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Difference Between Irony and Coincidence

Irony vs Coincidence
Irony and coincidence are the most often confused words in the English language.

Irony refers to something happening or something said about someone or some situation where the underlying meaning is the exact opposite of the literal meaning. Irony can be defined in many other ways, but this is one of the most accepted ways to define it and describe it.

Irony has been differentiated into the following types:

Verbal irony– Verbal irony refers to a person saying something which is supposed to mean exactly the opposite of what is being said. For example, A tourist exclaiming at the heap of trash bags in downtown Manhattan that he has never seen anything as wonderful as that.

Dramatic Irony– Dramatic irony refers to the audience knowing something which at least one of the characters in the play does not know, information which the audience has but the character does not have. For example, In “Romeo and Juliet,” the audience knew that Juliet was not dead when Romeo found her. She was unconscious, but Romeo did not know this.

Tragic Irony– Tragic irony is a type of dramatic irony where the audience is fully aware of what is going to happen and watches it unfold. The outcome of the actions is tragic and the audience knows it and has to go through it without being able to do anything about it. For example, In “Romeo and Juliet,” Romeo kills himself thinking Juliet was dead when he finds her, and Juliet on waking up finds him dead and stabs herself.

Situational Irony– It is a modern term where something happens and its result is very unexpected. For example, A fire truck catching fire or A hairdresser having a bad hair day.

Coincidence is when two or more than two events happen of striking similarity at one particular time by accident or by chance.
Coincidence is difficult to explain as they happen entirely as a result of chance. For example,
Two female celebrities wearing the same gown to the Academy Awards function.
Two classmates, who were not in touch with each other, meeting each other at an airport after ten years of time has gone by.


1.Coincidence is the happening of one or more events which produce results which were unexpected; irony refers to different singular events happening where the result is exactly opposite of what was expected literally.
2.Coincidence is not differentiated into types. Irony is differentiated into different types; verbal irony, dramatic irony, tragic irony, and situational irony.
3.Coincidences happen purely by chance, and they are very difficult to explain. Some ironies happen by chance like situational irony, but others like verbal irony are intended by the speaker to mean exactly the opposite of what he is saying because it is fully intended. Some actions are also ironic and they may or may not be intended.

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  1. What you call “verbal irony” (above) seems more sarcasm to me.

  2. Irony, strictly speaking is a literary device which shouldn’t be used to describe real events, although such useage is commonly accepted. It describes the opposite of what is expected. A good example of irony in that sense would be a police officer interviewing a suspect for an offence that he himself was also being investigated for. It would be a coincidence (not an irony) if the suspect was also a police officer.

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