sarcastic means

Understanding sarcasm

Sarcasm is a way people communicate using words that are intended to express the opposite meaning of what they are saying. Mostly, sarcasm is used in a humorous way or for mocking others. This can be delivered based on the speaker’s tone of voice, facial expressions, or text. 

Sarcasm can be used for different motives, such as to express one’s frustration, to emphasize their point, or just to be simply funny. It is also used during social commentary and criticism, but sometimes, people use sarcasm to hurt other people’s feelings. 

Understanding sarcasm depends on the listener’s skills in recognizing the difference between the intended and literal meaning of the said phrases. However, people with autism or other social communication disorders have difficulty understanding sarcasm.  


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According to research, as early as age five, children begin to understand sarcasm. However, for some of them, it is still difficult to discern sarcasm. 

It’s crucial to remember that sarcasm, when not used appropriately, can be offensive to other people. People must be mindful of its impact on the receiver. Using sarcasm with care is the key to not offend others. 

Origins of sarcasm

Historical context

Historically, sarcasm has been used to express contempt, ridicule, or scorn. As stated by some scholars, sarcasm started in the Ancient Greek and Roman societies, who used it to mock political figures and social norms. The word “sarcasm” is derived from the Greek word “sarkazein,” which means “to tear flesh, bite the lip in rage, sneer”.

origin of sarcasm

During Medieval Europe, court jesters and troubadours often used sarcasm to criticize their ruler’s actions and to entertain the masses. In the period of Enlightenment, philosophers and writers made sarcasm more sophisticated and used it to critique the social and political order. Recently,  sarcasm has become a part of the 20th century and has been used by comedians, satirists, and social commentators to mock everything, including politics and popular culture. 


Sarcasm, as we know it today, is derived from the Greek word “sarkazein,” literally meaning “to tear flesh, bite the lip in rage, sneer”1. Meanwhile, its prefix “sarco” means “flesh in Greek and the suffix “-asm” is used to indicate a status or condition. With this, sarcasm explicitly means “the state of tearing flesh.”

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, in an annotation to The Shepheardes Calender by Edmund Spenser, the word “sarcasm” was first recorded in English in 1579. As time goes by, the word’s meaning changes as it is now a sense of verbal irony.

This concludes that sarcasm has a long and rich history from ancient Greece and Rome. It has developed and is now mostly used to criticize. The word “sarcasm” itself holds an interesting etymology that presents its emergence and roots in Greek society.

DIFFERENT Types of sarcasm

Sarcasm is a way people communicate by using irony, humor, or exaggeration to deliver a message that has the opposite meaning of what they are saying. Different types of sarcasm exist and are used in different ways. Written in this section are the common types of sarcasm. 


Self-deprecating sarcasm is a type of sarcasm where people make fun of themselves. This type of sarcasm is mostly used by people who want to show humility or to make a certain situation light. For example, if someone spills soy sauce on their shirt, they would say “Great, just what I needed, a soy sauce stain on my favorite shirt,” this shows self-deprecating sarcasm.


Brooding sarcasm is sarcasm used to convey anger or frustration. This is mostly used to mock a person or a thing. For example, if someone says, “Oh, sure, let’s just keep doing things the same way we’ve always done them, even though it’s clearly not working,” they use brooding sarcasm.


Deadpan sarcasm is a type of sarcasm that is hard to recognize as the way it is delivered is emotionless. This type of sarcasm happens when a person states something in a serious tone, but the meaning they want to convey is the exact opposite of what they said. For example, if someone says, “Oh, that’s just excellent,” after hearing unpleasant news, they use deadpan sarcasm.


Polite sarcasm is a type of sarcasm that people use to be polite not to offend someone. It usually happens when someone wants to tell other people that they are disagreeing about something but doesn’t want any confrontation to happen. For example, if someone says, “I’m sure your idea has credence, but I think we should consider other ideas as well,” they use polite sarcasm.

This concludes that sarcasm is a flexible way of communication and can be used in many ways. By understanding the different types of sarcasm, people can appreciate and use this form of communication in a better and witty way. 

