Difference Between Sarcastic and Sardonic

Main Difference – Sarcastic vs. Sardonic

Sarcastic and sardonic are two words that are very similar in meaning, but a difference can be observed in their origins, nature and usage. The main difference between sarcastic and sardonic is that being sarcastic often refers to making sharp, bitter, cutting remarks or a taunts in order to convey contempt while being sardonic refers to being cynical, and humorous in the face of adversity.

What Does Sarcastic Mean

Sarcasm is a sharp, bitter, cutting remark or a taunt that conveys contempt. The word sarcasm comes from the Greek sarkasmos meaning to tear flesh, bite the lip in rage, or sneer. Sarcasm can contain ambivalence or irony. Sarcasm can be also defined as the use of irony to mock or convey contempt. Here, you say things that are the opposite of what you mean in order to hurt or disdain someone.

The distinction between sarcasm and other literary devices like irony, parody and satire is that sarcastic remarks are often insulting and derogatory and is made with the intention of causing hurt or pain and humiliating someone. For example, ‘your brain must be in tip-top condition since it’s rarely used’ is an insult veiled in the form of praise. It implies that a person is stupid and never behaves intelligently; the recipient of this ‘praise’ is likely to be insulted and humiliated. Sarcasm can be direct or indirect. Sometimes, it is difficult to recognize a sarcastic remark just by looking at the content of the phrase, the nature of the phrase can be recognized by the tone, mood and expression of the speaker.Main Difference - Sarcastic vs Sardonic

What Does Sardonic Mean

Sardonic can be defined as grimly mocking or cynical. Sardonic comes from the Greek sardonios, alteration of sardanios, used by Homer to describe bitter or scornful laughter. Being sardonic shows that you don’t have a good opinion of someone or something and that you are better than them. Sardonic is often used to describe a facial expression of a person as well.

For example, “her mouth twisted into a sardonic smile”. In fact, the word ‘sardonic’ is said to be derived from Sardinian plant found in Sardinia. The ingestion of this plant results in death and the face convulse into an expression resembling a grin or laughter, just before death.

Sardonic is also dubbed as humor in the face of adversity. A key feature of sardonic remark is that it can be directed at oneself.  For example,

“I cook such tasty food that everyone refuses to eat it,” she said with a sardonic smile.Difference Between Sarcastic and Sardonic

Difference Between Sarcastic and Sardonic


Sarcastic can be defined as the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

Sardonic can be defined as grimly mocking or cynical.


Sarcastic remarks often contain irony.

sardonic doesn’t implicate the use of irony


Sarcastic is not used to refer to something/somebody cynical.

Sardonic is laced with a cynical attitude.


Sarcastic doesn’t implicate a grim (sad or relentless) tone; it is more often associated with humor.

Sardonic implicate a grim, sad, or restless tone.Difference Between Sarcastic and Sardonic - infogram

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