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. CamelOfCuriosity -  December 7, 2016 - 5:58 pm

    I think “like” is the most abused word. It can be used the normal way E.G., I like this ice cream, or it can be used the abusive way, which is how most people use it E.G., He is like, so like, cute do you like, think I should like, ask him out? Not trying to be mean or critical, I’m just stating my opinion so don’t get mad and rage reply this post.

  2. Jadon -  December 7, 2016 - 4:20 am

    I think the most abused word in the american english dictionary is awesome. A sandwich is awesome. A movie is awesome. She is awesome. He is awesome. The view was awesome. The song is awesome. I’m awesome. You’re awesome……….

    • jimjam flimflam -  December 8, 2016 - 2:32 am

      thank you. You’re very awesome yourself

  3. LaLubique -  December 5, 2016 - 12:42 am

    That shifting of meaning is very interesting as in French Ironie is really what originaly Irony was (saying one thing, meaning the contrary) and is also one of the foundation of the French sens of humour.

  4. Bnburley -  November 15, 2016 - 8:14 am

    Ironically, the most abused word in the English language (at least in the US), isn’t even a word. The non-word is irregardless.

  5. Sythegod -  November 12, 2016 - 3:39 pm

    I believe that the world “literally” is the most abused word in the English language. Reasons? People may say the words “He/She literally crapped bricks,” this is wrong, as he/she did so figuratively. However, The words “He/She literally broke his/her arm,” if the party in question broke his/her arm, then the usage of literally is correct in the statement. Dictionary.com has gone so far to add figuratively as a definition of literally as well.

    • Shirish -  December 5, 2016 - 8:49 pm

      “He/She literally crapped bricks,” “He/She literally broke his/her arm,” are these not examples of irony?

  6. Haley -  November 10, 2016 - 3:06 pm

    I was the only one in my eighth grade class who knew what the word ironic meant. When the teacher asked us, everyone else was clueless. One student guessed it was something made of iron.

    • Maurie -  November 14, 2016 - 4:49 pm

      8th grade? And no one knew?

    • jace norman -  November 18, 2016 - 10:30 am

      I’m 16 and I liteterally dint know what it means

      • Mark Haddon -  December 7, 2016 - 7:46 pm

        you’re 16 and you don’t know how to spell didn’t ! WOW !

  7. Confused -  November 10, 2016 - 4:57 am

    Wait, this article completely mixed up my definition of irony. Is it really like sarcasm? I learned that an example of irony would be whispering,” Turn down for what?!” since… well… you… get it…

    Please do not ridicule me for my misunderstanding.
    Thank You

    • Aidan -  November 29, 2016 - 8:55 pm

      Well there are three different types of irony; dramatic irony, situational irony, and verbal irony, what you are refereeing too would be verbal irony which is when someone says one thing but means another. i.e. your friend just feel in the mud and you say “You look fantastic.” Dramatic Irony would be something used in things like plays, poetry, and movies, this is just a situation that the audience knows more about than the characters, often used to set up conflicts. i.e. in a scary movie, the character walks into a house and the audience knows the killer is in the house. Situational Irony is just when you expect one thing to happen vs. what actually happens. i.e. a fire station burning down or a police station getting robbed.

    • Aidan -  November 29, 2016 - 9:00 pm

      And about it being sarcasm, you would be referring verbal irony as they are similar. However, one is, like the article said, meant to ridicule, and would be a crude action. Irony has virtually the same meaning just without the intent of ridiculing the recipient.

  8. Lu Blue -  October 16, 2016 - 5:32 pm

    The way I see it, sarcasm has evolved to mean what you define ironic as. To me, ‘ironic’ means… basically like being sarcastic except it’s more situational. Someone can’t really be ironic, but something can be. Whereas something can’t be sarcastic, but someone can. Personally I’d rather have sardonic, sarcastic and ironic have their own specific meaning than all meaning the same thing. In my view, sarcasm is basically using language that implies the opposite for humorous effect or just to emphasize something, where as sardonic…ism? is to mock someone, and irony is not really something you can control.

    • Nico -  December 4, 2016 - 11:44 am

      La Blue… sarcasm is being rude … and it is ridiculing someone … also it depends on the person too… my whole family was sarcastic, we all have thick skin… so it didn’t bother us … where as if I said those things to a more sensitive person or a stranger … they could feel like I was making fun of them (sarcastically) beating mean …. I know what I’m trying to say … I don’t think I said it … but yes it’s not a good thing in these politically correct days

  9. Hi -  October 12, 2016 - 4:34 pm

    OMG there is so much “iron” on this page it makes me want to throw out my iron pills and burn the bottle for fuel… LOL

  10. Sans -  October 11, 2016 - 5:10 am

    Homestuck, anyone?

    • tbrake77 -  October 12, 2016 - 11:11 am

      so basically its the same as an oxymoron

      • Ketchup -  October 16, 2016 - 6:28 pm

        It seems the freezer is burning! Ironic.

      • Karen B -  November 23, 2016 - 9:51 am

        oxymoron ~ has a few more stipulations. you must use contradicting words in conjunction. as “deafening silence.” (silence so loud you can’t hear anymore.)

    • John Egbert -  October 12, 2016 - 5:28 pm

      Hell. yeah.

    • turntechgodhead -  November 21, 2016 - 10:13 am

      whats that

    • tipsyGnostalgic -  December 2, 2016 - 9:39 am

      frig yes
      its SO tight
      like a pickle jar that you try to open
      but you can’t
      so u just put the jar back
      yall just say “like i even WANTED pickles that bad

  11. gnimaGXFMS -  October 7, 2016 - 10:19 am

    I think it’s ironic that nobody who commented here truly knows what the word “ironic” means. Yeesh.

    • Oni -  October 11, 2016 - 8:19 am

      Oh thank god you showed up with your infinite wisdom! You have the right answer, but this darn site must have neglected to post your explanation. Why don’t you tell us what the word “Ironic” actually means since you’re the only one who really knows what it means?

