Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

What exactly is irony?

How can you identify these situations and comment on them to build a connection with native English speakers?

Listen in on today’s episode and learn how to comment on irony.

What is Irony?

The song “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette was released in 1996 and was a good song for describing irony.

Lindsay shared that when she was younger, she and her friend dressed like a line in the song.

The line in the song is, “It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife.”

They were going to a costume party and they dressed in black and glued plastic spoons on their outfit.

In relation to that, today’s episode was inspired by a listener’s question regarding irony.

Here is the question:

Hello guys, my name is Hamdi Bakha from Mauritania, it’s an Arabian country. You probably have heard this name for the first time because it’s not comical. I have a question. I always hear this word a lot: ‘Life is ironic’ or ‘Oh my god, that’s ironic!’ I don’t know what it means. Can you explain it in a native way? I’m elated and stoked to see its meaning.

There are a couple of All Ears English episodes where we mentioned irony or something being ironic.

These episodes are:

AEE 1796: It’s a Sign! Astrology, Stop Signs, and Signatures

AEE 880: Six Ways to Be Funny in English

Ironic and irony

In the dictionary, irony means that something is happening in the opposite way to what is expected and typically causes wry amusement because of this.

It’s one of those things that would be difficult to find an example on the spot but when it happens you immediately identify it.

It is basically strange in some sort of coincidental way.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • It’s ironic that Billy became a doctor because he has always been afraid of blood!
  • It was ironic that the fitness coaches ran into each other at a donut festival.

Lindsay and Michelle discuss that not every example in this song is ironic.

There are some who analyzed the song and mention that it may not be irony but more bad luck.

Lindsay mentioned the line, “It’s like rain on your wedding day.”

Rain on your wedding day, especially if you’re celebrating it in an open area won’t be the ideal weather condition but it’s not ironic.

‘Irony’ is the noun and ‘ironic’ is the adjective you use to describe it.

Here are some examples of how to use irony and ironic in sentences:

  • Wow, that’s ironic!
  • There’s definitely some irony there.
  • I can see the irony there.
  • Ironically, I hate wine but wound up on a wine tour in California.


Now that we’ve shared examples of irony, here is a quick roleplay by Lindsay and Michelle.

In this scenario, Lindsay and Michelle ran into each other on vacation.

Lindsay: Oh my gosh, what are you doing here?!

Michelle: Wow I can’t believe we ran into each other all the way across the country!

Lindsay: I know! Ironically, I was actually just talking about you because we stopped at the zoo and I know you love seeing tigers.

Michelle: Wow, that is ironic!

In this example, the irony is not actually bumping into each other on a vacation.

The irony is that you were just thinking of someone and they suddenly appear in front of you.


The point of All Ears English is to make the connection and not focus on being grammatically correct and intellectual.

What we want you to learn is to get your point across and share your stories to build a relationship with other people.

Irony is a feeling that you get because of a coincidental circumstance.

Use the tips shared in this episode to share your thoughts when you experience something ironic.

It can be hard to grasp sometimes but when it happens, it will obvious to you and you will know how to communicate about it.

Try it out with friends and colleagues!

Do you have an experience that was ironic?

Share it in the comments section!

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