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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 05:35, 4 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained 6 xkcd comics, and only 2002 (33367%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

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Go to this comic explanation

Irony Definition
Can you stop glaring at me like that? It makes me feel really ironic.
Title text: Can you stop glaring at me like that? It makes me feel really ironic.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: It may or may not be complete - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

People often misuse the word ironic. It's possible that Black Hat may have just done so, and Cueball corrected him by explaining the correct definition of ironic. To this, Black Hat replies that it's ironic how despite Cueball knowing the definition of ironic, Black Hat is the one who is happy--again not using the word ironic according to its definition, since being happy wouldn't be the expected result of knowing the definition of a word. Incidentally, it is somewhat ironic that Cueball correcting Black Hat's behavior only resulted in Black Hat repeating the same behavior.

Irony is, to quote the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.” It is often invoked to add intrigue to an otherwise dull anecdote of scenario. Once again quoting Merriam-Webster:

“Considerable thought is given to what events constitute “true” irony, and the dictionary is often called upon to supply an answer. Here are the facts about how the word irony is used.

Irony has two formal uses that are not as common in general prose as its more casual uses. One refers to Socratic irony—a method of revealing an opponent’s ignorance by pretending to be ignorant yourself and asking probing questions. The other refers to dramatic irony or tragic irony—an incongruity between the situation in a drama and the words used by the characters that only the audience can see. Socratic irony is a tool used in debating; dramatic irony is what happens when the audience realizes that Romeo and Juliet’s plans will go awry.

The third, and debated, use of irony regards what’s called situational irony. Situational irony involves a striking reversal of what is expected or intended: a person sidesteps a pothole to avoid injury and in doing so steps into another pothole and injures themselves. Critics claim the word irony and ironic as they are generally used (as in, “Isn’t it ironic that you called just as I was planning to call you?”) can only apply to situational irony, and uses like the one above are more properly called coincidence. The historical record shows that irony and ironic have been used imprecisely for almost 100 years at least, and often to refer to coincidence. This 1939 quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald is typical: "It is an ironic thought that the last picture job I took—against my better judgment—yielded me five thousand dollars five hundred and cost over four thousand in medical attention." Is this true situational irony? It’s debatable.

The word irony has come to be applied to events that are merely curious or coincidental, and while some feel this is an incorrect use of the word, it is merely a new one.’

While the modern use of the word (that is, the one ostensibly used to refer to situational irony but instead used for mere coincidences) may have robbed irony of its rich historical and literary undertones, irony is not a relevant concept to everyday life save for commenting glibly on an ironic situation. Lilliputian quibbles over the correct use of the word help no one.

At long last, after years, Black Hat expresses an opinion healthy for society, quipping gleefully that it is ironic that Cueball may have the definition of irony memorized, but Black Hat is happier for not knowing it. In the title text, Cueball is evidently not happy with Black Hat, but the latter responds in a typically victorious fashion, using either the verbal sense of irony (i.e. sarcasm) or the aforementioned incorrect use, which only underscores his point.

Transcript

[Black Hat and Cueball are walking together, with Black Hat walking behind Cueball with his arms spread out. Cueball is visibly upset, as evidenced by the squiggle floating above his head and his balled up fists.]
Black Hat: It's ironic how you know the definition of irony, yet I'm the one in this conversation who's happy.


Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.

Rules

Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.