slang word, but it’s the best way to describe them); that’s why people don’t use them for formal speaking and writing, such as schoolwork and speaking with your teacher or boss. Although people aren’t very smart, many of them aren’t very stupid, either–I know plenty of people who could correctly use “legitimate” and “epic” in a sentence. Anyway, misusing ironic is quite different from using slang words because people do this unknowingly; many of them assume that they are using it correctly, when in actuality they aren’t.

    This is why many dictionaries define certain uses of certain words as “slang,” but none of them give the incorrect definition of “irony” that many people use. This, I believe, is the “line” where one should “draw the line” between language evolution and lazy ignorance.

    Finally, there is a good reason why so many of us seem to think that everything is ironic: the definition of irony is not as rigid as that of many other words. In fact, if you want to learn the meaning of irony, it is better to look up some examples than to look it up in the dictionary. This is because it is something that should be decided on a case-by-case basis, and, depending on how you look at it, some situations could be called ironic by one person and not ironic by another, and neither person would be incorrect.

    Reply
  281. Joe -  February 4, 2012 - 9:19 am

    Right that the word “irony” is misused in the vast majority of cases, but completely wrong definition; this is another typical example of falling short of irony, whether coincidence, self-reference, second-level meaning. In this case, saying “What nice weather!” on a stormy day is still sarcasm, even though there’s no malicious intent.

    It’s tough to define irony, but it’s more like a situation that backfires because – and moreover in spite of – extra efforts towards the desired outcome.

    Maybe irony has a weaker meaning in the US – but I find this definition yet another misuse of the word.

    I still love dictionary.com!
    Joe x

    Reply
  282. Irony -  January 30, 2012 - 4:58 am

    Isn’t it ironic how Ironic is the most misused term in the dictionary

    Reply
  283. Lou -  January 21, 2012 - 5:39 am

    The most abused word in the English language today is “reticent”, which is turning into a synonym for “reluctant”.

    Reply
  284. Ndev -  January 19, 2012 - 3:48 am

    I agree, irony(ironic) is one of those words people hear a lot from movies, music or tv shows, thus it’s use in everyday conversation is at a criminaly high level of misuse. I too am guilty of these crimes (not with irony) however, I enjoy being corrected when I’m wrong, it upsets me when people take an offense, choose to remain ignorant and do not want to hear it’s correct meaning of the word.

    I also agree Irony is so rare that it’s usually a moment worth mentioning when it does. I thought, while watching the “intervention” show on the bio channel, It would be ironic if the people who accepted to get help with their addiction from drugs/alcohol/etc before they killed themselves with their vice, if the “intervention” transporting van crashed and killed them while trying to reach the clinic or airport. Grim, I know and apologize. Though that would be ironic.

    Reply
  285. Ruth -  January 13, 2012 - 4:25 pm

    Any other word would have spawned a new entry in the dictionary by now. Isn’t that the thing about language anyway…it’s always changing. What surprises me is that purists have held onto this word in particular for so long. Why ironic? Maybe it is because the idea of complaining about improper English has its roots in England, as does ironic humor. So perhaps this is really a battle over protecting “the Queen’s English” as well as the fundamental building blocks of English society.

    Reply
  286. KDB2 -  January 12, 2012 - 5:30 am

    Sarcasm is mentioned in the article about “ironic” but I know that for some time, my daughter confused sarcasm and facetious. It took a couple of mild corrections before she stopped using sarcasm when she meant facetious.

    Reply
  287. Josh -  January 10, 2012 - 5:48 pm

    So, if irony is overused, what’s the correct word that should be used in its place?

    Reply
  288. Vindu -  January 9, 2012 - 9:49 am

    Meant “due to” when “owing to” is appropriate.

    Reply
  289. Vindu -  January 9, 2012 - 9:46 am

    …hmmm… “due to” instead of “owing to.”

    Yes, language do evolve, and it should; however, to a certain extent.

    Tremedously enjoyed the article

    Thank you

    Reply
  290. Six -  January 8, 2012 - 8:38 pm

    My biggest pet peeve misused word is “verbiage” to mean “wording”. Also “verbage” (even worse, since it’s not even a word!). As in: “We need to change the verbiage of this strategic plan a little, but generally it’s solid”. It’s usage has infected the already narrow and shallow lexicon of corporate office speak– I’ve heard it used by senior executives (!) but it is more often heard coming from the mouths of sycophantic cubicle dwellers trying to sound more official to their superiors.

    Reply
  291. Paradoxical -  January 7, 2012 - 3:38 pm

    Can’t believe no one here has mention the word “Jealous”. Most occurrences seem to be in place of “Envious”.

    Reply
  292. Hayley -  January 7, 2012 - 11:06 am

    It would’ve been nice if you could’ve given some sentence examples of how to correctly use the word “ironic”.

    Reply
  293. Nshera -  January 7, 2012 - 7:58 am

    Lady Gaga SUCKS! If you agree with me, type a sad face. :(

    Reply
  294. Nshera -  January 7, 2012 - 7:57 am

    I do not mean to change the topic, but if any of you listens to Jay- Z, Kanye West, etc, you are listening to an Illuminati. Look it up on Google. Especially Lady Gaga!

    Reply
  295. Lisa -  January 7, 2012 - 5:05 am

    “meeting the man or your dreams, then meeting his beautiful wife” & “10,000 knives when all you need is a spoon”. Aren’t those ironic, dontchya think???

    Reply
  296. Steven -  January 6, 2012 - 1:56 pm

    It’s a bug, when you hate bugs
    It’s like when you spill something, right on your rug
    It’s like a poem, that doesn’t quite rhyme
    It’s like when you sneeze …

    It’s like rain, when you wanted sun
    It’s like a hotdog in your hamburger bun
    It’s like when you do something that’s not that fun
    Who would’ve thought, it figures

    Reply
  297. Pearl -  January 6, 2012 - 1:29 pm

    I thought that “ironic” was just like contradicting yourself, or knowing something without words. For example:

    “I find it ironic that your card says you’ve come here for the past 3 months, while you said you hated this place.”

    “It’s ironic that as soon as you met Gracie, your interests totally changed to hers, such as gymnastics. Didn’t you hate gymnastics before?”

    That’s what I think “ironic” means. No, it’s not overused, it just SEEMS overused because people aren’t using it correctly.

    Reply
  298. Theresa -  January 6, 2012 - 12:25 pm

    @Kat: “And isn’t the point to having an alphabet and language to be able to portray ideas fluently to the point where all intellectual creatures can use the pattern in the words to understand the idea?”
    I would answer “yes” to your question, but if people use a completely incorrect word, deliberately or accidentally, to convey what they want to express, then how am I to know what idea they’re trying to impart? If someone says to me, “I want to get a banana to take to the park on Sunday,” to express their desire to buy an orange to take to the library on Tuesday, how can the intellectual creatures that we are understand the idea in the new pattern of words? Granted, this is an exaggeration, but substituting one word for another (banana-orange, park-library, Sunday-Tuesday) doesn’t allow portrayal of an idea to another person.

    On the most-misused-word front, I think using the word “mute” for the word “moot” rivals that of “literally.” I would estimate that I hear this atrocity 99% of the time that the word “moot” should be used. It infuriates me, and when I point out the error, the violater shrugs their shoulders and says, “whatever.” Worse yet, I’ll hear the same misuse from the same person over and over. That someone doesn’t apply the correction when using the language is the epitome of laziness, and is even more infuriating.

    Reply
  299. the guy with the face -  January 5, 2012 - 1:50 pm

    I have experienced that the most misused word, especially among tweens and teens, is the word “fail.” I myself, even, use it all the time. Although I suppose it’s not really misused, just overused. One time, I used the word fail when someone had done a bad job at something, and my grandmother asked what exactly I meant by “fail.” “Ironically,” I “literally” had the hardest time describing the meaning of the word. It was very “awkward.”

    And yes, I used all those words on purpose just to misuse them.

    I do agree that all those words are misused and overused, especially the first two. People “literally” use literally all the time. One of my friends and I were having a discussion about it and one of the phrases we came up with was “She literally flew out the door.” For that to actually happen, she would have to have sprouted wings, which is completely impossible, even though people use that phrase all the time when talking about someone that was in a rush to get somewhere and got out of the house really fast.

    Reply
  300. Gregor -  January 5, 2012 - 7:36 am

    I think that another phrase that is overused is “First Amendment” as we saw in some of the comments to this article. Many people get hyper-sensitive when they think that freedom of speech is threatened. This article in no way attempts to threaten the First Amendment. I love how the writer introduces the idea of banning this word (or there is another article entitled “Should overused words be banished?”). The idea is ironic, because you will never really be able to ban a word – if people want to use it they will. I think that many people use the argument of hiding behind the First Amendment, because they are too lazy to learn the meaning of a word or to learn how to use words the way they were intended to be used.

    Face it, we are largely a lazy society, and as soon as we think we know something, we are suddenly experts on the matter – so it is with vocabulary, people hear a word and either misunderstand it or hear it out of context and they start using it that way. Then that uneducated misconception is perpetuated by passing it on to others who have no clue and it often gets overused.

    One word that almost makes me itch whenever I hear it is “trickeration”. I love sports and particularly football, but the advent of this word unfortunately does not help improve the “dumb jock” image at all. I don’t know how the word first came into play, but I’m guessing it was on ESPN when some kind of trick play happened and one of the jock-turned-announcers was so excited that he fumbled for the right word and this stumbled out. The sad thing is, it’s now so widely used that it has entered mainstream language (I think I’ve even seen it in some online dictionaries).

    The problem isn’t that the words themselves are bad, it is the misuse and overuse of the words. @Kat113321 – Epic IS used incorrectly by teenagers. Yes there are multiple definitions, but the ones that don’t specifically talk about a long epic poem, refer back to the poem (i.e. “something worthy to form the subject of an epic” – refers to events that are so grand that you could write an epic (a very long poem – not a 4 line rhyme)). Teenagers use epic as an adjective, and everything seems to be “Epic” these days.

    It seems that we have lost the concept of varying degrees of excitement, failure, “awesomeness” or whatever. Things now have to either be a colossal failure or an unprecedented success. Everything must be larger than life. It’s no longer acceptable to just like something, you have to either love it or hate it. The evolution of our language shows it completely. Just a few weeks ago I was at a rehearsal for some kind of a performance and the first attempt was a little less than stellar (not horrible by any stretch of the imagination) and a teenager immediately blurts out, “That was and EPIC failure”. How ridiculous! He obviously had no concept of what the word means, but he uses it constantly to describe different events in his life.

    I agree that words and our language evolve over time, but we have to be careful how much, because if we keep over-exaggerating situations by trying to make them larger than life (i.e. “I literally jumped out of my skin”), what words will we use when something even bigger comes along? Not everything is “EPIC” (in fact, relatively few things are worthy of that title), but that shouldn’t diminish their importance. And how will we describe the situation when someone actually jumps out of their skin (who knows, it may happen).

    I guess the idea is, you can’t really ban a word, but, we can stop perpetuating laziness and illiteracy. No one is trying to revoke the First Amendment here, but do yourself a favor and try to use words you understand and use them correctly, so that next time you speak, you don’t sound like an idiot.

    Reply
  301. Cyraus -  January 5, 2012 - 6:55 am

    @Kat113321
    It may not be used incorrectly, but it is overused so it diminishes the power of the word.

    Reply
  302. Kat113321 -  January 2, 2012 - 1:38 pm

    People! Epic is not used incorrectly by teenagers. Look it up. There is more than one meaning for many words.

    Reply
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  304. Kat113321 -  December 30, 2011 - 12:35 pm

    Honestly i’m a writer and a grammar snob, but this isn’t that big a deal, frankly, unless you’re just a complete grammar snob who loves pointing out people’s flaws, you wouldn’t care, nor would anybody else. This is the 21st century, get over it!!! These words like literally, ironically, ect., are just words that people with lacking vocabulary use to describe for example, coincidental situations when they can’t find the word coincidental at the moment. Not everybody is a genius who spends everyday on dictionary.com. And isn’t the point to having an alphabet and language to be able to portray ideas fluently to the point where all intellectual creatures can use the pattern in the words to understand the idea? These missusages are simply being used to explain the idea of certain situations to other humans.

    Reply
  305. Maryonna -  December 13, 2011 - 6:13 pm

    What? Ironic means something almost hypocritical happens. For example let’s say a person saw a movie about how a bad diet can give you heart attacks, then they make their diet better. But they get a heart attack of shock because they are so scared of eating bad things. THAT would be ironic.

    Reply
  306. Jeanna -  December 11, 2011 - 3:30 pm

    Another misused word: “epic.” My generation uses it to mean something cool or awesome (also misused, but I couldn’t think of better synonyms). An epic is actually a long poem telling a story, like “Beowulf” or the “Illiad.” (However, I would like to point out that these are epic, in both meanings of the word! ^-^)

    Reply
  307. Mary-Anne -  December 8, 2011 - 9:01 pm

    Definition of ironic: Seemingly mocked by fate.

    Reply
  308. Shakespeare -  December 8, 2011 - 5:24 am

    author49261 on November 30, 2011 at 6:13 am
    You know what’s ironic? I came on this site to look up “ironic.”

    That’s not ironic at all… It’s a coincidence. It seems you have not understood the definition.

    Reply
  309. Sue -  December 7, 2011 - 6:58 pm

    OMG! Did someone, on October 4, 2011, post a “correction” to a quote from Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge?

    “Water, water, every where, nor any drop to drink” is a direct quote from a famous author from the 1700s. I cannot believe that someone told @GED to use “not” instead of “nor”. (The exact post was “Keys “R” and “T” are neighbors on the keyboard but you’re on the Dictionary.com my friend”).

    This illustrates my concern with constant evolution of language. It makes history and/or classics unreadable, which is very, very, sad.

    And I will (figuratively) hunt down anyone that tells me I spelled “Rhyme” wrong above.