      • benched -  November 6, 2016 - 8:03 pm

        Oni, here, use this I copied and pasted it..
        using or characterized by irony.
        “his mouth curved into an ironic smile”
        synonyms: sarcastic, sardonic, cynical, mocking, satirical, caustic, wry
        “Edward’s tone was ironic”
        happening in the opposite way to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this.
        “it was ironic that now that everybody had plenty of money for food, they couldn’t obtain it because everything was rationed”
        synonyms: paradoxical, incongruous
        “it’s ironic that a former illiterate is now a successful writer”

    • hello i am scared -  October 19, 2016 - 8:04 am

      I am so scared right now


      • hello i am scared -  October 19, 2016 - 8:05 am

        never mind im good
        it was just ironic

    • Nico -  December 4, 2016 - 11:47 am

      Exactly ! Thank you …

  12. Steven -  April 4, 2016 - 7:12 pm

    Ironically the author of this article explains what irony is by giving sarcastic examples of irony.

    • Bob Sagit -  April 13, 2016 - 3:54 pm

      Took the words right out of my mouth

      • Bill Knowles -  May 1, 2016 - 2:23 am

        You may put those words back in your mouth.
        You may need them one day. Perhaps you tell your attorney that in the contract for the new shopping center you require buildings be constructed of materials that cannot possibly burn. unfortunately your attorney was a sociology major and not an English major. He didn’t like litigation so now he’s at work Jones Smith whatever. He writes to the architect that the building is to be made is inflammable as possible. Upon receiving the letter, the architect does his best to design a building that is flammable.After gutting the fire extinguishers and fire alarms, the sprinkler pipe, And the heavily insulated electrical wiring, he has added kindling and oily rags between the framing while ensuring there are at least a few matches between each framed wall. While Alanis s still trying to figure out which words in one of her songs are ironic, when the fire inspector mentions that inflammable and flammable are ironic you might just want to say you took the words right out of my mouth.

        • Hi -  October 12, 2016 - 4:22 pm

          This is so random… LOL!

        • Cody -  October 20, 2016 - 6:35 am


          Sincerely, Cody

        • Jacquelyn Hyde -  November 4, 2016 - 3:53 pm

          There are several forms of irony, unmentioned thus far.
          I was going to add to Bill Knowles’s interesting post, giving an example of the changed meaning of ‘flammable’ and ‘inflammable’ over recent years. I have this written down on this computer so I began to search, rather than type another. I’d got as far as “flamm” when the message appeared: “No matches.”
          That’s irony!

          Jacquelyn Hyde.

          • Utkarsh Birla -  November 20, 2016 - 12:27 am

            Take a bow! You figured it out!

            The story did have too much irony. I had to read it twice to understand. :P :P

            I’m not going to comment on the definition/explanation of irony or of sarcasm. I used to be clear about them, but now I’m clearer that the modern times have overused the word “irony” and the true sense of the word is probably lost somewhere.

        • Ryan -  November 20, 2016 - 1:40 pm

          UM…… WHAT?

          • Ryan -  November 20, 2016 - 1:44 pm


    • j -  April 27, 2016 - 8:47 pm

      The November one is not used incorrectly, though the other false examples are

      • KaB -  November 23, 2016 - 10:02 am

        incorrect. see below.

  13. Lynn -  April 4, 2016 - 2:46 am

    it is ironic that the author wrote an article on the meaning of the word but the examples s/he gave are wrong.

    • Hi -  October 12, 2016 - 4:25 pm


    • benched -  November 6, 2016 - 7:56 pm

      You and the author above are correct and in agreement.

    • KaB -  November 23, 2016 - 10:01 am

      The article states the examples are wrong usage, until the fifth paragraph. If you are sick as a dog and say, humorously say “I feel fabulous,” That is ironic. Same for, “This November weather is really chilling me” on Friday when it was 70 degrees.

      To simply state this weather is warm for November, is an accurate comment of opinion, not a statement of irony.

  14. Frank -  February 2, 2016 - 12:44 pm

    I think irony is the unexpected twist in expectations, like the O’Henry story “The Gift of the Magi.” I think all of the other definitions you give are bastardizations of the real meaning. I do not accept the statement of an opposite as being ironic. It is something that has evolved and is apparently now accepted, but is not ironic.

    • Pete -  March 17, 2016 - 3:45 am

      Thank you – you are absolutely right. I’m astounded that the person who wrote this article doesn’t actually understand the true meaning of the word.

    • Chuck -  August 2, 2016 - 1:26 am

      You describe appropriate use of the word irony very well. Another word I
      find to be misused is ‘narrative’, sometimes individuals will use it twice in a short sentence, both times inappropriately. It is regurgitated by those
      who hear the word, don’t even know the definition, but use it to make others think they are intelligent.

    • Heather -  October 10, 2016 - 1:59 pm

      I think you are referring to “situational irony,” but it is no less legitimate to say that irony indicates that the actual situation is the opposite of what is being said. For example, a character in a book could say “you are such a nice man” to someone who is, perhaps unbeknown to the speaker, really a murderer. (My 7th grade literature teacher drilled this literary device into our heads a thousand times, along with foreshadowing, and poetic justice, and bildungsroman, and…)

      • Nico -  December 4, 2016 - 11:55 am

        You do mean (unbeknownst) right ^^^

  15. Richard Brannan -  November 14, 2015 - 9:39 am

    NO….. IT IS ISSUE!

  16. Tim McCauley -  September 29, 2015 - 11:23 am

    The most overused? No, it’s a close second to “literally”.

    • Mark -  October 3, 2015 - 1:37 pm

      So if I understand you correctly,irony stands steadfastly different from facetious and sarcasm?

    • Angela Perez -  November 9, 2015 - 2:38 pm

      your right also the word no

    • Brian Williams -  November 11, 2015 - 6:00 am

      This is literally the most ironic thing I’ve ever read.

      • Me -  January 29, 2016 - 2:50 pm

        How ironic!

      • Andrea -  March 30, 2016 - 6:47 am

        Hahaha that’s wicked ironic!!!!

    • Bob -  February 4, 2016 - 10:38 pm

      it says most abused, abused and overused are two different things, the only thing that can give ironic a competition in the most abused category is sarcasm because stupid people verbally assault others and try to pass it off as sarcasm and that is not how sarcasm works.

    • Emily Morales -  March 14, 2016 - 3:11 pm


    • Barry Fisk -  May 25, 2016 - 10:23 am

      You “literally” have taken the word from my mouth . Ha !

      • Nico -  December 4, 2016 - 11:57 am

        One cannot have a word literally taken out of ones mouth..

