A literary technique of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. Humour is often used to aid this.

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A form of humor that is marked by bitter mockery, often using irony, and sometimes conveyed in speech with vocal over-emphasis. With irony, it is insincerely saying something positive which is obviously the opposite of one"s intended, cruel meaning. On the other hand it may be a direct taunt where the jibe means exactly what it says.

At first glance, they seem equivalent to me. Is there a clear distinction about when to use one & when to use the other?


Satire is usually prepared and lengthy. For example, the fake news site The Onion is satire because its staff members carefully prepare each article to make fun of a particular subject.

On the other hand, sarcasm is usually off-the-cuff and short. For example, if while watching a news broadcast about the war in Afghanistan, I remark "The war is going great! We"ve managed to kill a million civilians!", that would be sarcasm because I haven"t prepared it and I"m making fun of the uselessness of the Pentagon.



Satire is a tone which reflects the thoughts of an author. Satires attempt to provoke a social change. There are two main types of satire: Horatian and Juvenalian. Horatian satire makes fun of a subject or idea and is only comical, not serious. An example of this is the skits on Saturday Night Live. Juvenalian satire is caustic and is only serious, not comical, for this satire is usually directed at a specific person like Henry VIII in Sir Thomas More"s Utopia. However, there is one more satire which is Menippean satire, and this satire has many goals. An example of this is Lewis Carroll"s Alice"s Adventures in Wonderland. Satire is a genre.

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Sarcasm is neither a tone nor a genre but a rhetorical device. Sarcasm is obvious to everyone unlike irony. However, there can be a sarcastic tone and a type of irony to sarcasm. Also, sarcasm literally means to tear flesh or to sneer. Finally, sarcasm can be employed in Juvenalian satire.