    Reply
  310. Sylvester -  December 6, 2011 - 4:39 am

    Oh I love you guys! I’m an Indian and consider myself to be pretty good at English. But my American friends always left me confused when they say, “That’s ironic” to point out a coincidence. I was always like “Hmm, there’s no irony there”. Now I finally understand. Haha

    Reply
  311. Samantha -  December 5, 2011 - 3:55 am

    Example of irony: You notice someone made a spelling mistake in a comment. You then go to point out and correct said spelling mistake. You unintentionally make a spelling mistake in your own comment.
    Tadah

    Reply
  312. Nick -  November 30, 2011 - 10:15 am

    Question: If the definition of situation irony is “an outcome that turns out to be very different from what was expected,” couldn’t the example here “Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in November” be situational irony, because one wouldn’t expect to have a warm, beautiful day in November? I know situational irony is really vague, but it seems like situational irony to me?

    Reply
  313. NikkiNeophyte -  November 30, 2011 - 8:52 am

    “Legitimately” and “literally” seem quite overused.
    I’m currently attempting to work “figuratively” into my vocabulary to counteract the widespread use of “literally….”

    Reply
  314. author49261 -  November 30, 2011 - 6:13 am

    You know what’s ironic? I came on this site to look up “ironic.”

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  317. rashmi -  November 23, 2011 - 2:46 am

    often such incorrect use of words makes other people use the same in incorrect manners ’cause we learn from what our ears lend at. so its the moral responsibility weighing on every speaker to use the correct ones.

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  320. Elizabeth -  November 21, 2011 - 9:17 am

    Eh, I wouldn’t say the most…Oh my God is probably the most used, and are you kidding

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  321. Andy -  November 21, 2011 - 8:33 am

    I found it very “ironic” that this article was written about the abuse (or overusing) of a word and there are so many responses on here about people not understanding the context of a word instead of over using them. The irony? They missed the context of the article completely..

    Reply
  322. Cyraus -  November 21, 2011 - 6:59 am

    I think people usually refer to ironicism as the situational irony. The actual definition is “irony involving a situation in which actions have an effect that is opposite from what was intended, so that the outcome is contrary to what was expected. ”

    A beautiful, warm day in November qualifies as situational irony because it opposite to expectations. Meeting a person three times in one day isn’t ironic (more coincidential) because you don’t necessarily expect not to. Ironic doesn’t only mean “unexpected” but “contrary to expectations”.

    Shakespeare played around with the situational irony that included a character’s actions resulting in an outcome completely different from what was intended. In “Romeo and Juliet”, Friar Lawrence helped Juliet avoid her marriage to Count Paris by taking a potion that would give the impression that she was dead, when she was actually comatose. However, Romeo returned from his exile before the messenger Friar Lawrence sent for him could tell Romeo of the plan. When he hears of Juliet’s death, he buys a poison from an apothecary and takes in when he is in her family tomb. Juliet then awakes from her coma and discovers her love had committed suicide and she follows his lead. Friar Lawrence had tried to help the lovers and ended up assisting in their deaths.

    This makes my stomach churn with its laughable and terribly ironic tragedy. ^^

    Reply
  323. depannage chaudiere -  November 17, 2011 - 10:24 pm

    Thank you, I have recently been looking for information about this subject for a long time and yours is the greatest I’ve came upon till now. But, what concerning the bottom line? Are you sure about the supply?

    Reply
  324. anonimoues -  November 16, 2011 - 8:13 pm

    I always knew i was using it wrong, ironically…

    Reply
  325. randi -  November 16, 2011 - 5:16 pm

    “literately” “legit” “lol” “wicked” “one second” those are the few off the top of my head…umm, i don’t know, I’d have to think about it more.

    Reply
  326. Howard -  November 14, 2011 - 11:36 am

    The most abused words in America are “provide” and “provider.” They have replaced nearly every verb and occupation in or language!

    Reply
  327. AC -  November 13, 2011 - 11:05 pm

    I’ve noticed most of the people who “abuse” the word tend to mispronounce it as well. Aye-ruh-nee vs. Aye-or-nee. And I honestly don’t expect someone who can’t even pronounce the word correctly to use it correctly.

    Reply
  328. cc -  November 12, 2011 - 12:11 pm

    I’ve always found it rather ironic that people can die of thirst when stranded at sea surrounded by water….

    Reply
  329. MikeHenrySC -  November 11, 2011 - 4:35 am

    Bring/Take Because/Since

    Reply
  330. Natasha -  November 11, 2011 - 4:05 am

    This is one of my pet peeves! I used to know someone who would say things like “I saw my X-boyfriend at the coffee shop. That was ironic.” and it frustrated me so much! My present roommate purposely misuses the word ironic simply to annoy me, and poke fun at how persnickety I am.

    Language is beautiful because it’s precise. Why say something is pretty when you can say it’s lovely, elegant, beautiful or alluring? I honestly think that if we keep allowing precise meaning to be taken from words like this, eventually our language is going to end up with ‘good’ and ‘double-good’ as our only descriptive words.

    Not to mention, irony is so much more pleasing than coincidence or just unlikely situations. It’s almost insulting to the idea of irony for the word to be used as such. >.<

    Reply
  331. ironic man -  November 11, 2011 - 2:24 am

    hmmm…
    HOW IRONIC!

    ’nuff said. ;))

    Reply
  332. talkshowhostxx -  November 11, 2011 - 1:26 am

    The ironic thing is that this article was written by someone who doesn’t actually know what irony is…

    Reply
  333. Sachiko -  November 10, 2011 - 10:49 pm

    It’s funny because one of the definitions for ironic written on this site is “coincidental, unexpected.”

    Reply
  334. Taylor -  November 3, 2011 - 7:35 pm

    *abused and misused word
    Oops.

    Reply
  335. Taylor -  November 3, 2011 - 7:34 pm

    Also “awkward” has become quite the abused and misused, as in those “That Awkward Moment When…” things. I hate those. They’re never awkward.

    Reply
  336. —Keith Hale— -  November 3, 2011 - 1:02 pm

    Do you realise how long it takes to verbalise “Isn’t it situationally ironic?” I like to be correct at least as much as the next guy, but language drifts. I have much more troubling words that bug me (the utterly meaningless word “remarkable” which IRONICALLY may just be the least remarkable word in any language) – but words can – and should – have multiple meanings. Let the speaker who is without error cast the first aspersion!

    Reply
  337. Martha Hardcastle Guthrie -  November 1, 2011 - 11:46 am

    I will offer “breath” when used instead of “breathe.” I see this constantly and it never gets corrected.

    Reply
  338. Eonisee -  October 31, 2011 - 8:15 am

    I think ‘Epic’ is the most abused(overused) word in the English language, currently. Whereas, I would say ‘Ironic’ may be misused more so than abused per se.

    Reply
  339. Beatrice -  October 30, 2011 - 8:12 am

    “Awkward” is certainly overused, and incorrectly. “lolssiess thts like, so awkss” (“awkss” and variants of “awkward” are often used as well.)
    This gives me OCD, as I do not like seeing words or variations of that word used so out of context.
    I makes you look trashy and uneducated. Stop.

    Reply
  340. Pizza Reno -  October 28, 2011 - 7:02 am

    Great post! This word is starting to become really overused by young people I am noticing. It’s like it’s become hip to say that everything is ironic or something…it irritates me.

    Reply
  341. Grammar Freak -  October 27, 2011 - 1:20 pm

    Ironic is no where near the most abused word in the English language, “ignorant” is.

    Reply
  342. daniemarie -  October 26, 2011 - 10:21 am

    I looked up ironic (using this website) after reading this article. The article contradicts number three… Maybe I’m just confused. :)

    ‘Often the word “ironic” is misused to remark on a coincidence, such as “This is the third time today we’ve run into each other. How ironic.” ‘

    ironic: adjective
    1.containing or exemplifying irony: an ironic novel; an ironic remark. 2.ironical.
    3.coincidental; unexpected: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.

    Reply
  343. Ashley B. -  October 24, 2011 - 4:46 pm

    I had just heard a classmate say “How DO you use the word ‘ironic’? What does that even mean?”

    Now, I know how to answer that question! :)

    Reply
  344. Rod -  October 24, 2011 - 7:19 am

    More and more I hear people using, for emphasis, the word EPICENTRE to mean exact centre. Ironically, the epicentre of an earthquake (to which phenomenon the usage ought to be confined), is not at its centre but on the surface of the earth ABOVE its centre.

    Reply
  345. Kathleen -  October 20, 2011 - 8:55 pm

    Weird…

    Reply
  346. Stephen -  October 18, 2011 - 7:52 am

    My candidates for most abused word: anxious (which does not mean “eager”) and since (which does not mean “because”)
    Also, I learned (in English lit) that sarcasm is the use of irony with the intent to inflict pain.

    Reply
  347. Christian -  October 15, 2011 - 8:12 pm

    oK, DO “PENULTIMATE” NEXT!!

    Reply
  348. sjx -  October 14, 2011 - 8:00 pm

    at maureen from 2010,dont ask us the definition of awkward, ur on freakin dictionary.com! STUPID!!!!!!

    Reply
  349. david -  October 14, 2011 - 9:58 am

    i’ll love to know dis words intrigue,melancholy,stern,vulnerable,steak,reluctant

    Reply
  350. Robin -  October 11, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    A fire engine catching on fire is fairly ironic.

    Reply
  351. janice d -  October 10, 2011 - 11:44 pm

    ironically, i do not think _ironic_ is *the* “most abused word in english”.

    Reply
  352. Breandan -  October 6, 2011 - 7:22 am

    Actually Barbara you’re using the word ‘so’ incorrectly. It’s “so much fun that…” WHAT?

    Barbara on December 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm
    I can’t stand the use of the expression:
    It’s so fun, instead of it’s so MUCH fun.

    Reply
  353. Breandan -  October 6, 2011 - 7:17 am

    I agree with Ironic and Literally. Penultimate is also misused but not to the degree of the first two

    Reply
  354. "Hans the general" -  October 5, 2011 - 1:22 pm

    Excellent article and yes I agree, “ironic” is by far the most abused word around…I’d like to take a shot at my ironic little story too…I’m from Cape Town, South Africa, a mixed-race, 30yr old IT professional and some time ago, I spent an entire evening playfully pointing out examples of “irony” and “coincidence” as the evening and our conversation went along, and to help explain it to my lovely date who just smiled her pro-model smile and found my efforts merely amusing…that was our last date!
    I also had a few dates with an estranged friend/girlfriend and on one occasion found myself having to insist on the existence of the word “acquisitive”, to this gorgeous, well spoken school teacher (ironic!), who insisted that I’m referring to myself being “inquisitive”…on another evening I used this very website to prove her wrong…we didn’t have many dates after that!
    I’m now dating a post-grad Psychology/Anthropology/Sociology university student, a few years my junior, a good bit more childishly stubborn than I am, but level-headed enough while playfully competitive, confident and so sharply eloquent that our verbal jousting almost never ceases…it’s my 2nd longest relationship ever and we’re planning to move in together!
    I’m so happy that I had to share that but basically, I would find a rather plain-looking woman who knows her ABC’s far more intriguing and sexy than any beauty pageant winner who in my world, may eventually end up becoming nothing but an intellectual doormat!…so anyway she’s the youngest girl (or girl with the biggest age difference and because of that, someone that I wouldn’t usually have considered dating) that I’ve ever dated yet intellectually we connect better than I have with any other girl I’ve ever known…I reckon that’s perfectly “ironic”!!!

    PS:…oh, and she’s not plain-looking at all so, bonus!

    Reply
  355. Andr -  October 5, 2011 - 11:40 am

    Actually, these all are (or could be) ironic:

    “This is the third time today we’ve run into each other. How ironic.”

    -You don’t normally expect to run into someone repeatedly throughout a day, it’s situational irony.
    -Also, if you were intentionally following somebody and then said this to them, that also would be ironic.

    “Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in November. It was really ironic.”

    -Again, we don’t expect warm sunny weather into November, so yes: It’s ironic

    “Ironically, it was the best movie I’ve seen all year!”

    -If the trailer looked crappy, and you heard it was crappy, and fully expected the film to be crappy, then it would indeed ironic for such a film to end up as the best one’s seen all year.

    Reply
  356. I. Ron Ick -  October 5, 2011 - 11:36 am

    At 822 previous comments, I’ve not looked to see if anyone already noted this…but if “ironic” were the most abused word in the English language, wouldn’t *that* be ironic. “Ironic” is ironic! How meta.

    Reply
  357. Andy -  October 5, 2011 - 10:43 am

    The gradual drift in the meaning of a word for common usage does not bother me nearly as much as when a word is stolen by a group or cause and the meaning is completely changed, such as the organic food movement.

    Reply
  358. lezza -  October 5, 2011 - 10:20 am

    normally I’m not one to complain about the blog posts here, but do you really need to repeat them? I swear this is at least the third time this post has been highlighted on the main page.

    Reply
  359. Jordan -  October 5, 2011 - 9:54 am

    I think awesome and hysterical are abused too.

    Reply
  360. David -  October 5, 2011 - 9:44 am

    I am particulary annoyed by the overuse of the word “shock” to describe what people think is medical shock when they are suddenly stressed out or receive bad news. Ok, it’s true, if someone just told you a loved one died, you could say “I’m in shock.” I’ll draw the line there because, afterall, it obviously has a general usage unrelated to medicine. However, I have often heard people make statements like “I hit my thumb with the hammer, the pain immediately sent me into shock.” No it didn’t. That’s not what shock is. It’s annoying, I hear it all the time. Shock is a severe condition whereby there is system-wide decreased blood supply to vital organs. It is a severe and often fatal scenario. It could be caused by blood loss or tons of other reason (anaphylactic, for example). If you get a little dizzy after hurting yourself and you feel nauseated, you did not go into shock. For some reason, this annoys me. My rant is done.

    Reply
  361. S -  October 5, 2011 - 9:04 am

    Words have meaning. If not, we’re in trouble. And no, I didn’t just ask about the time.

