AskDefine | Define sardonic

Dictionary Definition

sardonic adj : disdainfully or ironically humorous; scornful and mocking; "his rebellion is the bitter, sardonic laughter of all great satirists"- Frank Schoenberner; "a wry pleasure to be...reminded of all that one is missing"- Irwin Edman [syn: wry]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

French sardonique < sardonius < (sardonios), alternate form of (sardanios) "bitter or scornful laughter", which is often cited as deriving from the Sardinian plant (Ranunculus sardous), known as either (sardanē) or σαρδόνιον (sardonion). When eaten, it would cause the eater's face to contort in a look resembling scorn (generally followed by death). It might also be related to σαίρω (sairō) "I grin".

Pronunciation

  • italbrac RP /sɑːˈdɒnɪk/
  • italbrac US /sɑːˈdɑːnɪk/
  • Rhymes with: -ɒnɪk

Adjective

  1. Scornfully mocking or cynical.
    He distances himself from people with his nasty, sardonic laughter.
  2. Disdainfully or ironically humorous.

Related terms

Translations

scornfully mocking
ironically humorous

Extensive Definition

Sardonicism (connected with guffaw) characterizes —as distinct from Sarcasm— not a contumely or bitter, but a ferocious, painful derision.

Origin

The aborigines of Sardinia lang-la Sardoni would kill their elderly and laugh while doing this. This is called sardonic laughter, or the infamous "Risus sardonicus", a convulsive laughing, with which the soul is noninvolved. lang-it riso sardonico, .
It was already established in the Ancient Greece. They also differentiated between cynic (kynikós "to the world opinion of the cynics"), sardonic (sardánios "the scornful laughter of an angry person, with own pain or own damage") and sarcastic (sarkastikós "derision, hurtful speech"). So Odysseus —after he had at last returned— laughed sardonic to himself when he dodged a foot of a cow, which was thrown by a punter of his wife.
Occasionally, the convulsive laugh is traced back to a bitter Sardinian plant called "sardánion". The Meyers Encyclopedia from 1888 says Sardoniasm was a: convulsive, with heavy changing contortion of the face connected, laugh without an exterior cause. The word can be found also in Homer's Odyssee, 20, 302 and should be caused by a Sardinian cabbage (according to Virgil: Sardoa herba), which screws up one's mouth to a laugh. Who eats of it, its face screws up itself to an involuntarily grinning laugh. Also newer works refer the origin of the convulsive laugh to the plant Sardonia.

Ranunculus

The term sardonic (sardanios) "bitter or scornful laughter", which is often cited as deriving from the Sardinian plant (Ranunculus sardous), known as either (sardanē) or σαρδόνιον (sardonion). When eaten, it would cause the eater's face to contort in a look resembling scorn (generally followed by death). It might also be related to σαίρω (sairō) "I grin".

See also

External links

References

sardonic in German: Sardonismus

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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