    • Ketchup -  October 16, 2016 - 6:39 pm

      Sorry, but, um, it’s, um, “um”

  17. Jeffrey L. Frischkorn -  September 24, 2015 - 8:21 pm

    It got to the point in my journalistic career that I fled from ever using “irony” and all of its step children… Yes, it’s misused and misunderstood.. I get that, but I just hated to see users of that word get thumped by an editor with nothing better to do than to point out a reporter’s misplaced grammar when – bluntly – the reading public really didn’t give a hoot.

    • Romeg -  October 15, 2015 - 10:38 am

      Someone has to be a watchdog for the preservation of the language which will, over time, evolve anyway. But there’s no need to permit or hasten its decline and there’s every reason to preserve as much of it as possible for as long as possible. Which leads me to wonder: If you’re so ambivalent, why would you bother to read the piece or comment on it?

      • bob -  October 31, 2016 - 1:13 pm

        Language is constantly evolving. Changing is not inherently bad, and many of the words we use today used to have different or contradictory meanings!

        • Nico -  December 4, 2016 - 12:00 pm

          I wouldn’t say evolving at all… it’s decling … when people use double negatives all the time … etc.. and don’t know meanings of words .. it’s sad ..

      • KaB -  November 23, 2016 - 1:01 pm

        I wonder. Ambivalence does not equal apathy. I think being of two minds might actually cause a person to want to become part of the conversation, to help with the ongoing development of understanding. That’s how it works for some a-ha moments for people.

        Having always looked at the dictionary as a place where structure is created, here, I learn that the dictionary is more of a reporter of existing structure.

        I like just everyone having this discussion. Everything grows.

    • harry brantley -  October 16, 2015 - 8:45 am

      Would it be correct to say that the editors who “thump” writers who misuse
      a word like “ironic” are being pedantic ?

      • Heidi -  November 12, 2015 - 3:01 pm

        Being pedantic is their job. Thank goodness editors exist, otherwise writers like Jeffrey L. Frischkorn would have received the respect that they actually deserved.

        • PETER -  January 7, 2016 - 10:36 pm

          Now that’s sarcasm

    • Me -  January 29, 2016 - 2:53 pm

      How insulting to your readers – surely as a reporter the use of the English language is your most powerful tool

    • Will -  February 27, 2016 - 1:51 pm

      I remember a time before the internet when grammar arguments were settled by calling the editor of a local newspaper. Too bad that my local news organizations have given up on grammar. Our papers are largely unreadable.

      • KaB -  November 23, 2016 - 1:05 pm

        Perhaps the paper hopes to cater to a new generation of readers, so they can not die out with the grammarists.

    • Neil Feltham -  October 12, 2016 - 7:22 am

      I would be interested to know how you knew that readers did not care. I would, however, find an editor’s grammatical corrections hard to take if he were no better educated than perhaps some, but not all, of the other contributors.

  18. Theodore -  August 30, 2015 - 8:43 pm

    Wow what a long discussion.

    Words are what they are, clusters of random sounds that take on recognition as unique sounds of a language and then string together to form a linear group of sounds, a lexeme what native speakers identify as a word. Anyways, languages struggle and strain and meanings are changed, happily or sadly. Common use of ironic is used to connote “incredulous”. Though “mocking, attitude, respect, nonbelieving, doubtful, sarcastic” are closer to what various erudite commentators are subscribing.

    From this site, word origin, “Greek eirōnikós dissembling, insincere”

    Perhaps now what people are trying to mean by the most common use of ironic is it is “the opposite of what would be expected”, referring more to an anticipation than a meaning. It was ironic that an idiot was made Dean of the University is what might be the “real” meaning of ironic, but if common usage prevails it was ironic I won the lottery will probably continue to be used. We see both in use.

    In “Hinglish”, which is now considered as an official form of English, we compliment someone as making us feel very homely. But in American English, that would not be a tasteful comment to offer.

    Culture defines the meaning. Sad but true.

    • sam -  September 4, 2015 - 7:03 pm

      Love is abused

      • ariry -  October 17, 2016 - 7:40 am

        are you okay? :(

    • sam -  September 4, 2015 - 7:08 pm

      No. Ironically it is probably one of the only words that really means what it is.
      To be ironically ironic

    • Henry -  September 7, 2015 - 7:50 am

      Language evolves whether we like it or not, but mostly for the better. When language evolves over time, through a complex series of cultural assimilations, words or expressions can take on a new or enhanced meaning. It does us and our language no favors for someone to blatantly misuse a word when trying to express a thought or convey meaning. We don’t want to say “illusion” when we mean “allusion”. However when a word gradually, typically over a long period of time, is imbued with subtle shades of meaning that go beyond what its generally accepted definition has been, I think we can look upon this as a positive enhancement to our language.

      There’s a big difference between that and blatantly using the wrong word to express what it is we are trying to say. As another poster eloquently explained there is often that perfect word we search for that perfectly conveys what we want to say. Sometimes that word escapes us for the moment and then comes to us after some mental gymnastics, like finally wrenching a bad tooth free. Sometimes we can’t seem to yank it from our brain to get it to our tongue and end up having to settle for a lesser word. Or hours later we’ll be thinking of something else and that perfect word we were looking for will come to us.

      When a word’s meaning alters language for the better is often when it has gone through the culture’s communication transformation machine. People may hear it used in the media for instance; the media who tend to use it for their own purposes. Then the people will themselves use it on the “street”. An event may occur in the daily life of the culture such that a particular word is thrown around between people to describe that event, and in that discourse because of the particular nature of the event it may well change the meaning of the word, perhaps almost imperceptibly. From there that word may be commandeered by a different segment of society, harmlessly hijacked by a whole different social group altogether.

      Juxtaposed to one another each tribal group within our much larger culture takes the word for their own purposes and adds their own special nuance of meaning to it, subconsciously often, yet often quite purposefully to satisfy their communicative needs or desires. These demographic forces all working their singular and collective magic on the word; adding to it or taking from it meaning that only that group, clan, gang, organization, company, special interest group, family, youth group, or individual can based upon their own unique experience, makeup, and communication skills. When a word goes through the wringer of the communication culture like that over time, and ends up, as if through some kind of evolutionary mitosis, coming through the other side changed, it’s a transformation that happens unbeknownst to us.

      A bunch of mutations set off by the various elements of our mixed up culture all playing together. And that encompasses not only the English language and its variations, but also other languages wherein those speakers may adopt words for their own use. This process is good because it’s organic and it’s been assimilated from the combined forces of the languages of the tribes we’ve create. Where it’s bad is when, as in the obscure yet lauded film Dogtooth, we shut ourselves off from learning the true meaning of words. In that story the children of a family are cut off from the outside world and taught the wrong meanings words and things such that a salt shaker is known as a telephone and cats are deadly creatures.