    Reply
  362. evan -  October 5, 2011 - 7:31 am

    When you use irony, ironic, and ironically, be sure that you use them in contexts associated with stark incongruity, inconsistency, or even folly, and not in contexts associated with things merely coincidental or improbable. This use of ironically is inappropriate, and coincidentally is the better choice: Ironically, both the defense counsel and the prosecutor graduated from Yale Law School. Appropriate use of irony requires an incongruity between what is expected and what has happened in fact: Ironically, because they lacked sophisticated computers they developed efficient algorithms that can now add to the power of supercomputers.
    Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    Reply
  363. Robbie Parks -  October 5, 2011 - 6:45 am

    Nobody will read this because it’s at the end of so many comments, but…

    The example of a warm day in November is not ironic because it is just unexpected, not contrary to the basic premise and nature of November (it’s not even that unlikely, c.f. random weather in State College, PA).

    A fire station burning down *is* ironic because the nature of the fire station is to prevent and put out fires, just as a lifeguard drowning is ironic because the nature of the lifeguard is the prevention of drowning.

    But try this:
    It has been a normal, cooling November, and you have been avoiding turning on the heat, refusing to admit that summer is over. It’s getting so cold that you are wearing three coats and extra socks to walk around your house, but you still won’t turn on the heat. Finally, it’s November 15 and you say, “I can’t take it anymore! I’m turning on the heat!” You set the thermostat to heat the house nice and warm for the next day. But when you wake up the next day, November 16, the sky is bright and clear, the temperature 72 degrees, and your heater is happily blasting out heat with the heating joy only shared by a burning fire station. THAT is irony!

    Reply
  364. Jv -  October 5, 2011 - 6:00 am

    I find it ironic that abuse of the word “literally” enters a discussion about abuse of the word “irony”, because abuse of the word “literally” is literally a form of irony.

    Reply
  365. Mistral -  October 5, 2011 - 2:39 am

    Isn’t it ironic – that the most famous song in the world about irony misunderstood the concept?

    Reply
  366. Chocolate -  October 5, 2011 - 2:17 am

    Yep I find it annoying too when people say that. Just like ironic, people misuse the word literally a lot. For example my friend the other day texted me , “I saw a cat on the road today and i literally passed out!!!”

    Reply
  367. Rin -  October 5, 2011 - 12:24 am

    I cannot believe there are this many misspellings on Dictionary.com of all places. Also, I think people should be aware of connotations versus denotations–in reference to people talking about the “constantly evolving nature of language.”

    Reply
  368. Dubee -  October 5, 2011 - 12:10 am

    The comments provide a very nice discussion about irony. I learned not only its meaning, but also the way people look at changes when it comes to language. Being a biologist, I would have to go with lingual(I am not sure if I am using the right term here, I apologize early if I am not) evolution. Whether or not English remains a powerful language is not a question for me. I believe what is important is that people keep communicating, no matter what language they use. Oh, and I also vote that “literally” is the most abused word. If it was the featured word, then debates and discussions wouldn’t be as long as what we have here. :)

    Reply
  369. Why do you care -  October 4, 2011 - 9:22 pm

    mahhhhhhhh
    i don’t use the word ironic much.
    my friends does though.
    so does my Geo teacher.

    Reply
  370. CL -  October 4, 2011 - 9:11 pm

    Is it just me or is it ironic that some of the people who are complaining the most about misused words and grammar are the ones who think they are ee comings? Capital letters, people, use them, it’s really easy.

    Reply
  371. Kit -  October 4, 2011 - 8:59 pm

    I agree with the comment of “literally” being used incorrectly more often. Also, I here “legitimate” used in ways that amaze me with their stupidity. Also, “Legit” has become a common replacement for “Awesome” or “cool”. It drives me nuts.

    Reply
  372. Nameless -  October 4, 2011 - 7:08 pm

    I was looking up the word ‘distraction’ when I saw this interesting story at the bottom of the page.

    Reply
  373. Danny Hulliung -  October 4, 2011 - 7:00 pm

    For those who still don’t get it, imagine a scenario as such:
    There is person who is morbidly afraid of death and pain (which itself is punny, not ironic), and is always very cautious and practical about everything they do. One day, he/she decides to cross the street because he/she doesn’t hear any cars, nor has seen any for quite some time, and ends up getting hit and killed. That’s what people normally (try to at least) associate with when they use the word.

    Reply
  374. Richard -  October 4, 2011 - 6:58 pm

    New ways to use the word ironic, I think I like the wrong way better

    Reply
  375. Liz -  October 4, 2011 - 6:42 pm

    A lot of people in the comments section seem to think that “ironic” and “unexpected” can be used interchangeably. While all events that are ironic are unexpected, not everything unexpected is necessarily ironic. For example, if an optometrist usually drives to work every day of the week and one day suddenly decides to carpool with one of his coworkers, his actions are unexpected but not ironic. It would be ironic if, while driving to work, he suddenly got in a car accident and lost his eyesight. Irony is therefore the exact opposite of the expected outcome.

    Reply
  376. Rachelle -  October 4, 2011 - 6:34 pm

    I think “literally” is the most misused word in the English language. I am always hearing someone say things like “he was literally the size of a truck!”

    Reply
  377. Ironic -  October 4, 2011 - 6:30 pm

    The third example is not necessarily true; Depending on the sentence before it that could make complete sense. How, dare I saw it, Ironic

    Reply
  378. Dolphin -  October 4, 2011 - 6:27 pm

    Ironic is abused a lot,but not much where I live,until you drive a bit away.Then it’s abused.I do think the words “ironic” “ironically” and “irony” are abused a bit much.You’d think that they’d also call “sarcasm” “literally,”the way they abuse it.

    Reply
  379. Smit Sharma -  October 4, 2011 - 9:37 am

    @Ged
    The examples were really better then those mentioned on the blog however thirsty mariners would probably say “Water water everywhere, NOT a drop to drink”. Keys “R” and “T” are neighbors on the keyboard but you’re on the Dictionary.com my friend :)

    Reply
  380. Just a Note -  October 4, 2011 - 8:33 am

    I agree that “ironic” was a heavily over used for quite some time. However, I think the new “abused” word of the year is “epic”. Make your school year epic. That was so epic! I don’t know about you, but I doubt that anything a high schooler did was worthy of being deemed epic. It would be more memorable than epic.

    Reply
  381. Amanda -  October 4, 2011 - 8:13 am

    an unusual occurrence doesn’t make something ironic as one commenter thinks.
    The huge difference between sarcasm and irony is that sarcasm is hurtful.

    Reply
  382. colin anthony -  October 4, 2011 - 8:03 am

    Totally.

    Reply
  383. K and R -  October 4, 2011 - 7:55 am

    This is rather informative…and yes, irony is one of the most abused and misunderstood things in the world, even by my english teacher.

    K.

    ….It’s good to know that someone understands irony.

    R.

    Reply
  384. Mary Bethany Collins -  September 29, 2011 - 1:49 am

    I would have to say the word “lay” is the most misused word in the English language. Just think, because no grade-school teacher could cope with the classroom giggling when she/he tried to teach the declension of to lie (as in to lie down), no one, including those high in the government–even some writers–continue to believe that the “man was laying on the beach.”

    Reply
  385. InfraredMoth -  September 28, 2011 - 4:59 pm

    I would argue that the word “revolutionary” is right there with “irony.” The way commercials use this word, you’d think it was synonomous with “new.” Quite the opposite, “revolution” is much closer to “first” or “old,” but “radical” most of all. Penicillin was a revolutionary drug, Nasonex is not. The Ford Model-T car was revolutionary, and so was the Dodge panel van and the Toyota Prius. Has a Subaru Empreza changed any country? CD-ROMs, revolutionary. Blue ray? Please!

    Reply
  386. Ged -  September 25, 2011 - 6:25 pm

    >>For example, if you were trying to be ironic on a stormy, dreary day, you might say: “What glorious weather!”

    >>Or if you were suffering from a bad cold, you might ironically say: “I feel like a million bucks.”

    I don’t really think the examples given in this article are the best. Those border on true sarcasm, depending on the tone being used.

    I think more true examples of irony could be…
    “The ambulance arrived at the scene of the accident and ran over the victim.”
    “He wrote a book about the phobia of writing”

    And a classic line by Coleridge of thirsty mariners floating at sea…

    “Water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink”

    Reply
  387. Skrah Chamahscrotti -  September 25, 2011 - 6:03 pm

    I think everybody is wrong. You are all wrong, and I am right. I am the queen of England, and you are all robots. I reject your realities and substitute my own, thank you all very much.

    Reply
  388. aman -  September 25, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    i think you guys need to just relax about words…. u r gettin way to up tight about a little miss usage

    Reply
  389. irony -  September 25, 2011 - 5:04 pm

    My teacher did a great job of explaining the third type of irony.

    The story is that a man is returning home from war, where he has served for many years and been in multiple dangerous situations. Then, while walking home for the first time in years, he gets hit by an ice cream truck and dies.

    Our class had a discussion pointing out the many different components that make this situation ironic, and we came up with:

    *He had been in many situations where he could have died, but ended up being killed when you didn’t expect it
    *Ice cream trucks are extremely loud, and announce their visit very clearly, plus they move fairly slowly, for a war veteran (who we typically view as quick, strong, agile) to be hit by one is very unlikely.
    *He was returning from war, and had avoided dying many times, so the fact that he didn’t die in war, or because of war can be viewed ironic.

    Reply
  390. notsure -  September 25, 2011 - 3:01 pm

    I actually think the examples of irony would also qualify as sarcasm?… is it possible that sarcasm can be irony, but irony can’t be sarcasm, like a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square? Hear me out: if it was thundering and you said, “what marvelous weather” that would be sarcastic. Would it actually be irony, though? Eg. a dentist with a mouthful of cavities is ironic because dentists clean teeth, yet their own are dirty. But if it was stormy and you said it was nice out, you’d be saying the opposite, which is sarcasm too. And if you had a cold and said you felt great, it is ironic, but also sarcastic.

    Reply
  391. Don Zerly -  September 24, 2011 - 5:18 pm

    Hey Trebor…

    “Unique” means that only one of the thing being spoken of exists, anywhere. It’s either unique, or it’s not unique. You can’t speak of something as being “fairly unique”.

    Reply
  392. Mikala -  September 23, 2011 - 2:21 am

    Lol,again I correct my sentence to say, I think we should be grateful** It’s early in the morning guys, give me a break.

    Reply
  393. Mikala -  September 23, 2011 - 2:20 am

    I think we are should be grateful**

    Reply
  394. Mikala -  September 23, 2011 - 2:18 am

    I don’t think it’s being misused at all. Situational irony, as the article provided, is why people use it as often as they do. Just because something is used often doesn’t make it used incorrectly. I think people believe the only way for a person to be ironic is if it’s verbal, but I don’t think we have to leave situational irony to the exclusivity of authors of books. For example, if I had worked all night to study for a test the next day only to realize that the test was actually next week what word could I use to describe such a situation to my friends in conversation? Certainly, if this had been written in a book no one who have any qualms about pointing it out to be ironic. I think we should be fortunate that we have a word in the English language that can go so far to describe many different situations!

    Reply
  395. Jared -  September 22, 2011 - 2:51 pm

    “Epic” is also another very commonly misused word! I hear it even more than “ironic” in situations where it doesn’t belong.

    Reply
  396. Cam -  September 19, 2011 - 9:46 pm

    As abused as ‘ironic’ is, I think an even more abused word is ‘surreal’. Just note how often it is used incorrectly.

    Cam

    Reply
  397. Jack -  September 11, 2011 - 7:16 pm

    Also, happy grandparent’s day.

    Reply
  398. Jack -  September 11, 2011 - 7:15 pm

    I don’t think that Ironic is misused as the word “awesome” or the phrase “I could care less.” I really don’t think that movie was “awesome”, people. It was good, yes, but I am not on my knees in praise or fear, am I. And “I could care less” is just people being lazy. if you could care less, then obviously you care. If you don’t care, at least take the extra hundredth of a second to say you “couldn’t care less”. Or just shorten it and say “I don’t care.” Whenever I hear someone say “I could care less” I am always tempted to say “so if you care, why’re you acting like you don’t, you moron?’

    Reply
  399. xixihaha567 -  September 10, 2011 - 9:42 pm

    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was performing some analysis on that. And he just bought me lunch simply because I found it for him smile Consequently let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

    Reply
  400. Ken Qualls -  September 10, 2011 - 2:09 pm

    The word “let” used to mean hindered. Now it means permit or allow. A quick trip through a dictionary reveals a number of definitions termed archaic because the words no longer have tht meaning. With computers and texting many of our words will be changed in the future.

    Reply
  401. Michelle -  September 9, 2011 - 2:34 pm

    I think “literally” is the least understood and most misused word. People say “literally” all the time when what they mean is “figuratively.”

    Reply
  402. Candeeze -  September 9, 2011 - 11:00 am

    “It goes without saying” and “Needless to say” are some of my irritants. If something goes without saying, then one should not say it. Similarly, if saying something is needless, then words should not be used. If someone says something obvious, it is acceptable to respond with, “I think that goes without saying” (or “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” which is my personal preference). But to preface a sentence with either of these remarks is moronic, at best. I must calm myself whenever I hear someone begin a statement like this, as I feel forced to interject with, “So, shut up!”

    I also spend a great deal of time with someone who regularly says, “To each is to own.” I’ve attempted innumerable times to correct this individual, however each attempt is disregarded. I’m not sure how or why this version of “to each his own” was embedded in this person’s lexicon, but ARGH!!!!!!!

    Reply
  403. Candeeze -  September 9, 2011 - 10:25 am

    I spend far too much time giggling while I spellcheck these entries… LOL

    Reply
  404. Phoebe -  September 5, 2011 - 9:09 pm

    ‘We don’t do that in Chaos!’

    Reply
  405. Paul -  September 4, 2011 - 7:19 pm

    Think of ‘ironic’ in the same way you think of ‘funny’ – hard to define and you need to develop a sense of it. Some examples try to be ironic but aren’t, some are at best blatently or clumsily ironic, others might be subtly or sophisticatedly ironic… it’s a qualitative thang.

    The man responsible for the introduction of so many CCTV cameras in the UK was completely blind. Literally, politically, and ironically.

    Reply
  406. Hal -  September 2, 2011 - 2:01 pm

    Another misused word is “myself” as in: “Please call Jim or myself if you have any questions.” How can YOU call myself? I don’t know why people do that — maybe it’s because “me” sounds too small or childish. I feel contorted when I hear that, as if I’m literally calling myself on my own phone. A less offensive use of “myself”, but still wrong, is when people say, for example: “Jim and myself went to the store.” I want to ask the person if he went too.

