Sarcasm is a form of irony. Sarcasm is a literary device which is often used in everyday conversations, especially disputes, debates and arguments.
Sarcasm is meant to insult someone’s knowledge, intelligence or perception of something. Sarcasm is saying something that you don’t really mean, or mean the opposite of. The context, the circumstances and the tone and manner in which the statement was made will sell out the fact that it was meant to be “sarcastic” or, in other words, that it was “sarcasm”.
Here are some real life scenarios in which sarcasm is used.
- Child brings home report card showing that she failed her exam. Mother responds: this is excellent! Keep playing more tennis and watching soap operas!
- Someone fails in an attempt to pull a clever stunt. Friend replies: you got any more bright ideas, Einstein?
So then, given the above parameters, we can define sarcasm as follows:
Any statement which is meant to lash out at someone or insult someone’s knowledge, performance, perception or intelligence, by using words which are not meant to be taken literally, or which are meant to convey an opposite meaning.
Here is a poem, by classic literary master Stephen Crane, which makes very good use of sarcasm.