Difference Between Satire and Sarcasm

Main Difference – Satire vs. Sarcasm

Satire and sarcasm are two terms that are often used interchangeably. However, there is a distinct difference between satire and sarcasm. Satire is a literary genre that exposes the follies and weaknesses of the society. Sarcasm is the use of irony to mock or taunt someone. Though both these genres point out weaknesses in people, the main difference between satire and sarcasm is that the intention of satire is to instigate people towards a positive change while the intention of sarcasm is to simply convey contempt.

What is Satire

Satire is a literary genre that uses literary devices like wit, humor, irony and exaggeration to expose the follies and weaknesses of the society. The main intention of satire is to prompt positive change in the society. Therefore, it can be called a form of constructive criticism. This can be mostly observed in novels and plays. It takes a message to the audience about their own faults, without hurting or being rude to them.  Satire uses humor to deliver this message. It is through humor that the creator of a satirical novel or a play portrays the failings, absurdity of a concept, situation or a lifestyle.

Difference Between Satire and Sarcasm

Example of a Political satire

What is Sarcasm

Sarcasm is the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.  A sarcastic comment or remark means the exact opposite of what is being said. A sarcastic remark can be noticeable through vocal inflections (tone and pitch). It can insult veiled in the form of praise. Sometimes it can also be a direct remark containing harsh words. In a written text, it can be difficult to note sarcastic remarks. Sarcasm is more often used in conversations between people.

Unlike satire, sarcasm can be wounding and upsetting. It is often accompanied by feelings like disdain and bitterness. It is important to note that sarcasm has no intention of correcting any weaknesses or failings. It is merely pointing out a mistake in a way that embarrasses or hurts that person. Sarcasm can be termed destructive as the users of sarcasm do not consider the feelings of the other person.Main Difference - Satire and Sarcasm

Difference Between Satire and Sarcasm


Satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize the failings and limitations of the society and its individuals.

Sarcasm is the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.


Satire is a literary genre and is used in novels, plays, films etc.

Sarcasm is mostly used in verbal conversations.


Satire’s aim is to point out follies in the society and instigate people towards positive change.

Sarcasm’s aim is to simply convey disdain or insult.


Satire makes people laugh; it uses humor to convey a message to the audience.

Sarcasm is rarely humorous or funny.


Satire does not hurt or upset people.

Sarcasm often hurts, upsets and offends people.


Satire can have a larger audience.

Sarcasm generally has a smaller audience.


Satire is subtle than sarcasm, yet it is not difficult to recognize sarcasm.

Sarcasm is sometimes difficult to recognize, especially in written form.


Satire is a form of constructive criticism.

Sarcasm is often destructive.Difference Between Satire and Sarcasm -infographic

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