    Reply
  407. Stephanie -  August 29, 2011 - 9:17 am

    most misused word- definitely “practically”

    Reply
  408. Pamela Hongsakul -  August 26, 2011 - 3:05 am

    On this complaint page about a simple word, I find the epitome of thoughtfulness and evolutionary minds. Thanks y’all, you made my day!

    Reply
  409. Trebor -  August 26, 2011 - 1:29 am

    You have a fairly unique post here; amazing how people just flaunt the rules of grammar.

    One favourite (and seldom heard) word is ‘gruntled’, of which the negative, ‘disgruntled’ is heard all too frequently. The origin of the word is in dispute, some claiming it as a back from of disgruntled. An older definition argues that ‘gruntle’ stems from the contented grunting of pigs, hence ‘disgruntle’ became discontented.

    We should restore gruntle because we need gruntledness!

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  410. trlkly -  August 25, 2011 - 7:47 am

    No, I don’t agree with your assessment. You admit that situational irony exists, but at the same time say that “out-of-the-ordinary” is not a definition. And you miss out on the conotation of irony: that something that is ironic is also weird, which exists in all forms except dramatic irony.

    And, frankly, you’re a dictionary. By definition, you catalog words and their meanings. YOU DO NOT DECIDE WHAT THEY MEAN. A dictionary is by definition descriptivist, not descriptivist. A dictionary is not a rule book.

    Reply
  411. Clare Jethwa -  August 24, 2011 - 11:57 pm

    Undoubtedly the most abused word in the English language is “Basically”. It is used far too often, unnecessarily, and most of the time incorrectly. Drives me mad!

    Reply
  412. tm -  August 24, 2011 - 3:13 pm

    wow, this post is so ironic! haha sorry couldn’t help it :P

    Reply
  413. bill dwyer -  August 23, 2011 - 4:09 am

    wait, i thought ironic is supposed to be used for very specific unexpected situations, e.g.the person who invents a diet specifically for a healthy heart ends up dying of a heart attack caused by his own diet.

    Reply
  414. Roy Dyer -  August 19, 2011 - 11:16 am

    I too have realized that I have been guilty of misusing the word ironic. Great post!

    Reply
  415. Ted Elman -  August 14, 2011 - 9:07 pm

    THE MOST OVERUSED WORD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE IS ‘BASICALLY’, hands down…unless you include the ‘F’ word and variations of it, no one votes or mentions ‘basically’ because they themselves use it to sound smart and profound…

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  416. Tony F. -  August 14, 2011 - 1:15 am

    Irony is not just an unexpected outcome. The outcome has to be not only unexpected but directly related to and opposite the purpose of the event. Like the car crashing into the billboard add for safe driving.

    Reply
  417. Don Zerly -  August 13, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    To those who say that ultimately a word means what the majority say it means:

    Yes, that’s true, but one of the great things about English is the sheer number of words in it, and it allows you to be precise and concise in a way that few other languages do. When you attempt to use a word by giving it the meaning you assume it has from context rather than finding out its exact meaning, you blunt that precision a little. Eventually it adds up.

    “Irony” has a very precise meaning. It would be a shame to see something this useful and beautiful in its precision lost to misuse.

    If you want to say something, say it simply and exactly. If you know a word that assists you in that, so much the better. That’s what having a large vocabulary is for. Getting an idea across this way is the stuff of poetry.

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  418. JaneL -  August 12, 2011 - 8:53 am

    How about Epic? “Epic fail” i hate that phrase!

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  419. Edward -  August 11, 2011 - 8:01 pm

    What other words are misused horribly? Well, the only two that come to mind are literally (e.g.-”Brittney Spears is literally riding a roller coaster to Hell”) or mishchiev(i)ous. I can’t stand when people add that extra “i”.

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  420. Sage -  August 11, 2011 - 1:26 pm

    The word select is completely misused. For example, announcers on TV will say “such & such movie will be showing in select theatres”, when they really should say selected, meaning chosen or preferred. I must hear this word used incorrectly 10 times a day in the advertising world. You would think professional writers would know better.

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  421. Cimone -  August 7, 2011 - 7:37 pm

    I agree with Bethany and Blitzwulf that the definition of situational irony is applicable to the examples given of “misuse”. As a future cognitive science or linguistics major,I understand people’s passion for word preservation. However, as a teenager, I understand that the “misuse” many of you have cited for the word “literal” is not actually misuse. Most teenagers know that literal is the opposite of figurative. But when we use it for a figurative sentence, we are using verbal irony. The speaker and the hearer are both aware that the statement is NOT meant literally.

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  422. Chrisf -  August 5, 2011 - 3:27 am

    I have noticed no word misused more than “literally,” literally for years now. It does NOT mean, “Like, omigod, totally!” or, “Fer sure!” Nor does it mean, “I am completely serious,” nor, “I am not lying.” UGH.

    Regarding Nancy’s example of “which” abuse: “I know a girl, which, she’s nice and everything but….”
    Through careful observation, I have determined that in every case I’ve witnessed, “which” can be replaced with “and.” Having figured this out does not keep me from wanting to say, “WHY THE HELL ARE YOU SAYING ‘WHICH!’”

    I had a friend who used to say “sorta speak,” instead of “so to speak.”

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  423. KyzerS -  August 3, 2011 - 1:47 pm

    My vote is for “therefore” (or “so” used like therefore). Many seem to think it gives their conclusions validity.

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  424. Brian Williard -  July 29, 2011 - 7:41 am

    An oft abused word is “literally,” which people often say when they use hyperbole or idioms.

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  425. Judith -  July 22, 2011 - 10:07 am

    Icon is either being much misused today, or is in the throes of meaning drift, which is probably pretty much the same thing. Everyone is “an icon”, situations are “iconic”, It is my understanding that an icon is a picture that represents a concrete thing, such as the icons on the computer screen, or the cross that represents that on which Jesus died, the statues or paintings of saints, etc., to which people pray to ask that particular saint to intercede for them in something, and so forth.

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  426. Gourav Salanke -  July 20, 2011 - 3:33 am

    If anyone from dictionary.com team is following this them please reply to this

    your page (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ironic) for the word ironic states
    3.coincidental; unexpected: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.

    This contradicts with the above blog…
    Can anyone please explain?

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  427. Teivous -  July 20, 2011 - 12:46 am

    Freak

    Reply
  428. Brett -  July 18, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    Okay, I’ll go out on a limb here and submit “of” as a most abused candidate. This is a written English problem only, but more and more I’m seeing people writing “of” in place of the contracted “have”… “He should of known better.” “I would of done that.” Etc. Drives me crazy…

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  429. Nancy -  July 18, 2011 - 9:09 am

    I’ve been teaching my 7 year old this concept for a couple of weeks, moving on from what a cooincidence is. I’ve explained it’s like when a dentist has a mouth full of cavities or a judge is found guilty in a court of law.

    I think “myself” is used incorrectly. “If you have questions, please call “myself”. I want to scream (yes, literally) when I hear that!

    “Which” is the other problem. “I know a girl, which, she’s nice and everything but….” Pay attention to this one and you’ll start noticing it.

    I believe in language evolving except when it’s because we’re just a bunch of dodo birds…..

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  430. Anne M Went -  July 18, 2011 - 6:30 am

    I find it ironic that on a site called Dictionary.com people misspell words when they are leaving comments!!!

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  431. Jim -  July 16, 2011 - 10:16 am

    Ironically, I choose awesome. How long has it been since you were really awed by something? No, 3D movies don’t count. The sad irony is that people use awesome to describe everything from surprise to (surprise) true irony.

    Awesome, eh?

    Reply
  432. Calliope Ochre -  July 15, 2011 - 7:58 pm

    Like so many others have said in the comments for this article, I didn’t really know the difference between irony and sarcasm. Thank you for clearing that up; if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a misused word. =)

    Whoever mentioned that literally was misused, I take my metaphorical hat off to you. Too bad it’s one of my brother’s favorite words to misuse…

    And just to make this post not a total waste of space, I’m going to suggest another abused word- epic. I only ever hear people say it as “epic fail.” Ugh.

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  433. Dan -  July 11, 2011 - 4:09 am

    Also: people have to stop using “piggyback” and “moving forward” when they’re conducting meetings. Why have these two phrases become so popular? The first one is waaay overused and the second one…. what- as opposed to your company moving backward? Does that really need to be said?

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  434. Dan -  July 11, 2011 - 4:05 am

    People constantly misuse “personable.” I think the dictionary added the second definition because it’s so misused. Again, is that the evolution of the word?

    “She was really attractive and very personable.”
    “Oh, so she was really attractive and very attractive?”

    Reply
  435. Tori -  July 1, 2011 - 2:19 pm

    A girl in one of my classes once said “Ha, well wasn’t that ironic?” when handed a paper she asked for. Now, whenever my friend and I see her, we point out different, random things and call them ironic. She now thinks that we don’t know the proper usage.

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  436. Kelly Jones -  July 1, 2011 - 10:40 am

    I use the word Ironic most often in reference to a thing leading to something unintended. Such as in a person solving a problem and by doing so makes things worse, or creates other unforseen consequences. I think I am right in this.

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  437. Teresa -  June 29, 2011 - 1:06 pm

    Coming in a bit late to this discussion – “hopefully” is meant to convey that you are filled with hope. “They came hopefully into the prescence of the king to make their request.” It’s now commonly used incorrectly to mean we hope sometime will happen: “Hopefully, he’ll be on time.” “By that time, hopefully, we’ll have enough money.”

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  438. Victoria -  June 29, 2011 - 9:48 am

    What good IS a word if it’s not being used in accordance with its correct meaning? When there are constant substitutions for everything, we may as well we speaking in code!

    I literally jumped out of my skin when I read this article.
    [sarcasm, not irony]

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  439. EdwardBanana -  June 24, 2011 - 9:19 am

    If “Ironic” has a new public perception or is used incorrectly, shouldn’t the definition be changed? Or shouldn’t it get an extra definition? If that’s how people perceive the word now for communicating then instead of debating what the word means, just adapt the word.

    In other news, ironic is the most commonly used Hipster word. Also, hipster is the most annoying word ever.

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  440. Manoj Kumar Gupta -  June 24, 2011 - 8:02 am

    Ironic means when you think something and it happens of its opposite,For an example I was playing according as per the situation and everybody was assured that We could easily win that match but once I got out we lost our remaining wicket in next 10 minutes.
    We lost that match and it was bog Ironically once I got out we lost the match.

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  441. Davey -  June 22, 2011 - 1:29 pm

    I use irony to mean something unexpected; it’s the only way I have ever used the word. In the above article it was referred to as situational irony. As an example, “It was ironic that a disabled veteran with a prosthetic leg was better at kicking soccer balls than my Brazilian friend who had been playing soccer all his life”.

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  442. barbara w. secor -  June 22, 2011 - 11:16 am

    I agree with Jimmy James, above. Two of your examples of ‘misuse’ are, indeed, situational irony, e.g. November weather and liking a movie that was doomed to be panned.
    All language is driven by change; it is ineluctable. As a language expert and devotee, I am usually outraged by these seemingly casual and glib changes to our magnificent language, but alas and curses, they are inevitable.

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  443. ali -  June 22, 2011 - 10:46 am

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH. IT IS SUCH ADEQUATE EXPLAINATION.

    BEST REGARDS..

    Reply
  444. Josh -  June 22, 2011 - 10:13 am

    I like how the point of this article is to point out that ironic is often misused as coincidental, but dictionary.com’s definition of ironic inclues

    3. coincidental; unexpected: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.

    That seems ironic.

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  445. Brony -  June 22, 2011 - 10:01 am

    Letting language evolve is a good thing, but this is one that’s gone a bit too far in my opinion.

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  446. Ray Shell -  June 22, 2011 - 9:52 am

    Didn’t you post this a long time ago?

    Anyway, not that I have a problem with it, I think “epic fail” is abused too much. I remembered a time when you posted something about fail being taken out of the use of vocabulary in colleges because of its over excessive use.

    And I think we shouldn’t be criticized strongly for using it wrong but I would recommend using it correctly or else people who actually know the real meaning of the word or others who don’t really get it will create a misunderstanding.

    Hopefully, that all made sense. :p

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  447. Tracy Mickelson -  June 22, 2011 - 9:21 am

    For my money, “literally” gets the vote for most misused word. “That pitcher is literally on fire today!”

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  448. k.c. -  June 22, 2011 - 8:50 am

    It may not be used incorrectly but it’s certainly overused… AWARENESS! Everything and its dog has an awareness day lately. Am I supposed to be aware cancer exists or would you like me to actually be motivated on awareness day to donate? I am aware of puppy mills, bladder control, and even multiple births. Is there anything else you would like your audience to know beside the fact it exists? THEN DON’T USE AWARENESS!!

    I also hate random and literally. Really? That guy was literally driving a thousand miles an hour? WOW!

    I also hate the misuse of “” on signs for emphasis. Is the “free” combo not really free or are you quoting your manager when he said it was free? Quotation marks aren’t for emphasis, people!! *sigh*

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  449. Rachel -  June 22, 2011 - 8:33 am

    I really appreciate everybody’s comments here. I am a young English Teaching major at a pretty large college, and none of my closest associates are in the same department as me. When I start talking along these lines around those friends, I feel like I’m speaking a different language. I’m really glad that I have somewhere to go where I can keep up on my education and talk with others who speak real “English.” Thanks, everyone!

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  450. Trill -  June 20, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    Lets not allow language to be tampered with and “progress” I think we should first learn English before deciding, because we’re a bit ignorant to should stick with Colloquial language. Prayerfully our minds will progress then everything else will stop progressing faster than we are.

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  451. The meaning of.. -  June 20, 2011 - 6:20 am

    The meaning of words is great educational material.

    Words are here for people and I think they should evolve when that evolution improves communication. It seems that people are looking for a word which means multiple coincidences and irony was picked. That’s alright if it improves communicate. .