      • Judith Anthony -  September 11, 2015 - 2:27 pm

        Well written, and I happen to agree with you. It’s my observation people’s position on word evolution is whether or not the like the evolved definition or just how or how often, it’s used.

      • Jeff -  October 5, 2015 - 12:37 pm


        • Mary miller -  January 15, 2016 - 3:23 pm

          Because people live in an angry uncontrollable world, some of us try to control small things to find a semblance of order from out of chaos. I like to hear opinions but hate it when it leads to superiority attitudes about people who are trying to communicate with a flair of creativity. Nothing like an obnoxious “corrector” to throw cold water on a lively discussion. Ironically, the corrector turns out looking ignorant.

          • H.L. Mencken -  September 21, 2016 - 3:53 pm

            You just sound crazy. I wish i could correct you.

      • Me -  January 29, 2016 - 3:01 pm

        Wow you’ve really though about this – take a breath and watch the sunset – enjoy it :)

      • TC -  October 7, 2016 - 4:30 am

        Such a use of big words for the defense of language being changed to meaning something new. I commend you.

    • H.L. Mencken -  September 21, 2016 - 3:51 pm

      Language defines the culture, actually, language is meaning, therefore meaning defines the culture. You seemed intelligent, but, ironically, you are wrong.

  19. Alice Wonderland -  August 5, 2015 - 2:40 am

    ICONIC Hands down.

  20. fodaH -  June 20, 2015 - 6:04 pm

    Your reading comprehension is unbelievably good. Get it? xD!

  21. piercesto -  April 15, 2015 - 2:38 am

    Socratic Irony is making people believe you are ignorant, when having a discussion; Irony is proving them right!

    • JB -  July 31, 2015 - 11:57 pm


  22. passerby -  March 22, 2015 - 1:53 am

    It’s ironic that the author of this article is unable to give a good example of irony.

    • Minecraft on Mars! -  March 23, 2015 - 2:53 pm

      What’s with the typewriter with the cntr-alt-del? At the top.

      • ErYkah. -  January 14, 2016 - 1:07 pm


    • James -  April 12, 2015 - 6:55 am

      *facepalm* smh…
      Read again:

      “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”.

      Its ironic that you read the article on irony and still didn’t learn what it is.

      • gregorific -  June 3, 2015 - 3:04 pm

        *facepalm* smh…
        Read again:
        “It’s ironic that the author of this article is unable to give a *good* example of irony.”

        (emphasis mine)

        It’s ironic that because you yourself didn’t read carefully, you accused passerby of not reading carefully.


        • Mark Johnson -  June 4, 2015 - 8:38 am

          What’s vastly amusing about your comment and many others is that you don’t understand that the author of this piece is defining irony correctly as it originally was defined. Irony originally meant simply saying the opposite of what you meant, such as saying “Man its chilly today” on a very hot day. Or saying a after eating a delicious meal “Boy that was nasty tasting!”.

          Over time it has come to be used in a similar but subtly different way which is how most people use it much to the annoyance of purists. For instance “Its ironic that Anthony Weiner once taught Sunday School”. or “Its ironic that people are blaming Joe for something Frank did”.

          That being said, the meaning even more recently has gotten stretched beyond all reasonable bounds to mean just about anything.

        • Taby -  June 5, 2015 - 9:27 am

          LOL, I knew that was what you were doing…kinda mean though.

    • r -  May 7, 2015 - 6:17 pm

      so true passerby lol

    • April -  October 22, 2015 - 2:26 pm

      Hahaha!! That’s a good one!!!

  23. Steven -  March 15, 2015 - 4:21 pm

    The examples given in the article are more sarcastic than ironic…

    This is irony:
    Steven hated homework when he was little. Ironically, he became a teacher and worked at a local Elementary when he grew up.

    If your going to make an article on irony, at least give out correct examples.

    • Bant -  March 22, 2015 - 12:24 pm

      Saying “that’s ironical” is ironic

    • Linda -  March 23, 2015 - 6:17 am

      However; the article did start an informative dialogue.

    • Mike -  July 10, 2015 - 11:54 am

      If YOU’RE going to criticise others on their English usage, at least make sure yours is correct.

      • Ralph Livingston -  August 31, 2015 - 4:49 pm

        That’s the the rub isn’t it?

    • garreth -  August 17, 2015 - 4:54 pm

      This is irony:
      Steven hated homework when he was little. Ironically, he became a teacher and worked at a local Elementary when he grew up.

      This is also what I thought it meant.

    • Leslie -  September 13, 2015 - 4:35 pm

      I’d say Irony is just the neutral form of sarcasm. The intent is to point out silly oddities for amusement, at no one’s expense. Which would cover the OP’s examples, kind of. The examples given would only work if the expected outcome to a cloudy day isn’t “great weather” (I prefer rain to sunshine). A better example would be using a fire blanket, which is supposed to extinguish fires, to start a fire.

      Sarcasm is like irony, except it’s done with intent to hurt/embarrass someone. Similar to being derisive or a bully to someone, making a joke at their expense, where they feel upset rather than amused.

      Sardony/Sardonicism is similar to sarcasm, without as much emphasis on causing distress. Kind of like mocking or teasing someone, not meant to hurt, but to make light of a situation through gentle ribbing, where everyone can laugh.

    • Diana Cooper -  November 16, 2015 - 8:39 am

      If you’re going to make a comment on irony, at least learn how to spell you’re.

      • ErYkah. -  January 14, 2016 - 1:14 pm

        Nice catch, I would’ve passed that up lol.

      • Bernadette -  August 7, 2016 - 4:40 pm

        Ok. I have a question to ask u guyz or galz? I had some one say to me this statement. Isnt it ironic that the only person who doesnt watch them is commenting??! So did they say it correctly?

  24. Dot -  November 15, 2014 - 12:24 am

    Omfg the writers example of irony IS ALSO INCORRECT!!!! Those were statements of SARCASM, not bloody irony! The irony in that is that they are trying to explain irony, and don’t even know what it means themselves!! Idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Robin -  January 20, 2015 - 6:18 am

      So is it ironic, that for 8 years I organized, ran and got sponsors for the Four States Friends of NRA local banquet and I didn’t even own a gun for the first 6 years?

