Irony: noun - a pretence of ignorance used to entice others into saying things that can then be challenged; the use of language, normally expressing the opposite, to make some point; humorous use of praise to suggest condemnation or contempt.
In literature, irony is a device, in which the actual meaning is hidden or contradicted by the literal meaning of what is said or written. In dramatic irony, there is incongruity between what’s expected and what actually happens. Irony often comes from a resigned awareness of the contrast between what is and what should be and is expressed through controlled pathos lacking sentimentality. It’s a type of indirection that avoids overt praise or censure, as in the casual irony of statements like, ‘Brilliant!’ meaning, ‘Stupid’, or ‘The comprehensive philanthropy of conservative politics.’ meaning ‘The absolute self-serving meanness of conservative politics.’.
When used in a none literary fashion, irony is usually called ‘sarcasm’.
There is a pervasive theory amongst Brits that Americans have no understanding of irony, which probably stems from the British characteristic of self-deprecation contrasted with what the islanders see as the brash self-confidence of the newer country.
‘When Brenda referred to the level of intellectual tension conveyed by the two naked female mud-wrestlers, Bryan was oblivious of her irony and actually took his eyes off the action in order to agree with her.’
Picture: In the days before Google took over Blogger, I was able to associate posts with free images through a little widget called Zemanta. I might've delighted some of you, disgusted others, with a picture of nude women mud-wrestlers, but you'll have to make do with this picture of a local landscape, taken on a walk just a short distance from my home. I don't think there's any irony here; unless you think otherwise, of course.