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  452. obnoks -  June 18, 2011 - 5:07 pm

    Current over abused and downright overused word, and even more annoying than “ironic”: “epic”. Every God damned thing is epic these days.

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  453. Brett -  June 17, 2011 - 11:29 am

    As I have thought about this, I believe the discussion of “situational irony” here has been generally off base because of the emphasis on the “unexpected” portion of the provided definition. Perhaps the definition could be enhanced to make it more clear, but it seems that many have overlooked the “outcome” part; that is, there is the result of an ACTION in view that is very different from the result that was INTENDED. So, I would say the warm day in Dec, in Minnesota, is not ironic but simply unexpected or unusual. However, flying to Texas in winter to get away from the snow, just in time for the largest Texas snowstorm in 75 years — that’s ironic!

    Also, I have a hard time seeing _all_ disappointing results as ironic. For instance, you go to movies (or purchase any product) because you anticipate that it will be “good” or whatever. If it turns out to be “bad” or counter to your expectations in some way, I don’t see that as rising to the level of irony because you weren’t _intending_ it to be good, just hoping or expecting it to be. If, however, you were going to the movie in order to avoid seeing a visiting relative, whom you actually meet at the theater because he was trying to avoid YOU… ironic. Or you choose a movie with your spouse because you think it will be romantic, but the subject matter actually triggers emotions that drive a wedge between you… etc. The relationship between intention and outcome is the key.

    Since the purpose of words is to communicate, they should be selected according to what you want the hearer/reader to understand. Walk in to a surprise party, that may be unexpected. Notice the absence of your best friend, that may be disappointing. Drop dead from shock in the middle of a celebration affirming your life, that may be ironic.

    At least that’s how I see it.

    And, no, I have not read all the posts here. So, I apologize if I have merely repeated other posts.

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  454. ms zala -  June 17, 2011 - 3:50 am

    how ironic

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  455. macafreakinroni -  June 16, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    Whoops. Correction: …but completely changing a WORD’S meaning is unacceptable.

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  456. macafreakinroni -  June 16, 2011 - 1:49 pm

    This article has done nothing to clarify the proper use of the word ironic. The example of the November day given as supposed misuse seems to meet the criteria. If the author also included an explanation as to why this is incorrect then provided examples of true irony, this article may have been helpful. In addition, so many of the comments posted are by knowledgeable people. If this is the case, why do some agree with the author, while others disagree, even ridicule him?

    Evolution of a language is necessary but completely changing a words meaning is unacceptable. There is not one, but many misused English words. Some are slang and will fade away (I hope) and so don’t get my wing up. This is just the natural generational ebb and flow of the language, not quite evolution. On the other hand, the misuse of words due to laziness or the attempt to sound intelligent sets my teeth on edge. THIS, along with text messaging, will be the downfall of the English language.

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  457. Gene Bell -  June 16, 2011 - 10:26 am

    I believe “awesome” may be the most misused word in the United States these days.
    A second candidate is “ignorant”, as ignorant people often use it as a synonym for “stupid”.
    I am in the “words have meaning” camp.
    The more words an individual knows and embraces the more complex ideas he/she can conceive and share.

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  458. Keith G -  June 15, 2011 - 9:04 pm

    ‘There’ has got to be the most misused word in the English language.
    For Example:

    At the gas station, ‘there’ are many people buying ‘there’ gas because ‘there’ almost out.

    There are three types of this word: there, their, and they’re, and they are misused very often, and it is so annoying when people in HIGH SCHOOL use this word incorrectly, when we learn the difference in ELEMENTARY school. Although this is more of ‘written’ misused word than a ‘phonetic’ one, it is still the most commonly misused word in our language, and I pray for the day when it is finally used correctly by everyone (older than ten years old, at least).

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  459. sharifa -  June 15, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    omg, Jim…best comment ever. I laughed my butt off!

    “and my vote for most misused word? only because we hear it misused at least once every single day in tv commercials: decadence. they constantly use this word when what they really mean is “sumptuousness”, “extravagance”, “delectability”, or even “opulence”. come on, ad guys. look it up. it doesn’t mean what you think it does.”

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  460. Jackson1 -  June 15, 2011 - 4:01 pm

    ‘Pedantic’ is the new ‘ironic’. ERGHHHH

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  461. Jeannette Warnert -  June 15, 2011 - 1:17 pm

    “Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in November. It was really ironic.” I think this statement could be correct if someone was reflecting on the fact that they would have preferred typical, cool November weather. I don’t think the examples of ironic that look like sarcasm are correct.

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  462. Dr. So -  June 15, 2011 - 1:14 pm

    Oh! One more request. I would like to see the latest comment first, again, to avoid frustration. I suppose you could base it on Irony.

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  463. Dr. So -  June 15, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    Hi! Please allow me to first request that you place the comment box at the top of the list of comments to promote comment entry and avoid frustration, unless of course you intended to be ironic.

    As for your request for my judgement on your presentation on the word Ironic, I would agree. However, I have found in my encounters with most persons that the miss is in the majority, and on more than just one word.

    So, I’m afraid we are in a bit of an Aristolian Cave stituation. Should I put myself in the position of potentially getting beat-up for trying to make a person see the shadow for the light? If so, who will compensate me for my future healing expenses?

    I’ve come to the conclusion, we the right of reversal, to let the fools be fools, since we are, after all, all members of a ship of fools.

    And, that, aint Irony!

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  464. Meaghetti and Spatballs -  June 15, 2011 - 7:13 am

    To Dane:

    You write that the word “epic” has shifted towards slang, because it is consciously used as a synonym for “awesome.” What’s funny to me about this is that the current use of awesome is a slang construction, itself using a self-consciously hyberbolic and antiquated word as an emphatic positive adjective. Epic and awesome are only the most recent words in a lineage of distinguished forebears including wicked, seriously, utterly, absolutely fabulous, radical, totally tubular, cool, far out, fantastic, brilliant, spectacular, amazing, good show! and thousands more, back into the mists of time to when apes first gave emphasis to praising that which is mighty fine.

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  465. Koyote Lane -  June 15, 2011 - 7:05 am

    Of course, the language is developing and changing constantly, but I agree that, many times, the way words are used and their newly-assigned definitions drift too far from the words’ original meanings. I believe this is happening in some part because we no longer emphasize Latin in our educational system, although I am certainly no sociologist and my opinion regarding why it’s happening is insignificant.
    I will just say that this drifting away from original meanings annoys me and I am particularly annoyed by the nowadays misuse (but seemingly accepted by some grammarians) of comprise, as in the university is “comprised of” several colleges.
    I see and hear this just about everyday in copy written by professionals, and just a few short years ago, that usage was entirely incorrect.
    I’ll just stick with my old-school ways and continue to say the university “comprises” several colleges.

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  466. Meaghetti and Spatballs -  June 15, 2011 - 6:10 am

    To Jimmy james:

    Dude, lay off the wacky tabacky.

    Reply
  467. Meaghetti and Spatballs -  June 15, 2011 - 5:57 am

    To CJ:

    Not particularly, because it it her own choice to oppose cell phones, rather than something that happened to her. I imagine it would make it difficult to get up in the morning, though. It would be more ironic the other way around, eg. “my friend who opposes cell phones applied for fifty different jobs and the only place that called her back for an interview was the local cell phone company.” Situational irony depends on an event or situation befalling a person. A further one-two double irony would arise if you went on to say, “And she’s been there twenty years. It was the best job she’s ever had. But now she has brain cancer. Go figure.”

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  468. Meaghetti and Spatballs -  June 15, 2011 - 5:29 am

    To Grammar Nazi Hunter, who wrote, “You guys sounds like pretensious jerks.”

    How could we not, given the competition? I can only hope this was meant to be ironic.

    Reply
  469. timecap -  June 14, 2011 - 8:32 pm

    @Ian

    I don`t think “outcome” means what you think it means. Weather isn`t an outcome, for example.

    Your conclusions for 1 and 2 are incorrect, since you`re misinterpreting the word “outcome.”
    Number 3, however, is correct.

    Reply
  470. Popeye -  June 14, 2011 - 5:40 pm

    Harry Potter on December 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Everything is subject to meaning, whatever meaning prevails at a certain given time is a function of power not truth. – Friedrich Nietzsche

    It’s pretty incredible to read how many people say they hate it when someone incorrectly uses a word. They must be mad all the time.

    Harry Potter FTW.

    Reply
  471. Ian -  June 14, 2011 - 4:23 pm

    All three examples that they use to show how it is overused are actually correct uses of irony. They are all examples irony.

    1) Having warm weather in November is an UNEXPECTED OUTCOME.
    Therefore, it is situational irony.
    2) Seeing someone three times in one day, unintentionally, is also an UNEXPECTED OUTCOME. Therefore, it is also situational irony.
    3) Seeing a movie that you thought was going to be bad and having it turn out being the best movie of the year. I think that could be considered UNEXPECTED OUTCOME.

    Reply
  472. CJ -  June 14, 2011 - 4:07 pm

    Maybe I will finally understand how to use this word outside of dramatic irony, by getting your opinion on this real life example.
    Is it ironic that my friend who works for a cell phone company is opposed to the use of cellular phones? Is that situational irony?

    Reply
  473. jr -  June 14, 2011 - 2:21 pm

    This article is very ironic…

    Reply
  474. michael -  June 14, 2011 - 1:50 pm

    Even more annoying than the misuse of words are people who write to blogs expressing their viewpoints with such absolute certainty about words such as “sarcism”, “sarcasism”, or “ackward”. When criticizing the speech and writing of others, it never hurts to use spell-check.

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  475. mhd -  June 14, 2011 - 1:39 pm

    I do not agree that situational irony is just “an outcome that turns out to be very different from what was expected.” This definition would describe a surprise ending, but not irony. To have irony, you would need a surprise reversal that would (in some respect) tweak the reader’s sense of justice, favorably or otherwise.

    For example, if in the end of Hansel and Gretel, the children simply awoke from a bad dream, it might be unexpected but not ironic. However, the children killed the witch in the same oven she had prepared for the death of the children. Thus, the witch’s manner of death is ironic.

    The end of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political career not just unexpected, but also ironic: That public champion of “family values” is found to be a long-term abuser of family values in his private life.

    At the other end of irony, we might consider the death of Jim Fixx, author of the 1977 bestseller “The Complete Book of Running.” Fixx was a major proponent (and profiteer) of the idea that running would prolong a person’s life. But Fixx himself died at the age of 52 of a heart attack — while running.

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  476. michael -  June 14, 2011 - 1:31 pm

    For examples of your definition of dramatic irony see any episode of “Arrested Development”

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  477. Mem Aleph -  June 14, 2011 - 10:54 am

    The apparently non-ironic statement

    “Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in November…”

    is surely an example of situational irony as described mere paragraphs later as

    “an outcome that turns out to be very different from what was expected.”

    Reply
  478. Commenting Chris -  June 13, 2011 - 12:06 pm

    I know this is a really old post, and nobody will probably get this far into the comments…. But here I go anyway. (btw I am no English expert… You can tell by the way I misuse my “…”)

    I think people misunderstand what is meant by “Expected”.

    A warm day in November may not be expected to you, but I bet the weather man knew all about it. – Not Ironic

    Running into the same person three times in one day is just a coincidence. Look at it like this… You may think it was unexpected running into Steve three times yesterday. But nobody else does, people run into each other all the time. Besides your probably work together, go to the same school, and shop at the same grocery store.

    I’ve always looked at Irony as a more intimate thing… Kinda like “God” or whatever you believe in working against someone despite their best efforts. Like the example of the lifeguard drowning, or the car crashing into the “Drive Safe” sign. Not so much the opposite of what was expected, but the opposite of what was INTENDED. Like the Titanic sinking on its first voyage. That was a godsmack for claiming it was unsinkable. If it had happened on the 100th trip it would be less ironic and more unfortunate.

    As for speaking ironically, I don’t see the difference from sarcasm. You can’t speak ironically, because what comes out of your mouth SHOULD be what was intended/expected. I supposed Freudian slips could be ironic, though I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

    I usually let the misuse of ironic go since it is so hard to explain to someone who uses it wrong, as you can see from all the backlash in the comments.

    On a different note, nothing is more annoying than people that misuse the words “than”, and “then”. An easy way to remember is THAN always has to do with value, THEN always has to do with time.

    greater than, less than… more annoying than = value

    got in my car, then I drove home, then I commented on a really old web article. = wasted time (lol)

    Reply
  479. timecap -  June 13, 2011 - 1:44 am

    What I find ironic is that so many people who hang out on a dictionary website and discuss proper word usage don`t seem to grasp basic, elementary grammar.

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  480. greeneyes -  June 8, 2011 - 10:10 pm

    I don’t know if this “ironic”, or really even has anything to do with it, but…. would using the word “irregardless” qualify? Doesn’t that “literally” (hee hee) mean the opposite of what the person is trying to convey? And by the way, is it proper to say “family orientated”? I believe the proper word is “oriented”. My husband says these things and it drives me bonkers! He also will mutilate a phrase, such as “I can’t even phantom (s/b fathom)something like that”, or “grace (s/b grease) my palm”, or “it’s not of an option (???)”, or, lastly, “another (s/b in other) words”. Aaargh! I used to correct him constantly until I decided that it will never change. Could these phrases being mutilated be a regional discrepancy?

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  481. orion -  June 8, 2011 - 11:08 am

    How ironic.

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  482. Jimmy james -  May 31, 2011 - 6:16 pm

    Your definition of situational irony is exactly what your 3rd example of misuse of the word describes. (i.e. summer weather in november IS ironic as the summer weather is very different from what was expected). Without specific definitions language itself ceases to exist. You can see this ocurring (or evolving) throughout the 20th century, meanings are sliding and changing…. it’s a symptom of mass culture becoming dissociative. And why? Because we keep feeding ourselves the illusion that civilization is progress, trying to con ourselves into still helping everyone else before our individual self, when the fact remains that the world in the 20th century is more out of balance than ever before in history, and due to the laws that govern the universe (ie physics, chemistry, etc), mother nature will move toward balance and destroy mankinds’ foolish creations… and possible mankind itself… and we’ll all think it’s bad until we’re in that situation and there’s only 50,000 of us instead of 8,000,000,000 and those 50,000 will experience a liberty and freedom unfathomable to us in the 20th and 21st century.

