Word: sardonic

Pronunciation: sahr-DAH-nik

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: grimly mocking or cynical

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


In this ever-growing world of cynicism and acerbic commentary, one can never know too many words for dark humor. I’m sure we all know someone whose sense of humor is somewhat bitter or sharp, so this week’s vocabulary entry is for those of you who need a word to define the behavior of those scornful jokers in your life and in your fiction. Enjoy!

A “sardonic” act is one that is cynical or mocking in a grim way. The word arose in the mid 17th century and comes from the French adjective sardonique, which in turn can be traced back to the Greek adjective sardónios, meaning “of Sardinia”. This adjective is an alteration of the adjective sardánios, a word Homer used to describe laughter as “bitter or scornful”.

There isn’t much I can say about the word “sardonic”, except that I definitely know a few people who fit the description. With all the witty people in my family, I’ve been on the receiving end of quite a few “sardonic” actions, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t at least considered doing some of them myself. Cynicism is a common part of life, and while I wouldn’t recommend pursuing it as a lifestyle, I will admit that it helps makes fiction interesting and relatable. If your characters tend to be cynical or bitter in their sense of humor, feel free to add some “sardonic” acts or comments to your stories! Have fun!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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