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Often referred to as the 'lowest form of wit', sarcasm is often confused with irony. Sarcasm involves a composer (most commonly a speaker) saying something that is the opposite of what they really mean. The important difference between the two is that sarcasm is correctly defined as being a humorous and deliberately mocking or insulting the object or person towards whom it is directed. Sarcasm is most commonly used in spoken texts.

Refer to the animation Simple verbal irony lesson
This sound file demonstrates sarcasm as a language feature that you should be aware of already.

Verbal Irony

There are a number of forms of irony. In its simplest definition, irony occurs when what is said (verbal) is in contradiction to what is meant. Again, this should not be confused with sarcasm. Irony does not need to be as mocking or insulting as sarcasm.

Refer to the Sarcasm audio file.
Other forms of more complex examples of irony are included in 'Skills by Mode: Reading and Writing.