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  483. table13comic -  May 29, 2011 - 10:52 pm

    what about Socratic Irony? >;)

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  484. Jennifer Beckett -  May 28, 2011 - 5:21 pm

    No. Ironic is a frozen meat truck hitting a cow…

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  485. Dameon Mearom -  May 27, 2011 - 10:06 am

    What about ‘literally’? On this one reality show, some lady said “I. Literally. Died.”

    She didn’t.

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  486. Shilpa -  May 24, 2011 - 10:59 pm

    @oldmanjarrad – I am still laughing!

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  487. Ironic Gal -  May 24, 2011 - 5:51 pm

    @Brenda
    Wow… loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong story, girl! Grammatical errors are okay with me, but I don’t get annoyed much, or correct a person, because it is as rude as… that “friend” of yours, he-he. XOXO

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  488. Ironic Gal -  May 24, 2011 - 5:44 pm

    Okay, I don’t really care much about how to use the word as much as SOME people, but still, I believe Dictionary has a great point. People misuse a TON of words. I might have misused one too. But, I do believe that Dictionary, and SOME people make a way-too-big-of-a-deal of misusing a commonly used word. (rolls eyes) I HATE these words that people overuse and think is cool:
    -ironic
    -epic
    -duh
    -oh wow…
    -literally

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  489. Pjohn -  May 23, 2011 - 3:37 pm

    How about ‘epic’?

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  490. megan -  May 23, 2011 - 8:55 am

    @maureen..
    i think the word you are looking for is AWKWARD! not ackward. you sound dumb.

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  491. Oh my goodness! We were discussing the word 'ironic' in class today!!! How ironic! -  May 19, 2011 - 1:07 pm

    Only joking-I mean, what a coincidence. :-)
    Yes, I know, that word has been completely missused, {:-(} had I ever heard someone misuse that word I would give them a telling off!

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  492. Eric -  May 17, 2011 - 8:48 pm

    Yeah, I think a lot of times people confuse irony with oxymoron, like a couple examples mentioned in this article… If 2 things occur in the same instance that sorta contradict each other (such as a firetruck on fire) someone might mistakenly say it’s “ironic”.

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  493. anonymous -  May 17, 2011 - 8:40 pm

    I can think up of a lot of misused words:

    -like
    -epic
    -awesome
    -literally
    -ironic (duh…)

    Dictionary.com, a warm day in November is pretty normal in some places. Try using a different example instead.

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  494. Jason -  May 17, 2011 - 8:07 pm

    Everyone is talking about abused words, but I feel so sorry for “legitimate”! Being chopped into “legit” like no one cares about the rest of the word……ARGH.

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  495. Rebecca -  May 17, 2011 - 7:59 pm

    i agree completely with this1 there are lots of words that people just use to make themselves seem smarter, when in reality, the don’t know what they’re saying, so they look even stupider!

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  496. Joshua -  May 17, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    I usually take such a rigid stance on these matters, and the misuse of the word irony drives me especially bananas, but it seems to me that language is essentially a tool. If more people use a tool in a certain way than how it was originally intended, shouldn’t it be allowed to evolve? We, as the users, create and use language. It is, therefore, ours to manipulate.

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  497. Hattie -  May 13, 2011 - 4:02 am

    Ignorant. I have never heard anyone abuse any word that bad. Everyday at school, I can’t go by without hearing someone say ‘Tch, you is ignorant.’
    :I
    One example is when we were informed that we weren’t allowed to have holes in our jeans at school because it was inappropriate, a girl yelled out, ‘That’s ignorant!’ In reality the people using the word so much are the ignorant ones.

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  498. Brenda -  May 12, 2011 - 5:38 am

    I think FANTASTIC, and LITERALLY are very misused. And get very annoyed when people share their condolences with “Im sorry for your LOST”….This drives me up the wall.

    Quick story! please dont give up and read all the way!

    This reminds me of a friend of mine, who got so annoyed when people made these type of errors. Worst of all , she never missed the opportunity to stop people dead in their tracks, in the middle of their sentence to say, “ugghh, its not such and such….” then proceeded to make the correction. While i find it annoying myself when people pronounce words incorrectly (as opposed to misusing a word like in this thread), i dont find it necessary to correct someone if they are in the middle of say a funny story or quote. Specially if this someone is not the average Idiot we are forced to either work with, or go to school with. Smh….so when she did it to MEEEE, naturally, I was borderline offended. Not because she corrected me, but because she was so quick to be that obnoxious, “i think i am too smart for everyone” PRICK, that it didnt occur to her that, I might just know the proper way to spell Supposedly is not “supposibly”. and for the sake of the funny story i was in the middle of telling her, WHO THE HELL CARES!! i dont know whats worse, the fact that she pulled that little annoying “Correction” stint on me, or that she actually thought I would make that kind of ridiculous mistake. I figured one day I would stumble on the opportunity to show her that even the smarterst people dont know EVERYTHING, and that one should be open to being wrong once in a while, no matter how smart you think you are. little did i know, that id get my chance so soon, or that she would make it so easy for me. In the middle of a SERIOUS convo not much later (weeks maybe months), she actually thought “asymmetrical” meant that both sides are equal (in other words, the opposite of its meaning)…so i quickly stopped her and said, “you mean symmetrical?” and she, looking at me funny. said..its “asymmetrical”…..I was like uh huh….wow, really?!? and where would you leave the word “symmetrical”?!! she even had the nerve to say I was wrong. (i guess she wasnt my friend after all, huh, given she’s made it very clear on both occasions, that she thinks im some kind of an idiot) she wouldnt even take my word for it. that lord forbid she was wrong. I asked, how did she figure that “asymmetrical” meant equal on both sides, and she said, she thought people used the word “A” in front of “symmetrical” to emphasize that that it means same on both sides, as though you were to take that capital letter A and split it in half…..i coudnt believe what i had just heard….and even then, she STILL thought i was making it up to make her look silly weeks later, as revenge…..wow!….sometimes, you gotta know when to relax and when to be annoyed. I mean really?!?!? I hate when people make simple grammatical errors, but am i really gonna make it a point to write this long response you have just read, with proper structure, sentences, words, and grammar?!?!?! no! this is not a presidential speech!! p.s- you better believe I made sure she learned her lesson for weeks…haha!! – Cheers guys, hope you like my story…

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  499. Emily -  May 9, 2011 - 2:32 pm

    Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!
    There are kids at my school who abuse “just kidding”. I mean, they torture the poor thing. Sometimes they put it in place of “never mind” and other times they just use it to fill in space.

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  500. Fern -  May 9, 2011 - 1:07 pm

    “Ironically, it was the best movie I’ve seen all year!” If such statements are really made to imply interest, that is just sad. But I would argue that this might not be the intent of the statement. If I say,
    “So I’ve been to the theater 6 times this year, and each time, the plot sounded so interesting, that I expected it to be great. I was disappointed each time. Then yesterday, a friend invited me to see a movie. It sounded uninteresting, and I only went so that I could spend time with my friend. Ironically, it was the best movie I’ve seen all year!”
    Would this not be situational irony? Could it be that the person who overhears this quote as he/she walks by, or who has joined the conversation, but is not the target of this particular comment, misinterprets it to be a statement of interest? Is it possible that the person who is being spoken to most likely understands the context- based either on the current conversation as a whole, or on previous discussions and knowing each other well enough to leave out the explanation?

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  501. Giant Waffle -  May 9, 2011 - 12:43 pm

    QUOTE FROM ARTICLE: “Do you agree with our assessment, or do you feel we need to let language evolve no matter how far usage drifts from a precise meaning?”

    RESPONSE: To let language evolve in that way, makes the dictionary useless and meaningless. In other words, just use whatever words you want and let them mean whatever you want them to and you end up with any word meaning any thing and then how do you have a conversation with anyone?

    So the problem is, how could we understand each other? How would I know you’re using the word “door” to mean “car”? After hearing about how you drove your new door, I’m just going to be confused, is all. :)

    Now I realize that many people will want to respond and say; “But I’m not talking about going that far!”. Maybe not, but that’s where it will end up.

    1) Who gets to decide how far is too far?

    2) How are you going to monitor and reign it in when it goes too far?

    3) Once you have changed what certain words mean, that is now their new meaning and that then becomes your starting point for the next change. In other words, here we are now, as proof! :)

    What happened to school? You remember! It was that place where they taught you what words mean and then you used them in that way, to mean that thing? :)

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  502. Charles -  May 3, 2011 - 9:52 am

    What is confusing is the offer to leave it alone or try to keep making corrections.

    As a child and in grade school I remember a teacher chastising a fellow student on the abbreviation of street, as the child gave it the same abbreviation as that for saint. The teacher made the point that if street was abbreviated the same as saint how would a person be able to tell the difference.

    Case and point is today street is NO different and the internet will bare this out. I was taught street was str. an Saint was St., think I am kidding, even now as I write the str. abbreviation it is being shown misspelled. So on that point as people become lazier and want to dummy down the education system because it is so hard and labor intensive to add a letter to justify the meaning and differences between words.

    What is next the letter “s” because the content of the sentence is there and you should be able to read my mind.

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  503. Paul Gray -  May 3, 2011 - 7:22 am

    As an amateur writer I am always interested in the correct usage and pronunciation of a word. I find it ironic that an amateur such as myself will research such things while a pro, as mentioned in the article, will misuse a word like ‘ironic’. Although it may not be popular to bring it up but another example of professionals butchering the English language is the way our previous president mispronounced a word that really bothers me, especially since I work in the nuclear industry. In his defense it is a commonly mispronounced word, but in his case he was the man with his finger on the button yet he could not pronounce the word NUCLEAR. It’s NU-CLE-AR not NU-CU-LAR! Ok, I feel better now.

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  504. Descro -  April 27, 2011 - 11:42 am

    ALthough the word “ironic” tends to be butchered quite frequently, I don’t beleive it is the word that is so called used so wrongly. However, the words epic and like are in almost every sentence nowadays…

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  505. Dane -  April 23, 2011 - 10:29 pm

    I believe that purposefully using a word for a different meaning is different than accidentally using a word for the wrong meaning. Purposefully using a word for a different meaning is slang, whereas accidentally using a word incorrectly is simply misuse. For example, the word “epic” has shifted towards slang, because it is consciously used as a synonym for “awesome”, however, use of the word “ironic” has become, for the most part, misuse. “Ironic” is misused because people generally have a misunderstanding of the definition, believing that it means something more along the lines of “coincidental”. I believe that the most highly misused words are “ironic” as well as “literally”. This is only in my opinion, however.

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  506. Jude -  April 23, 2011 - 9:54 pm

    Unfortunately, I see no way to edit my post, so want to share that I recognize my misuse of jargon when I meant lexicon. Also, I am still a bit soft on this, which is why I started reading this page in the first place, but is the spelling of the word phonetics ironic?

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  507. Jude -  April 23, 2011 - 9:48 pm

    Okay, since this is still active, I have to toss in my biggest pet peeves.
    Number one is still “irregardless.” Call me old fashioned, but while two wrongs do not make a right, two negatives do result in a positive. I appreciate that the word has appeared in dictionaries of “modern usage” but hope that it remains classified as slang.
    Number two is not quite so clear to some. “One of the only” I believe this falls in with “unique.” Unique was mentioned earlier in this thread as having been watered down from its true meaning of being, well, unique. A singular item without equal. Likewise, either something is “the only” example or “one of a few” examples.
    I’ve read an argument by an alleged educated individual (I confess to not going so far as to verify their claimed credentials) arguing why it is an acceptable phrase. I felt that their logic was horribly flawed.
    Yes, language evolves. And certainly the young will always hijack words into their own generational jargon in an effort to feel different than their parents, however, words have meaning. Allowing these meanings to become vague or overly adaptable opens the door to chaos. I have no problem with a text message that reads “u no I luv u” so long as the sender and receiver recognize that this is a convenient way to communicate “You know that I love you.” Otherwise, we are speeding down the road to Orwellian Newspeak, and the death of effective communication. (Side note: if we are going to evolve the English language, for goodness sake, could we PLEASE consider simplifying our spelling. Adopting words from foreign or archaic languages is all well and good, but must we learn new spelling techniques each time we do? (Techniques is a perfect example.) Having learned to read in the 70s, the mere notion of teaching someone to read English phonetically is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever encountered. If anything, it should be spelled “fonetikly.” I will stop here, because if I get started on hard and soft “c” sounds being redundant of existing letters, well, you can see where that would lead.

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  508. Colleen -  April 20, 2011 - 3:46 pm

    Irony has a pretty strict definition, in my eyes, and I only use “irony” when saying that I think someone in a book should know something he doesn’t or react a different way than he did. (“They” is misused, too, taking the place of so many singular nouns. Mabe we could just use “one” or “he”- so much shorter than “he/she” or “that person.”) I never thought to use “ironic” as a word to describe a coincedence. “Irony” has its own purpose as a literary technique. To me, misusing that kind of word is like redefining what it means to use figurative language- if I were to have written a book long, long ago and then died, today, if I were brought back to life, I would try to correct anyone who misunderstands what was meant to be ironic and what was meant to be sarcastic.

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  509. Calum Carlyle -  April 20, 2011 - 8:07 am

    In my opinion the song “Ironic” entirely contains examples of non-irony. Entirely.

    As far as the most abused English word, it is slightly ironic* that a few people have suggested phrases rather than words. I agree “ironic” is widely misused, and so is “literally”. I suspect “actually” is on that list too, but i think the most misused words are likely to be the ones that don’t actually annoy anybody, so we all keep on misusing them, such as “never”. Here’s an example: “I never touched your books” (really? You have *never* touched them? We live in the same house! What you probably mean is that you didn’t move them on this one occasion!) or “I’d never wear that top” (really? Never? What if some guy was about to kill you unless you wore it? How long would your anti-top-wearing principles hold out then? hm?)