    • Owen -  March 13, 2015 - 12:34 pm

      Beat me to the punch. This isn’t what irony means at all. It’s like they were trying to define “facetious”. Lexicon vs dictionary, I guess. I mean the word “literally” is so improperly used that they finally changed the meaning of it in the dictionary to also mean “figuratively”, which is equal and opposite of literally. Like I always tell people “Literally literally means literally.” Our language is so informal…

      • James -  March 25, 2015 - 5:06 am

        If it weren’t for this “informality” of language we wouldn’t have the vast selection of words to use. Language morphs over time and I’m sure glad it does, else we’d be stuck using caveman terminology

        • Kassie Thompson -  September 4, 2015 - 5:57 am

          Lol ur so right about the hole language thing like without are language today or with the little sayings we have I would go crazy I mean Cray Cray having to live with just like old fashioned way people talk not to say there’s anything wrong with r old people n the way they conversant now!!! All am saying I love the freaking American language n just to think there’s so many other words out there I could use or people n general could use!!! Instead of the same old words I use or we use N yes my vocabulary is kinda limited LMFAO. . . My Hands Downown All Time Favourite Book Is The Dictionary!!!!!

          • paul milliss -  September 15, 2015 - 8:44 pm

            respect has to be the most misused word in history.even more than truly.

      • Jhenrhi Ida -  August 31, 2015 - 7:51 am

        I’ve always, personally, called American English a “bastardized” language. Because of America being a melting pot of cultures and different languages English speaking people have taken words from other languages and mixed it with English (like saying “Dude, you’re loco”) in order to communicate a particular idea.

        I have to agree with you when you say that our language is very informal. It very much is. It’s a very lackadaisical way of communicating, but on the flip side it’s very unique and fun to use.

    • Minecraft on Mars! -  March 23, 2015 - 2:51 pm

      Idiots, smidiots. I like ironic the way it is. It’s, well, umm, uh, nice? Anyway, I got Minecraft to play. Catch y’all later!

    • Angelina -  April 23, 2015 - 5:46 pm

      Calm….deep breaths…

      Verbal irony vs. situational irony….

      Different things….

  25. theend3r -  November 5, 2014 - 11:46 am

    “Pathetic” is also horribly misused. It means emotional or passionate but even dictionaries get it wrong.

    • Andy -  February 11, 2015 - 3:45 am

      A good dictionary is usually considered an authority, so if you think a dictionary is wrong, then it’s most likely that you have your own definition of the word.

      • Linda -  March 23, 2015 - 6:14 am


    • Marie -  March 16, 2015 - 8:29 am

      I think you’re wrong with that, I think the meaning of pathetic is showing vulnerability and pitiful.

    • Claire Bush -  May 4, 2015 - 7:27 am

      Pathetic comes from the ancient Greek ‘Pathos’ which meant then and now “a quality that evokes pity or sadness.” In other languages with which I am familiar, it has the meaning of passion and likability. That’s why I get sympathy cards from my foreign language students who mean to tell me that they really like me. It may happen that this meaning will enter into English but so far, I haven’t seen it happening in the general population.

    • Henry -  September 7, 2015 - 5:51 am

      Maybe the reason you think “pathetic” is “horribly” misused is because it does not mean what you say. “Pathetic” does not mean emotional or passionate. It’s an adjective that means to arouse pity typically through vulnerability or sadness.

  26. __chlochlo_ -  October 6, 2014 - 3:51 pm

    I think “like” is the most abused word. EVER.

    • thirupathi -  March 13, 2015 - 2:16 am

      Do you think you are a Diligent person? Give at least one of two examples of your disciplined nature in the organisation while performing duty and task

  27. B -  July 4, 2014 - 9:17 am

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

    • A -  July 19, 2014 - 12:34 am

      Did you even read the article?

    • 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…

      • Kate -  December 4, 2014 - 11:00 am

        OH THANK YOU!!! I was worried there for a minute that NO ONE actually knew how to use the word.

        Irony is so rare that when I actually experience it, I get giddy!

        Thanks for posting that comment!

        • PinkMango -  December 10, 2014 - 7:49 pm

          You made me laugh — your reply sounded like my English teacher mom!

      • PinkMango -  December 10, 2014 - 7:48 pm


      • Mary Jane Barnhardt -  March 22, 2015 - 3:45 pm

        I agree with Matt Wilkes’ assessment.

        The Article regarding the definition/usage of Irony, was itself, inaccurate. Now That is Ironic!

        A second example of irony: The scheduled meeting on global warming was cancelled due to Icy and snowy weather conditions.

        A third example of irony: Astronaut John Glenn toured the Heaven’s unscathed, but slipped and fell in his own bathtub and received a concussion.

    • 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”.

      • Minecraft on Mars! -  March 23, 2015 - 2:56 pm

        Well I think that pizza is the most abused English word.

    • 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.

      • Martha PHONY -  September 17, 2014 - 4:19 pm

        Carole – I’ll meet you as we register at the mental institution. I’m guessing this insane use is driving you as nuts as it is me. And, it’s always delivered with a sort of haughty, pretentious flip of the hair or shake of the head, as if to say, “I’m so clever and such a clear member of the in crowd.” Does anyone understand that dialogue around something would be dialogue that never actually addressed that elusive thing in the middle around which the dialogue swirls??? PHONY FOLKS!

        • Mike -  July 11, 2015 - 11:55 pm

          Let me talk to that.

    • April -  October 22, 2015 - 2:31 pm

      No that’s just messed up.

  28. xaviera -  April 29, 2014 - 8:37 am

    the examples given were more sarcastic than ironic.

  29. 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. :)

    • 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.

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

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

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

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

      • Ryan -  November 2, 2014 - 7:41 pm

        Or it could be irony as in dramatic irony.
        “It figures”.

      • Mary -  December 9, 2014 - 1:37 am

        I remember Ed Byrne (comedian) saying that in his stand up show back in the 90′s. Credit where credits due.

        • Mike -  July 11, 2015 - 11:58 pm

          Yes. Jon is clearly familiar with Ed Byrne’s work. Is it ironic that he didn’t credit Ed for using his material about the word ironic?

  30. 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

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

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

    • Mike -  July 12, 2015 - 12:00 am


  31. 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.”

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • Ryan -  November 2, 2014 - 7:44 pm

          Who exactly do you mean by “they”?

