sardonic versus sarcastic

Wed 10 Dec, 2003 04:02 pm
What is the difference between sardonic and sarcastic? I looked them up and still don't really get the difference. Could someone post some examples of each, so that we can all be enlightened?
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Wed 10 Dec, 2003 04:14 pm
Well, here is an explanation of the differences amongst sarcastic, sardonic, and related words:

sar·cas·tic (sär-kas'tik)

Expressing or marked by sarcasm.
Given to using sarcasm.
[SARC(ASM) + -astic, as in ENTHUSIASTIC.]

sar·cas'ti·cal·ly adv.
SYNONYMS sarcastic, ironic, caustic, satirical, sardonic. These adjectives mean having or marked by a feeling of bitterness and a biting or cutting quality. Sarcastic suggests sharp taunting and ridicule that wounds: "a deserved reputation for sarcastic, acerbic and uninhibited polemics" (Burke Marshall). Sardonic is associated with scorn, derision, mockery, and often cynicism: "He was proud, sardonic, harsh to inferiority of every description" (Charlotte Brontë).
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Wed 10 Dec, 2003 07:29 pm
1: a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain <tired of continual sarcasms>
2: a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual b : the use or language of sarcasm

Sardonic - disdainfully or skeptically humorous : derisively mocking <his sardonic expression>

synonyms - SARCASTIC...SARDONIC mean marked by bitterness and a power or will to cut or sting. SARCASTIC implies an intentional inflicting of pain by deriding, taunting, or ridiculing <a critic famous mainly for his sarcastic remarks>... SARDONIC implies scorn, mockery, or derision that is manifested by either verbal or facial expression <surveyed the scene with a sardonic smile>.

Looking over Phoenix32890's post and comparing it to the definitions I found from Merriam-Webster Online, I'm starting to see a subtle difference that may be along the lines of wanting a reaction or just making a statement. Sarcastic seems to want a reaction. Sardonic seems to be making a statement.
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Wed 10 Dec, 2003 07:40 pm
In my personal usage, which of course may be particular to me, I use sarcastic and sardonic slightly differently. I think sarcastic is a bit more raw, with a bitter tinge to it, a shade of defensiveness in it. Sardonic I see in a more positive way, more as wry aside, not as much the words of alienation. The sardonic comment would leave room for the subject of the comment to fit into the world's scheme somehow.
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