    You get the idea…

    * – (this is ironic because it suggests that while they are capable of understanding the definition of “ironic, which is the English language’s equivalent of the offside rule, they are apparently ambivalent about whether something is a word or a phrase)

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  510. Slindsey -  April 20, 2011 - 6:54 am

    One of the words that I feel is overused and misused is “impact”. If two cars run into each other, that is an impact. But if someone said something nice to you and it made you feel good all day long, that is an “effect” or maybe “affect”, but it is not an impact. Also, to carry it further, I’ve heard “impactful” being used many times; I don’t think that is even a word.
    I do not think we should let the language evolve.

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  511. Joe Snarky -  April 19, 2011 - 9:33 am

    The most overused word in recent years is without a doubt ‘phenomenal’. Anyone who works in an office, or even watches TV will notice how its become the latest buzz word. The meaning, in my opinion has become totally devalued. When someone tells me something I’ve done is “phenomenal,” all I hear is, ‘meh’

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  512. Lorax -  April 17, 2011 - 1:23 pm

    huh…. how ironic…

    viv –
    I think that thing that you said about that word “that” is so true that even I use that word too, just as a filler when nothing else seems to work that well. haha! good observation! I agree.

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  513. Dan -  April 17, 2011 - 8:54 am

    viv

    That that is, is. That that isn’t, isn’t. isn’t that so?

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  514. Dan -  April 17, 2011 - 8:44 am

    is it a coincidence that ironic is the most misused word or is It ironic that it is.
    it may be the most misused word but it is the fundamental state of the universe. that every dichotomy implies the seed of its opposit. so ingrained that it goes unnoticed until separated when abstracted into words

    I think “think” is the most loosely interpreted word and “if” is the longest

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  515. Darrell -  April 16, 2011 - 1:38 pm

    How ironic. I was just thinking of this word.

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  516. Pugmire -  April 14, 2011 - 8:27 pm

    Literally. THE most abused, like, literally.

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  517. I.Cat -  April 14, 2011 - 7:26 pm

    My idea of ironic is something unexpected and might be funny after the fact, but it isn’t at the time.

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  518. Sarah -  April 13, 2011 - 4:54 pm

    At dictionary.com, Ironic is defined as “coincidental; unexpected: It was ironic that I was seated next to my ex-husband at the dinner.”

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  519. Viv~ -  April 13, 2011 - 11:49 am

    I know, right?

    lmao

    While I am “all for” language evolving, I would hope it would evolve in a progressive, useful manner–i.e., make sense? I can see the confusion with “situational irony” and “coincidence.” But then, is not one the same?

    Situational irony –> Coincidence… hummm…?? Maybe I need an example of each compared side by side. LITERALLY ha ha…

    I think the work THAT is abused in our language. For purposes of writing extensive research papers, yeah it can be a great filler word–fluff up the B.S. But to see it written , even after being EDITED by so called ‘professional researchers/doctors/scientists/well, all kinds of accredited people …’ who know far more than me, if there is one thing I know, it is the word THAT is not usually necessary when it is used.

    COMPARE:

    I think THAT the word THAT is abused in our language. For purposes of writing extensive research papers that can be fluffed up with this or THAT B.S.– yeah, THAT can be a great filler word. But, to see THAT word written, even after THAT is being EDITED by so called “professionals…” who should know far more than me; one thing THAT I know aside from writing one long a$$ run-on, is THAT you do not have to say THAT word all of the time. THAT is not usually necessary to use, when THAT placement of THAT word THAT is placed and thus, used. =D

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  520. Francis -  April 11, 2011 - 5:56 pm

    661 comments!! Wow

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  521. EL -  April 9, 2011 - 10:50 am

    “Random” and “dude” are used a lot.

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  522. Alan Ashton -  April 8, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    1) If you would stick a dagger through the expression “in terms of,” you would be my hero. That would be awesome.

    2) Can we please cut short the utterance of “I have to admit” when the thing we are admitting causes no difficulty for us? For example: “I have to admit, this turned out to be a nice day.” Really?! My goodness, that must have been SO difficult for you, having to admit that (… he said, sarcastically.)

    3) Finally, please strike out at the villainy of misused “quotation marks.” Advertisements and business signs seem especially prone to this often annoying but occasionally unintentionally humorous attempt to use the old “66 and 99″ as a mark of emphasis where a smarter person might use bold, italics or underlined text instead. A real example: A local bed &linen store advertised (surrounding quotation marks my own) a “sale on 100% pure natural “down” pillows.” Ironically, the quotation marks here suggest that the stuff labeled as “pure and natural” is in fact something other than the real article it proclaims to be.

    4) Yeah, the misuse of “literally” is especially repugnant. I have to admit, in terms of “abuse,” this one literally takes the cake. I am not being ironic. I can’t find my cake; have you seen it?

    5) “Just kidding.” Ugh.

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  523. Name here -  April 6, 2011 - 4:33 pm

    While ironic is definitely used incorrectly many times, the most abused word in the English language is either “gay” or “retarded”. So many people misuse that word at my school, it’s not even funny…

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  524. Princess Lea -  April 6, 2011 - 11:06 am

    @KC, I think you should have your students watch Futurama’s Idle Hands Are The Devil’s Play Things/ S4 E18. By far the best episode of the whole show, and also very educational. Throughout the episode the Robot Devil misuses the word Irony, to which Bender corrects him, and finally when the Robot Devil uses it correctly Bender sings out the definition and states “Now that is irony!” That’s how I learned the definition, and how I quote it back at people.

    p.s. Sory my grammar sucks, I went to inner city public school.

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  525. JD -  April 5, 2011 - 8:33 am

    My friends misuse this phrase way too much. Our English teachers shake their heads at them so much I swear their necks are going to snap one day.

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  526. justin -  April 5, 2011 - 8:00 am

    literally is also a well known misused word.

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  527. CLAYTON -  April 5, 2011 - 7:54 am

    For example, if you were trying to be ironic on a stormy, dreary day, you might say: “What glorious weather!”

    Or if you were suffering from a bad cold, you might ironically say: “I feel like a million bucks.”

    Although these are ironic sayings, aren’t they facetious as well???

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  528. GrammarPatrol -  April 5, 2011 - 7:49 am

    There is no such word as “ackward” (sounds like a cat coughing a hairball)– it’s awkward! And Cat’s Pajamas, word usage IS important. I would never hire someone who misuses “your” and “you’re” and certainly not someone who can’t even be bothered to go beyond “ur.” The ability to string together 6 words to form a coherent sentence is rapidly dying through sheer ignorance and laziness. JFK once said something along the lines of “ignorance will be the downfall of democracy.”

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  529. sarawelder -  April 4, 2011 - 8:39 am

    the misuse of “momentarily ” cannot be excused as a teen trend. . I used to be very afraid of flying. When I moved to the USA I was not reassured by the captain that the flight would ” take off momentarily”… I was hoping it would take off and stay in the air for 8 hours !. I was also horrified that even the” English” teacher at my childrens’ school said “you did good” when she obviously meant that they had done well. I found that ironic.

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  530. language is subject to interpretation -  April 3, 2011 - 11:09 pm

    Like, Groovy, Great, Awesome, actually.. and many more..i am sure i’ve been ignorantly abusing english words too as a result of learning by doing with english as a foreign language. I am sorta picking up words here and there from adult-natives who are likely to talk more informal and sometimes slangy.. either way, basically i can accept the dynamic of languages until it starts to be a way too much like ‘like’.

    IRONICALLY, i can accept that huge social-networking industry like Facebook that come up with their abusive single-option of ‘like’ as responding remark, which is in fact represent pretty varied meanings for the users—based of my own experience.

    To me, when i ‘like’ something on FB, it could mean; i like it, thank you, i’ve read your comment but i can’t reply somehow, i want this product!, wow!, agree!, i appreciate your comment, i think so!, that’s good!, thanks for saying that!, thanks for commenting, i appreciate your pop-up here!, etc.. :D

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  531. ontoursecretly -  April 1, 2011 - 2:50 pm

    I think “literally” is becoming almost as abused, poor thing. As for the unfortunate situation of the word “irony,” it is natural for a word to, in popular usage, mean the opposite of its academic definition (possibly a case of irony, but I reserve judgment). Usually, when people mistakenly say something is ironic, they actually mean it is apt, or are trying to scramble for an adjective to convey poetic justice. I wonder if the Germans have such an adjective?

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  532. Nafdrow -  April 1, 2011 - 9:47 am

    Check out the word for today (April Fools Day): gravitas, meaning high seriousness. Whoever chose that word for today has a clear grasp of irony. Funny!

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  533. Denise L. -  April 1, 2011 - 9:22 am

    @ Random Aside: You are absolutely right. Rob’s example of irony in this situation (son and tweezers meet electricity) is apt and I think people need to think a little deeper sometimes to see the irony. There is a good example on TV right now. It is a McDonald’s commercial and a man is eating yet another filet o’ fish sandwich. Two goldfish are speaking to each other in their bowl as they look on and one is scared that the man might be interested in eating them, given his fondness for fish. One goldfish pacifies his partner by explaining that they are lowly goldfish and no one wants to eat them. We then see a cat in the background, obviously plotting a way to eat the goldfish. That’s ‘dramatic irony’ where the audience (tv viewer) is aware of something that other characters (goldfish) are not. This irony creates the humour of the commercial. One of the best examples of situational irony is found in the story “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl. I won’t summarize the story. Those of you who want a clear example of situational irony should read it. There is also an old “Twilight Zone” production of the story on Youtube (but the story is better). Coincidentally, the word I am fed up with (not literally though) is the word “random”. A lot of people overuse it and misuse it. I am NOT suggesting that of you, of course.

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  534. sophi -  March 29, 2011 - 3:50 pm

    Is there a reason the metal iron is used in this word?

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  535. Lora -  March 28, 2011 - 5:00 pm

    Another word I hate seeing misused is “infamous”. Lots of people seem to think it means “really famous” but it really means being famous for bad or negative reasons, like Hitler or Vlad the Impaler or Paris Hilton. :)

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  536. A Person -  March 27, 2011 - 7:34 pm

    Poor ‘ironic’! I hate to see things abused, including words. Strangely, ever since I learned the meaning of the word (a few years ago), I have never misused it. To oldmanjarrad (first comment): That’s really funny! I wish something like that would happen to me!

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  537. Lora -  March 27, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    Shoot! I think I misused “ironic” today making a comment on an awful YouTube video where a girl is “teaching” how to act “retarded” (her word, not mine). I said it was possibly the most “ironic” video I ever saw. But if I said it was the most intelligent video I ever saw most people would not know I was being “ironic” from not being able to hear the tone in my voice.
    Also, other words that I think are misused and overused are “epic”, “allegedly”, and “apparently”. Apparently is supposed to mean the same as “obviously” but a lot of people use it to mean the same as “vaguely” or “seemingly”. I also hate it when people say “literally” for something that did NOT happen literally, such as “He literally hit the ceiling.” I get this mental picture of a guy jumping up and punching the ceiling with his fist, ha ha!

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  538. oldtimer -  March 26, 2011 - 12:44 pm

    Ah, but ‘LOL’ has been entered in the Oxford as a word (only recently)

    As and old-timer, I would be less a stickler for holding fast to word usage if the new modifications were not so abundant that I cannot keep up with communications of the younger generations – argh! “What are you saying?” Nay, what am I hearing?

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  539. Autumn -  March 26, 2011 - 12:06 pm

    anyone ever see the comic where the cat is looking out the window of his house because he sees two trucks that wrecked, one containing rodents, and the other containing flightless birds; they had all escaped from the trucks and the cat was wanting to go get them, but couldn’t because the window was stopping him from doing it. my teacher showed us that picture and told us how and why that was ironic.

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  540. Anonymous -  March 24, 2011 - 6:58 pm

    I know it isn’t a word, but “Lol” is way overused on the internet when you think about what it stands for.

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  541. Cat's Pajamas -  March 24, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    NOBODY CARES!!! the purpos of language is to get ur point accross……i can do that with HAND MOTIONS. so stop arguing about the meaning of the word “irony” and FIX THE ECONOMY before CHINESE ppl take oVER!!

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  542. Ren -  March 24, 2011 - 10:08 am

    Not that anyone will read this far down, but to comment on some of the folks who are frustrated by teenagers’ use of words like epic and awesome, it is key to point out that every generation has a catch phrase. Copacetic was one for a while, the definition being “everything in order” but became synonymous for “alright” or “cool” or anything under the sun. So, there will always be those who incorrectly use words in order to fit them to their own thoughts and ideas. It is up to the grammar and word nazi’s to ensure they protect their own diction and be an example instead of stressing out over other people’s words.

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  543. doctorbob -  March 22, 2011 - 5:42 pm

    Dress shirts I’d dropped off at a recently opened dry cleaners were actually more wrinkled than when I’d dropped them off ! I asked the owner, “Is this ironic ?” His response to me, “You be sarcastic, mistah?”

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  544. Roxanne -  March 21, 2011 - 11:22 am

    Another frequently misused word is “awkward”. Perhaps this is just among teenagers, but so often I hear people saying that something is “awkward” when it is in fact simply strange or uncommon. I have to bite my tongue to stop from correcting them and creating a truly awkward moment.

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  545. Entity -  March 20, 2011 - 9:49 am

    I do see the word “ironic” misused all the time. It is difficult to get by that, of course, but one of the things that I simply cannot get by, is the misuse of the words “barely” and “almost”.

    Then the irony running parallel to “Muphry’s” Law, one I love to use.

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  546. Macca -  March 19, 2011 - 6:12 pm

    What I find ironic about this article is that it outlines how “ironic” is misused in language, but then fails to give any examples of how it should be used. Now I’m prepared for the possibility that I have, in fact, used the word wrong in this very comment, but can I really be held accountable when I haven’t been given a clear idea of how I should be using it?

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  547. Caroline -  March 19, 2011 - 2:27 pm

    Without a doubt you are all hot upon the correct answer. However, the

    most misused overused and abused word is:iconic.

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  548. Aflac -  March 17, 2011 - 6:59 pm

    In an interview someone reprimanded Alanis Morissette for “not having any actual ironies in her song.” Her response, “Isn’t it ironic?”

    I see a few people mentioned this before me, but, yes, a song titled “Ironic” which does not feature any actual ironies, merely coincidences, is in fact, ironic.