          • Ashley -  November 30, 2014 - 11:35 pm

            EXACTLY! It’s likely the “they” in question was straight dudes. I think it was only recently that ‘fags’ took the word from homophobes… wait… Matt…maybe this makes your post the most ironic of all?

        • brian c. -  March 29, 2015 - 2:51 pm

          the reason gay and queer were redefined was because they were used as terms of abuse so to undermine their effectiveness they became redefined. If you are confused by definitions of a single word look at it in context and apply a little nous.

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


    • 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.

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

        Perfect examples.

      • bob -  January 4, 2015 - 6:25 pm

        Or a fire fighter was at home and his house flooded and he died. Because you know, they save others with water, but they died from it. ;D

  32. 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.

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

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

  34. 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.

    • 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.

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

      Richard, was you too busy to give some examples?

    • 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…

      • Martha -  September 17, 2014 - 4:23 pm

        Never mind “were”… What the heck happened to the various forms of the verb “to be.” Almost never used in newscasts.

  35. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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?”

      • S -  January 23, 2015 - 9:51 pm

        Unless they are using it ironically, because they clearly have not died.

        • Monkedelic -  April 17, 2015 - 2:36 pm

          That’s not irony.

    • 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

      • 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”.

        • 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?

        • 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.

        • Michael -  October 6, 2015 - 2:30 pm

          People are increasingly replacing “said” with “was like” because of a growing, generational aversion to making declarative statements about a subject, likely because of the inherent commitment in doing so.

      • Symphonogasm -  November 12, 2014 - 2:28 am

        You mean his “like literally” dying ?
        ….. Lmao I love this blog it’s like so literally and ironically absolutely hilarious!

    • Priyanka -  October 29, 2014 - 10:47 pm

      Then there is ‘like totally’…who uses that ???
      As if, totally, like, awesome, literally, no way, yes way (??), epic, and ironic.

      These are just some of the words which really irritate me!

      Especially when people look you straight in the eye and make sentences using them in the Wrong context and don’t think anything of it.

    • Ariana -  October 14, 2015 - 11:47 pm

      You need to go to the San Fernando valley and hear the purists. It’s like soooo crazy thaar, i just have to like turn away and like,burst out laughing y’u know,like it’s rally rally a blast.

  36. 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.

    • j.w. -  October 14, 2015 - 10:55 am

      Yes, Walt. I agree with your thoughts on this. And I think that maybe the overuse and misuse of “like” began here. When trying to come up with “le mot just” we would say “like…” and shortly afterward it was shortened and so often repeated that it became the stand-in for the word we were looking for in the first place.

    • Ariana -  October 15, 2015 - 12:07 am

      I have a horrible feeling that nobody gets the others message because they are too busy being word nazis,spelling nazis and control nazis

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

    Literally is used improperly way to much…literally!

    • 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”.

  38. 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?”

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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”.

  42. 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.

  43. 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”.

  44. 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)

  45. 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!

  46. Quinstar -  March 24, 2014 - 7:03 am

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

    • Starlite27455@yahoo.com -  October 11, 2016 - 8:12 pm

      It’s ironic that we share the same name

  47. 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”.

  48. 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. . . !

  49. 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!

  50. 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!

    • Monkedelic -  April 17, 2015 - 3:01 pm

      I think it’s more an issue of pronunciation than misuse. A lot of people (often myself included) pronounce “our” in speech the same or indistinguishably similar to “are”. But I would never write this sentence (outside of this example):

      We’re all meeting back at are house afterwards.

    • John -  September 8, 2015 - 6:51 am

      Late comment but kind of relevant: I also often see ‘of’ used instead of ‘have’.
      “That should of been done.” “He would of liked it.”
      For me that’s like literally the worst thing ever!

      • j.w. -  October 14, 2015 - 11:03 am

        Well put.

      • Tina -  October 16, 2016 - 10:00 pm

        I’d call your examples more of an editorial failure. “That should of been done.” would properly be *written* as “That should’ve been done.”, which uses a correct contraction of “should have”. In speech, the ” ‘ve ” sounds very, very close to “of”. I tend to be more tolerant of sloppy speech than sloppy writing – with the exception of my own pet peeve in speech: “nuclear” mispronounced as “nucular”. That just drives me up a wall, especially when I hear it from somebody who is supposedly well-educated.

  51. 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.”

  52. 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’.

  53. 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”?

    • j.w. -  October 14, 2015 - 11:13 am

      Thank you, Mel.
      The use of “unique” to mean “unusual” is, to me, just wrong. As is the use of “literally” to mean “figuratively.”
      That it’s happening cannot be denied, but I dislike it intensely. If a word’s unique meaning is smeared to converge with other words then the precision and beauty of the language is lost.

  54. 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).

  55. 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.

  56. 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 ????”

    • Andy -  February 11, 2015 - 4:08 am

      actually it’s often now considered to be a mass noun with ‘the relevant data’ being able to act as a singular entity.

  57. 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.

  58. 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!

    • Andy -  February 11, 2015 - 3:58 am

      Since you’ve been driven ‘insane’, you no longer have the ability to reason correctly – so we cannot take any notice of what you say anymore.

      Surely your misuse of insane is as wrong as the ‘genius’ misuse.

    • Kit Snicket -  March 23, 2015 - 8:17 pm

      Ahem. I believe the word you mean is ‘ingenious’, which has an O.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.)

  62. 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.

  63. Ralph -  February 27, 2014 - 11:04 am

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

  64. bossrat -  February 27, 2014 - 7:10 am

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

  65. 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.

    • Pseudo Arch -  August 6, 2015 - 10:09 pm

      A definition is an attempted explanation of use, not a declaration of truth.
      Little mouth noises and scribbles have no inherent linguistic meaning; there is no such thing as redefinition

  66. 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.

    • Real Live Human -  April 22, 2015 - 4:19 pm

      Decimate… a word I try to avoid at all costs. It’s changed too much- it used to mean ‘reduce by a tenth,’ and now it means ‘obliterate.’ Saddening indeed.

      • Mary Anne -  August 10, 2015 - 5:55 pm

        Yes, I agree with you about “decimate.” Sometime during the VietNam war, I remember my dad telling me the definition and dismissing the TV reporters for using the word incorrectly.

  67. 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’.

  68. 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!

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

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  76. 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.”

  77. 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.

  78. Angalyssa -  October 15, 2013 - 9:17 am

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

    • Pseudo Arch -  August 6, 2015 - 10:15 pm

      Can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic…

  79. 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.