Sarcasm in communication

Sarcasm is how people communicate by saying something while intending to convey the opposite meaning. Sarcasm can be used for humor, to mock, or to express feelings. 

Verbal sarcasm

Verbal sarcasm is the use of words to express a meaning that is opposite to what is said by the speaker. It is delivered by the tone of voice, facial expressions, or body language to emphasize the meaning they want to convey. Verbal sarcasm is so common that people use it almost in everyday conversations. For example, if someone says “Oh, great!” sarcastically to express their disappointment or frustration.

verbal sarcasm

Written sarcasm

Written sarcasm is the use of words in a written form like emails, texts, or social media posts. It is often written with quotation marks, in italic form, or with emojis.  For example, someone might write “Thanks a lot” with a rolling eye emoji to highlight a sarcastic tone.

While sarcasm is a powerful tool used to communicate, people can easily misinterpret this. It is crucial to use sarcasm with care and to be mindful of the tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language you use while talking. Sarcasm can be a great way to deliver humor or frustration, but it should be used correctly as it can offend others.

Psychology behind sarcasm

Sarcasm is a way of talking that uses irony, humor, or mocking to say something that is the opposite of what they state. While sarcasm can be used in a humorous way, it can also be used to express feelings. 

Cognitive processes

A certain level of cognitive processing is vital in the use of sarcasm, as the speaker must possess the ability to recognize the difference between spoken words and the actual intent. It also demands a quick and clever response, requiring a high level of verbal fluency and creativity.

Emotional aspects OF SARCASM

Sarcasm serves as a tool to convey various emotions like anger, frustration, and resentment or to conceal vulnerable feelings like sadness or fear. However, using sarcasm can also hurt and damage a relationship. 

According to research, most people who frequently use sarcasm may have hidden emotional issues like depression or anxiety. The use of sarcasm may be their defense mechanism to avoid conveying their true feelings. People who are always sarcastic have a tendency to be a passive-aggressive type as they lack the ability to express their feelings in the right way.

All in all, while sarcasm can be a great way to humor and communicate, it is vital to use it the right way while being mindful of other people’s feelings. 

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Impact of sarcasm

Sarcasm can have both positive and negative effects on the people inside the conversation. In this section, we will discuss the impact and effect of sarcasm. 

Positive effects

Sarcasm can be used to deliver humor and wit, which makes the conversation entertaining. This can also be used to make a tense situation lighter by using it the right way.

Sarcasm can also be used to show a person’s level of intelligence and creativity. Those who are great at using sarcasm usually impress other people with their cleverness. 

Negative effects of sarcasm

The use of sarcasm can also affect people negatively. Sarcasm can be used to insult and belittle others, which damages their self-esteem.

negative effect of sarcasm to a child

Sarcasm can also be used to hide passive-aggressive behavior. People who frequently use sarcasm may be having a hard time expressing their feelings, so they rely on using sarcasm to avoid the need to express their emotions. 

In some cases, sarcasm is misinterpreted, which leads to confusion and, worst, misunderstanding. This is complicated in professional settings since there should be clear communication in those scenarios. 

In general, even though sarcasm can help during conversation, remember to use it correctly and carefully to avoid offending others. 

Sarcasm in different cultures

Sarcasm is not internationally understood in a world with different cultures. The use of sarcasm may differ depending on one’s cultural background. While it is accepted in other cultures, some still find sarcasm rude and disrespectful. 

For example, in the United States, sarcasm is part of their humor and is generally accepted. However, in some Asian countries, sarcasm is not appropriate for them. In Japan, where people are used to direct verbal communication, they see sarcasm as a sign of insincerity and disrespect.

As with some Latin American cultures where sarcasm is mostly used, they see it as just a part of being witty, and in contrast, sarcasm can be a sign of insult in some Middle Eastern cultures, so it is highly offensive for them.

In addition, how a person interprets sarcasm may vary in terms of their culture. For instance, in some cultures, sarcasm can be easily used with their tone of voice and facial expressions, while in other cultures, they may need a deeper understanding of the context and the intention of the speaker.

In conclusion, how people use and interpret sarcasm depends on their culture, and it is vital for the speaker to understand these differences when talking with people from different cultures.

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What does sarcastic mean

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