An incomplete list of things that are ironic

AUTHOR’S NOTE: My research for this article brought me to some dark places. “Synecdoche and metalepsis are considered specific types of metonymy. Polysemy, multiple meanings of a single word or phrase, sometimes results from relations of metonymy.” What have I done with my life?

AUTHOR’S NOTE 2: Using a picture of an iron for this post IS NOT ironic. But it is a pun.

My mother and I had this argument periodically. We’ve switched places between the corrector and correctee.

“Wow… how ironic.”
“That’s not ironic; it’s just a coincidence.”
“Yeah, I guess it’s just inconvenient. Not really ironic.”

“No, this is ironic! Because it’s unexpected!”
“Well, then it’s just unexpected. Just because something’s unexpected doesn’t mean it’s also necessarily ironic.”
“Then what does ‘ironic’ even mean??”

Ironic: “Happening in the opposite way to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this.” (New Oxford American Dictionary)

Irony: “A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.” (New Oxford American Dictionary)

To solve all problems in the world that are related to irony confusion, I have compiled an incomplete list of all things in the world that are / would be ironic, if they were to happen.

– Getting into a car accident in the parking lot of an automotive repair shop

– Staying up really late to finish a paper, and then oversleeping the class it was due for because you stayed up too late writing the paper

– Trying really hard to flirt, but then being too rigid and ending up being a turn-off because of it

– Loving cats and being allergic to them

– Liking pretty much anything that you have a negative physical reaction to

– Can’t get your first job because you don’t have any job experience

– Nobody will have sex with you because you’re a virgin

– Attempting to be a part of two conflicting groups in order to make friends with the most people you can, only to anger both groups because you’re a member of the other

– Being too tired to go to sleep

– A fire station burning down

– Baby powder is really bad for babies (if they inhale any of it)

– Trojans, in one way or another:
Text message from a friend “Add this to your irony list… in computers, Trojans don’t protect.”

Me “Actually, since ‘Trojan’ is basically a reference to the original Trojan horse, I think it’s the condoms that don’t make sense to me. Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but I don’t know what sex or condoms have to do with the Trojan horse story.”

Friend “The Trojan horse protected the soldiers contained within while penetrating through enemy territory.”

Me “We just labeled a vagina as ‘enemy territory.’ Does that make us gay?”

– Cheating on an exam in your ethics course

– An overweight health teacher

– An English teacher who can’t spell

– If the inventor of DNA testing in criminal cases were to be convicted of a crime due to discovery of DNA evidence linking him to the act

Atheists and agnostics scored higher than any other group polled in a survey designed to test general religious knowledge.

– Narcissism often has deep roots in insecurity

– Getting sick while at the hospital because there’s so many sick people there and you caught something

– Not knowing the definition of “jargon”

– The chapter in my college textbook that teaches the communication theory of “Narrative Paradigm” (that all meaningful communication is a form of storytelling) does NOT begin itself with a short story or anecdote, unlike many other chapters in the book

– Pediatrician who hates kids

– Dentist who has dentures

– My old band Attics to Eden spent about a month talking about whether we should get an interface to record our music, instead of using the Guitar Hero USB microphones and Garageband like we normally do. The quality would be much higher. When we finally got the interface, on our first day of practice with it, when we were going to record my drum tracks… all the XLR microphones we used with it sucked. So we set up three Guitar Hero USB microphones and used Garageband because it sounded better.

– Racecar driver with a suspended license

– George Orwell reportedly worked as a policeman before deciding to become a writer

– Going streaking while wearing a mask that is a to-scale picture of your own face

— — — — — — — — — —

Contrary to popular opinion, some of the supposed examples of irony used in the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morisette are actually not ironic at all.

“A black fly in your Chardonnay” is just annoying. Not ironic. Same thing with “raaaaiiiaaaiiiin on your wedding day” and “a traffic jam when you’re already late.” Very inconvenient and annoying, and yeah wow what are the chances but that’s not what ironic means.

Verse two tells a story of a guy who was afraid to die… and how he died in a plane crash. That’s literally the opposite of irony. What he was afraid would happen did happen.

Actually, let’s just go through the entire song. Green if it meets the definition of ironic, red if it doesn’t.

“Ironic” by Alanis Morissette

♫ An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day

This is much more ironic if the man played the lottery all his life trying to win, but it is close enough to the definition.

♫ It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay

No. Just because something is unfortunate or undesirable doesn’t make it ironic. But this is, however, a pun due to the black fly being in a glass of white wine.

♫ It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late

Debatable. I’ll give this one a point anyway.

♫ It’s like rain on your wedding day

If the weather had said that day would have some of the most perfect weather in years, so you planned your wedding around that day, and then it rained, then yes. Sort of. But if you didn’t check the weather, you have no expectation that just because you think this is supposed to be the perfect day, that the universe is going to adjust itself accordingly. The world doesn’t revolve around you, you narcissistic twat.

♫ It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid

This is a PERFECT example of irony.

♫ It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take

This either makes you an idiot for not following it, or the people giving advice idiots for giving it, depending on whether the situation actually worked out or not.

♫ Who would’ve thought… it figures

This is pretty telling. Seeing life as dreary, being disappointed by something or someone, being let down; these are tragic events, but not ironic. If you expect good things, but bad things happen, that’s not irony. If you have very good reason to believe that a thing will happen, and the opposite happens, that may be ironic, depending on the circumstances.

♫ Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well isn’t this nice…”

As I said, this is the opposite of irony. He was afraid to fly because he might crash. He flew, and he crashed. What would be ironic is if he was an airplane safety inspector and the plane he was flying on crashed due to a mechanical error that could have been prevented.

♫ A traffic jam when you’re already late

A traffic jam in an unpopulated town would be ironic. This is just an unfortunate coincidence. You have no expectation that, because you’re late, the city will adjust itself to accommodate. Annoying, but not irony.

♫ A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break

It depends. Was this place open for smokers before? Is the actual smoking area next to a hospital? That would be ironic.

♫ It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife

It’s hard for me to make up my mind on this one. Taken literally, the sheer absurdity of a situation where you are coming across 10,000 different spoons, and there are no knives, is too comically hilarious to not be an example of irony.

♫ It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife

That’s actually pretty expected. He’s awesome, so no wonder he’s married to someone.

Lyrics from
Writer(s): Alanis Nadine Morissette, Glen Ballard
Copyright: Penny Farthing Music O.B.O. Arlovol Music, Songs Of Universal Inc., Songs Of Universal Inc. O.B.O. Vanhurst Place Music, Vanhurst Place Music, Arlovol Music, and I don’t even know what most of that means.

Verdict: 3/12 examples were actually ironic. Grade: 25%. FAILURE.

— — — — — — — — — —


The fact that most of the supposed examples of irony in the song “Ironic” turn out to not actually be ironic at all… is itself incredibly ironic.