    Props to Alanis Morissette for her brilliant song and for confusing the general public.

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  549. Ritalicious -  March 17, 2011 - 12:48 pm

    Then again, there’s words like ‘dude’, that don’t have the same meaning as it did a hundred and something years ago. I wouldn’t stop using this word no matter what it meant then as a greeting to my teenage friends. Slang can be redefine at any time, but let real words be used correctly.

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  550. Random Aside -  March 17, 2011 - 9:13 am

    This is in response to the numerous disparaging comments re: Rob’s story about his 4-yr-old son, who stuck a pair of tweezers into an electrical socket.

    This is actually quite a nice example of irony; in fact, it’s probably my favorite on this thread. I believe what Rob was trying to express is that one would EXPECT his son to develop a fear of ELECTRICITY; instead, the little guy developed a somewhat irrational (albeit entirely understandable) aversion to TWEEZERS.

    Tweezers aren’t particularly dangerous, as a general rule; it was the electrical socket that caused the problem.

    So, to everyone who keeps telling Rob that his anecdote is the “opposite” of irony, and “Of Course his son should be afraid of tweezers!” – I would suggest reading his post again.

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  551. denise -  March 16, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    I am amazed at how many people use the word “draw” when they mean “drawer”. I see it in “used furniture for sale ads” describing a piece of furniture with “3 draws” or “it has dovetail draws”. I’ve also heard people clearly say “draw” for the word “drawer”. It is an awkward* word to pronounce, perhaps they are just being lazy, but my guess is they don’t know the word “drawer.”

    *a word people struggle to spell (see other comments made)

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  552. AWalton -  March 15, 2011 - 3:34 pm

    Using the word “literally” when figuratively is meant has probably become more abused than “ironic” (also putting words in quotes has become abused but that’s a different subject. Mortified and Vexed are also ofter misused. As for the excuse that language evolves, that’s all it is, an excuse for wretched grammar and ignorance.

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  553. Mnau -  March 14, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    Random and aspect

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  554. Davey Buckles -  March 14, 2011 - 11:44 am

    I submit the word ‘epic’ as the most abused and overused word.

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  555. Wroclaw Man -  March 8, 2011 - 7:11 pm

    The single most abused word in the English language is ‘ignorant’. Most people, I believe, are ignorant to its rue meaning. All too often I have heard it used in the progressive tense (as my English teacher used to say, “it is like being pregnant; either you are or you aren’t”) and with a meaning more akin to a#@ hole than “lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned”. It drives me nuts. I

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  556. David -  March 8, 2011 - 1:53 pm

    It’s one of the most abused words, yes. In my opinion, however, the literal definition of verbal irony has been made obsolete by sarcasm – which is widely recognized – and should be changed to define an event which involves a person or object that possesses characteristics or attributes relevant to the event. Or, more precisely, an event that was caused, directly or indirectly, by a person, but ends up having a negative outcome for that person.

    Animal rights activists getting trampled by animals they set free = ironic.

    A car crashing into a billboard that promotes safe driving = ironic.

    animekiss’s example of Stewie’s house catching on fire after he bought stress release candles is considered ironic in today’s modern definition. A coincidence would be if Stewie had bought a new puppy the day before the fire; the purchasing of the puppy and the burning down of his house are unrelated. It is irony only because of the fact that he bought stress relief candles; even if the candles were not the direct cause of the fire, they employ fire to relieve stress, yet a terribly stressful event involving fire occurred the very day after they were purchased. Thus, irony.

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  557. austin -  March 7, 2011 - 2:40 am

    i quite honestly agree that this word has been ‘bastardized’ in the American Language. I hear it in virtually every American movie. The word has been so ‘abused’, that it should seek redress in the English Language Court!

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  558. wolfmurphy -  March 5, 2011 - 10:30 am

    My students use literally, seriously, totally, and like in similar fashions. Because English is ambiguous, computers tend not to be, and I am training them to tend computers, I take their words at face value, and respond accordingly. It becomes a tacit game for them to express correctly. I don’t linger on the game, since it is a computer science class, and not an English class, but “like” quickly disappears from use in my class, since I am extraordinarily good at seeing how one thing can be like another. I acknowledge their statements with “like”, but take it in an opposite direction from what they intended.

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  559. wolfmurphy -  March 5, 2011 - 10:17 am

    I wonder if you have the stomach for a response to your request for words suffering a similar fate as “ironic”. I know of a word for throat, borrowed from Greece, whose meaning kept migrating to lower and lower body parts. I contend that metamorphosis, though not ironic, bespeaks quite the interesting evolution.

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  560. teddy -  March 3, 2011 - 7:26 am

    I am a softskills trainer and I feel a couple of words are actually abused.. literally seriously totally is used in every sentence for no reason at all..

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  561. animekiss -  March 1, 2011 - 12:00 pm

    I was watching an episode of Family Guy a while back. Stewie (from the future. You FG fans know what I’m talkin’ about) got some candles for stress release. The next day, his house set on fire, and one of the firefighters said “Irony!”. I thought it was coincidence, not irony. I do agree that the word is overused, but the American public is just…..i guess going to be the American public.

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  562. Justin -  February 26, 2011 - 9:37 am

    The first of these three definitions of irony is inaccurate and is simply describing sarcasm. The two are not simply different in degree. What you attempt to describe as “situational” irony is the closest you come to getting it right. It’s a difficult word to define precisely, but it would still be better if you avoided spreading further misinformation about the word. Especially since the site is holding itself out as a dictionary website!

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  563. Phil -  February 26, 2011 - 9:20 am

    What would be an appropriate replacement for the word “ironic” in most incidents? bizarre? strange? maybe a concatenation of circumstances?

    Ultimately, are not words supposed to convey an idea? Is not a language merely a set of words that a group of people use to describe various ideas?

    On the other hand, our language is based off of other languages (such as Latin); therefore, they should have set meanings.

    So, why not create a new word to describe what most people believe “ironic” means that is based off of root words from Latin or Greek? I don’t know enough of either to have even the slightest idea of what that would be or sound, but it might worth exploring.

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  564. Claudia -  February 26, 2011 - 6:51 am

    Ironic is definitely a misused word, but as a 14-year-old, I hear more of words like “literally” and “legit,” which is short for “legitimate”. A common problem:

    “You’re literally hot.” In the dictionary definition of the word, “literal” means taken in its most basic sense, without metaphor or allegory. Therefore, if you say someone is literally hot, people will assume you mean having a high degree of heat. But people who use the phrase mean “hot” as in attractive. Both “literally” and “legit” are improperly used as synonyms for “really” or “very”.

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  565. Michael -  February 24, 2011 - 1:24 pm

    Language and the meanings of words will evolve over time. Period. But it would perhaps be admirable and even practical if language evolved in an intentional or informed way, rather than out of simple ignorance! Ignorance is nothing to be proud of, being haphazard and sloppy by nature, which breeds illogical thinking, which sets people up to being maniplated by those who are smarter and more powerful than they are — a widespread enough phenemenon as it is. The informed use of language, on the other hand, at least cloths society in a certain amount of dignity. It suggests, “we know what we are doing — we are not illiterate. We may decide to flout the rules, alter the facts, but at least we took the time to learn them — just in case they were beneficial.” So, we should accept that language will change because much of the population may not have had the education to know the accepted definitions of the words they are using. But it surely isn’t a virtue. Rather, it is the end result of the random blathering of a large number of people reaching critical mass. And it puts us all in danger of being rhetorically confounded by any stump speaker, demagogue, unscrupulous politician, or marketer that cares to proclaim, falsely, that “x = b.” (BTW, Writers, poets, and academics are classic examples of folks who make words up *professionally* or use well-known words in unconventional ways to achieve a certain effect, and perhaps this effect catches on in contemporary culture and becomes common parlance. Marketers are another, though perhaps more obnoxious and pernicious, example.) Keep your wits about you, people.

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  566. Clark -  February 24, 2011 - 6:32 am

    This may be the most replies for any article Dicionary.com has published.

    And How ironic that Maureen would misspell ‘awkward’ so many times in a clumsy way. She must have felt very Ackward when she realised.

    It’s ironic that dictionary.com seems to have made the definition of ‘ironic’ less clear than before.

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  567. Randy -  February 19, 2011 - 5:52 pm

    The most abused word? That is easy…the word “need”. As in “You need to tell me what you were doing last night”. No…I don’t. You may need to know what I was doing but I have no need on any level to tell you that.

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  568. Randy -  February 19, 2011 - 5:33 pm

    The most abused word? That is easy…the word “need”. As in “You need to tell me what you were doing last night”. No…I don’t. You may need to know what I was doing but I have no need on any level to tell you that.

    It is misused everywhere but it is a personal word. I know what I need. You can’t possibly know what I need unless I tell you. Yet people say it in that tense all the time and it creates confusion when one considers the literal meaning of a sentence. It is in print everywhere in contemporary commercial fiction but the interesting thing is I have been reading classics just to see if it was misused there as well and ta da!!…It wasn’t. My opinion is that this little English grammar problem is a symptom of a bigger societal problem. Everyone seems to know what is best for everyone else but pay too little attention for what is best for themselves.

    Anyway, people need to stop misusing this word. (see how stupid that sounds?)

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  569. 芸術家 -  February 19, 2011 - 3:34 pm

    “A cool example of the difference between the two happened to me when my boyfriend and I were visiting my sister, who had company over. The bf and I were sitting cheek to cheek in the middle of a six-foot-wide swinging bench, and my sister’s friend asked of us, “Could you sit any closer?” Unsure whether she knew that we were boyfriends, I leaned over to my sister and asked “is she being ironic or sarcastic?” As it turned out, she didn’t know we were boyfriends, so the question was ironic.” – Erawlins

    I am sorry, but this is not irony. Asking “Could you sit any closer?” to two people sitting pressed up to one another even though there is space on either side of them is Sarcasm. It does not matter if she didn’t know you were dating, or not. This question is not ironic, and doesn’t even follow your logic at the beginning of your comment. Your friend KNOWS that you are sitting really close and asks: “Could you sit any closer?” like you are sitting apart from each other, so it is sarcasm. Wether you are boyfriends or not has no relevance to the question she asked. It doesn’t suddenly become irony just because she doesn’t know your dating. It is sarcasm wether she has that information or not.

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  570. 芸術家 -  February 19, 2011 - 2:40 pm

    Everyone who keeps arguing that those examples “are” situational irony” are proving the point “This third type is the most prone to ambiguity and personal interpretation, setting up the potential for misunderstanding, and misuse.” You all are trying to say that “Coincidence” and “Situational Irony” are the same, which is untrue.

    “Coincidence” is “a chance occurrence of events remarkable either for being simultaneous or for apparently being connected”. So, the first example of misusing “irony”: “This is the third time today we’ve run into each other” is Coincidence – not Situational Irony – since it is an abnormal occurrence and they seem like they are connected, which they are not. You just happened to run into each other three times in the same day, that is all. Situational Irony is “an outcome that turns out to be very different from what was expected.” When people say “this is third time today we’ve run into each other”, they didn’t expect not to see that person at all that day, and it is not like they haven’t run in to them before, so the fact that they ran into each other three times that day is not ironic. Though it may be abnormal that you ran into each other three times on the same day, it is not a stretch of the imagination in any way. It is very possible, it just may not be a “normal” occurrence. But it isn’t very hard to exceed normal. For example: it may be “normal” that you don’t get calls in the morning, but if one day you get two or three, that can be called “abnormal” so it is a coincidence, but it isn’t situational irony. You may not expect it, but it isn’t “very different from what was expected”. It is very possible to get a call or two in the morning despite not getting them usually.

    “Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day in November.” is also a coincidence. Like I said for the first example, though you may not particularly expect it, it is not a stretch of the imagination. November is an Autumn month, and although Autumn is a season in its own right, in terms of weather – like Autumn’s more colloquial term “Fall” suggests – it is more of a transitional period between Summer and Winter since the temperature “falls” throughout this season. In this transitional season, like with the other transitional season “Spring”, there is a fluctuation in the temperature throughout. So there are varying warm and cold days throughout the season. Although you expect it to be on the cold side in November, since it is the last Autumn month, it is not unheard of to have a warm day in November.

    Many of you are trying to argue that ‘Ironically, it was the best movie I’ve seen all year!” is ironic if you are talking about a movie people said was going to be a bad movie. Although even if you expected it to be a bad movie and it was the best movie you have seen all year, that is not Irony. Although this is an unexpected event it is not impossible. It happened to be the best movie of the year despite you thinking it was gong to be a bad movie, but that is just an interesting fact, not Situational Irony. It is more of a coincidence since it just happened to be your favourite movie of the year despite what you or others thought beforehand.

    So, basically, they are seemingly similar ideas, but Coincidence is more of a casual, abnormal occurrence, while Situational Irony is more on the extreme side and is much more common in literature than in speech – if it is even possible in speech. Irony as a whole is much easier to establish in academic written form and occurs more frequently that way, than in casual text, or in speech.

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  571. tresakon -  February 18, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    Awesome…..does anyone really even remember what it means? How can a hamburger be as AWESOME as the sight of an injured soldier taking his first step after rehabilitation? To be awed by something should be a moving experience…..not just to satisfy one’s tastebuds.

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  572. Bertie -  February 18, 2011 - 10:41 am

    Melissa,
    Quote:
    “I have two examples of irony from my own life, and they both deal with medications. The first example is that I was taking antidepressants and decided to stop taking them. Instead of spiraling back down into depression, which would be the expected outcome, I actually entered a state more similar to mania for a few days. Eventually I did return to my depressed baseline, but one would not expect mania after stopping taking antidepressants.”

    NO, SADLY, THIS IS NOT AN EXAMPLE OF IRONY, MERELY INDICATIVE OF THE FACT THAT YOU ARE BI-POLAR

    The second example is that taking birth control has killed my sex drive. People take birth control so that they can have sex without worrying about getting pregnant. But if the prescription takes away your sex drive, then you don’t care about having sex. Although, in a way, maybe this isn’t irony because it still has the intended consequence of not getting pregnant if I don’t have sex. Hmmm….

    DITTO

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