  80. Angalyssa -  October 11, 2013 - 9:48 am

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

  81. Angalyssa -  October 11, 2013 - 9:46 am


    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

  82. fallwolf280 -  October 9, 2013 - 6:27 pm

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

  83. 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.

  84. stalkergirl -  October 9, 2013 - 6:14 pm


  85. Anjela -  October 9, 2013 - 9:40 am

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

    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}}}

    • Pseudo Arch -  August 6, 2015 - 10:19 pm

      Know exactly how you’re ignorant isn’t exactly obvious.
      People aren’t purposely announcing themselves as idiots.

  86. 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.”

  87. Angalyssa -  October 7, 2013 - 9:12 am

    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

  88. jimmy -  October 2, 2013 - 2:19 pm


    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

    • Pseudo Arch -  August 6, 2015 - 10:20 pm

      Believing that your audience can’t possibly be ignorant is ridiculous.

  89. 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.

  90. Robert -  October 1, 2013 - 12:21 am

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

  91. 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.

  92. 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!

  93. 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!”

  94. Angalyssa -  September 25, 2013 - 9:39 am

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

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

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

  96. 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!

    • j.w. -  October 14, 2015 - 11:37 am

      Astonishingly true! And that was a couple of years ago.

  97. 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.

  98. 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.

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

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

  100. AWKWARD -  September 6, 2013 - 11:07 am

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

  101. 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!

  102. 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.

  103. 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.

    • Kit Snicket -  March 23, 2015 - 8:25 pm

      That seems to be correct, and rather amusing actually.

  104. 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?

  105. 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!

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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?

  109. 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

  110. havoc -  July 23, 2013 - 8:29 am

    I think bender says it best
    “The use of words defining something other than their literally intention, now THAT is irony.” (that being the irony of irony being misused.)

  111. 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.

  112. 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.

  113. 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.

  114. 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.

  115. 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.”

  116. 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. [...]

  117. 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.

    • 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

  118. 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!

  119. 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!)

    • Kit Snicket -  March 23, 2015 - 8:29 pm

      You have explained it very well. I find Situational Irony to be the most amusing of the three.

  120. 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.

  121. 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

  122. Miranda -  June 11, 2013 - 10:18 am

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

  123. 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.

  124. habibi -  June 11, 2013 - 9:18 am

    Where does SARDONIC fit into this?

  125. 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.

  126. 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.

  127. 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.

  128. 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.

  129. 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.

  130. 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.

  131. 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”.

  132. 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.

  133. 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.

  134. 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!”

  135. 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.

  136. 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.

  137. 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!

  138. 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.

  139. 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.

  140. 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!

  141. 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.

  142. 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).

    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!

  143. Joe -  May 20, 2013 - 12:35 pm

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

  144. 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!

  145. 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.”

  146. 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 ! ! !

  147. 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.

  148. 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!

  149. 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

  150. Raudy -  May 3, 2013 - 4:39 pm

    For me, another abused word is “legit”

  151. -_- -  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

    “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.”

  152. -_- -  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.

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

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

  154. 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.

  155. 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!!

  156. 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.

  157. 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.

  158. 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.

  159. 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?!

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  161. 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.

  162. 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!

  163. 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!

  164. Volition -  March 22, 2013 - 6:13 pm

    I LITERALLY hear Joe Biden abuse a word too much.

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

    I like Susan’s submission of “amazing.”

  166. 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…”

  167. 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………..

  168. 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.

  169. 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.

  170. 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”.

  171. Anonymous -  February 25, 2013 - 2:50 am

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

  172. 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! :)

  173. 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.

  174. 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.

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

    I feel that the word actualy is overused.

  176. 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.

  177. Saggy -  February 3, 2013 - 8:48 pm

    Irony: A ship crashing into a lighthouse.

  178. 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.

  179. 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).

  180. 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.

  181. 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.”

  182. Kincaid -  December 19, 2012 - 12:16 pm

    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.

  183. 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. <.<

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

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

  184. Melissa -  December 14, 2012 - 9:07 am

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

  185. sheen -  December 7, 2012 - 3:30 am

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

  186. 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.

  187. 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.

  188. 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!

  189. ADRIAN -  November 15, 2012 - 10:38 am

    that was wied to me to

  190. 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.

  191. zaynab -  November 10, 2012 - 8:50 am

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

  192. 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!

  193. 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?

  194. 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.

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

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

  196. 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.

  197. 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.

  198. 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.



  199. 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.

  200. 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!

  201. 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.”

  202. MissF -  September 19, 2012 - 2:22 am

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

  203. 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.

  204. 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.

  205. 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.

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  207. 2hawks -  September 7, 2012 - 10:29 am

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

  208. 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)

  209. 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?!?!?!

  210. Greg -  September 6, 2012 - 1:15 pm

    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?

  211. 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.

  212. 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?

  213. 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. :)

  214. 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.

  215. 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’?
       [ahy-ron-ik] Show IPA
    containing or exemplifying irony: an ironic novel; an ironic remark.
    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.

  216. 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.

  217. 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?

  218. 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.

  219. 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.”

  220. 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. : )

  221. it -  July 31, 2012 - 3:47 pm

    the dictionary is what the populous makes of it

  222. 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.

  223. 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!

  224. 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 .

  225. 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?

  226. 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.”

  227. 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.

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  230. 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’.

  231. 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.

  232. 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.

  233. 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.!!

  234. 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.

  235. 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.

  236. 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.

  237. 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!

  238. 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.

  239. 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.

  240. 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.

  241. Jordan -  May 1, 2012 - 6:46 am

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

  242. 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.

  243. LK -  April 15, 2012 - 6:10 pm

    I agree also that Irony is the most abused word

  244. E -  April 13, 2012 - 9:42 am

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

  245. 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…

  246. 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.

  247. Zepha -  April 9, 2012 - 9:22 am


    1. EPIC

    2. IRONIC


    4. TOTALLY

    5. LIKE

  248. 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!

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

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

  250. 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!

  251. 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]
    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.

  252. 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.”

  253. 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.

  254. 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.

  255. 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.

  256. Homar -  March 23, 2012 - 5:39 pm

    Patrick 99/100 people dramatize statistics haha

  257. 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!!

  258. bo -  March 23, 2012 - 8:13 am

    that is so true jodie!!!!!

  259. 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?)

  260. 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.

  261. 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”.

  262. 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.

