If you’re on a picnic on a beautiful, warm, and sunny day and someone jokes, “This weather is just so terrible!” that’s ironic because obviously it’s a nice day. That person is kidding to make a point that it is actually wonderful weather. This is also sometimes called “sarcasm.”
If you ask for help with your math homework and someone teaches you how to spell, it would be ironic if you said, “Thanks. That’s so helpful.” It wasn’t really helpful. The person who tried to help you may or may not realize that you were being ironic. He or she might say “you’re welcome,” or they might even tell you to stop being fresh. Sometimes being ironic can be impolite. Make sure, if you use it, that it won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
A slightly different type of irony (something ironic) is dramatic irony, and it’s used a lot in plays, books, TV and movies. This is a situation where the audience knows something that a character doesn’t.
In Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, we know that the Queen has turned into the old woman and poisoned the apple, but Snow White does not. Because we know what’s really happening, it makes us nervous when we see Snow White take the apple. We may even want to yell to her and tell her to stop!
Dramatic irony is a great way to keep an audience interested, so it’s used a lot. The next time you watch a movie or read a book, see if you can spot any dramatic irony being used.