  263. galensdad -  March 19, 2012 - 9:06 am

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

  264. Jo -  March 16, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    Totally agree, Mike!

  265. 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.

  266. 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”?

  267. 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.

  268. 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 @#$@%!)

  269. 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.

  270. 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.

  271. 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.

  272. 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.


  273. 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.

  274. 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  275. 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.

  276. 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?

  277. Me -  March 14, 2012 - 6:13 am

    Interesting. your friend sarahandlacey!

  278. 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!

  279. 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

  280. 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)

  281. 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.

  282. 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”.

  283. 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.

  284. 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.

  285. 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

  286. 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”?

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  288. 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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  290. 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.

  291. Mike -  February 25, 2012 - 11:33 am

    im grate at speling!!!!

  292. 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

  293. 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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  295. 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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  297. 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?

  298. 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?


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  300. 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.

  301. 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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  304. 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??

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  306. 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.

  307. 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

  308. Irony -  January 30, 2012 - 4:58 am

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

  309. 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”.

  310. 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.

  311. 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.

  312. 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.

  313. Josh -  January 10, 2012 - 5:48 pm

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

  314. Vindu -  January 9, 2012 - 9:49 am

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

  315. 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

  316. 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.

  317. 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”.

  318. 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”.

  319. Nshera -  January 7, 2012 - 7:58 am

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

  320. 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!

  321. 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???

  322. 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

  323. 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.

  324. 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.

  325. 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.

  326. 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.

  327. Cyraus -  January 5, 2012 - 6:55 am

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

  328. 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.

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  330. 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.

  331. 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.

  332. 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! ^-^)

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

    Definition of ironic: Seemingly mocked by fate.

  334. 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.

  335. 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.

  336. 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

  337. 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.

  338. 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?

  339. 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….”

  340. 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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  343. 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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  346. 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

  347. 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..

  348. 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. ^^

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  350. anonimoues -  November 16, 2011 - 8:13 pm

    I always knew i was using it wrong, ironically…

  351. 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.

  352. 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!

  353. 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.

  354. 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….

  355. MikeHenrySC -  November 11, 2011 - 4:35 am

    Bring/Take Because/Since

  356. 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. >.<

  357. ironic man -  November 11, 2011 - 2:24 am


    ’nuff said. ;))

  358. 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…

  359. Sachiko -  November 10, 2011 - 10:49 pm

    It’s funny because one of the definitions for ironic written on this site is “coincidental, unexpected.”

  360. Taylor -  November 3, 2011 - 7:35 pm

    *abused and misused word

  361. 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.

  362. —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!

  363. 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.

  364. 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.

  365. 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.

  366. 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.

  367. Grammar Freak -  October 27, 2011 - 1:20 pm

    Ironic is no where near the most abused word in the English language, “ignorant” is.

  368. 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.

  369. 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! :)

  370. 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.

  371. Kathleen -  October 20, 2011 - 8:55 pm


  372. 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.

  373. Christian -  October 15, 2011 - 8:12 pm


  374. sjx -  October 14, 2011 - 8:00 pm

    at maureen from 2010,dont ask us the definition of awkward, ur on freakin dictionary.com! STUPID!!!!!!

  375. david -  October 14, 2011 - 9:58 am

    i’ll love to know dis words intrigue,melancholy,stern,vulnerable,steak,reluctant

  376. Robin -  October 11, 2011 - 4:15 pm

    A fire engine catching on fire is fairly ironic.

  377. janice d -  October 10, 2011 - 11:44 pm

    ironically, i do not think _ironic_ is *the* “most abused word in english”.

  378. 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.

  379. 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

  380. "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!

  381. 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.

  382. 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.

  383. 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.

  384. 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.

  385. Jordan -  October 5, 2011 - 9:54 am

    I think awesome and hysterical are abused too.

  386. 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.

  387. 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.

  388. 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.

  389. 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!

  390. 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.

  391. Mistral -  October 5, 2011 - 2:39 am

    Isn’t it ironic – that the most famous song in the world about irony misunderstood the concept?

  392. 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!!!”

  393. 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.”

  394. 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. :)

  395. Why do you care -  October 4, 2011 - 9:22 pm

    i don’t use the word ironic much.
    my friends does though.
    so does my Geo teacher.

  396. 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.

  397. 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.

  398. 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.

  399. 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.

  400. Richard -  October 4, 2011 - 6:58 pm

    New ways to use the word ironic, I think I like the wrong way better

  401. 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.

  402. 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!”

  403. 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

  404. 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.

  405. Smit Sharma -  October 4, 2011 - 9:37 am

    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 :)

  406. 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.

  407. 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.

  408. colin anthony -  October 4, 2011 - 8:03 am


  409. 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.


    ….It’s good to know that someone understands irony.


  410. 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.”

  411. 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!

  412. 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”

  413. 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.

  414. 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

  415. 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.

  416. 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.

  417. 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”.

  418. 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.

  419. Mikala -  September 23, 2011 - 2:20 am

    I think we are should be grateful**

  420. 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!

  421. 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.

  422. 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.


  423. Jack -  September 11, 2011 - 7:16 pm

    Also, happy grandparent’s day.

  424. 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?’

  425. 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!

  426. 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.

  427. 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.”

  428. 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!!!!!!!

  429. Candeeze -  September 9, 2011 - 10:25 am

    I spend far too much time giggling while I spellcheck these entries… LOL

  430. Phoebe -  September 5, 2011 - 9:09 pm

    ‘We don’t do that in Chaos!’

  431. 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.

  432. 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.

  433. Stephanie -  August 29, 2011 - 9:17 am

    most misused word- definitely “practically”

  434. 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!

  435. 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!

  436. 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.

  437. 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!

  438. tm -  August 24, 2011 - 3:13 pm

    wow, this post is so ironic! haha sorry couldn’t help it :P

  439. 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.

  440. Roy Dyer -  August 19, 2011 - 11:16 am

    I too have realized that I have been guilty of misusing the word ironic. Great post!

  441. 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…

  442. 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.

  443. 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.

  444. JaneL -  August 12, 2011 - 8:53 am

    How about Epic? “Epic fail” i hate that phrase!

  445. 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”.

  446. 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.

  447. 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.

  448. 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.”

  449. 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.

  450. Brian Williard -  July 29, 2011 - 7:41 am

    An oft abused word is “literally,” which people often say when they use hyperbole or idioms.

  451. 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.

  452. 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?

  453. Teivous -  July 20, 2011 - 12:46 am