Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Sarcastic and Sardonic

Sarcastic vs Sardonic

“Sardonic” and “sarcastic” are two words which are very similar in meaning and used almost in the same manner, but their origin, their actual meaning, and their usages are different from each other. They are so close that they are often confused as being interchangeable.

“Sarcastic” refers to a remark which is bitter, derisive, contemptuous, sharp, and a taunt meant to hurt someone. It is a remark which is heavily laced with irony. Though irony and sarcasm are not the same thing, yet the sarcastic remarks have irony involved. That is, the meaning of what is being said is opposite of what it is intended to mean. It refers to the intention of someone bullying or ridiculing someone by saying something hurtful, and its main feature is inversion. For example, The joke was so funny that people decided to keep a straight face.

The word originated from the Greek word “sarkasmos” which meant “to sneer” or literally “tearing of flesh.” None of the meanings referred to anything pleasant. They all referred to unpleasantness caused to another by someone. It was recorded for the first time in 1579 in the English language in “The Shepheardes Calendar.”

Sarcastic remarks or sarcasm can be used directly or indirectly to show contempt for someone. For example, “You couldn’t add two plus two if you had the whole class helping you.” It can be used indirectly too, for example, “What a mathematician you have become!” It is mainly expressed by vocal modulations.

Sardonic remarks refer to mockery, cynicism, derision, and scorn. One of the main features of this word is it is sometimes considered humor in the times of adversity. For example, The food prisoners get is so good that they hardly chew it. It involves very bitter feelings said with disdain. Another thing about a sardonic remark is it might be targeted at your own self. For example, I am so good at telling jokes that people cry when they hear them. It also expresses arrogance and an attitude which indicates superiority.

It has originated from the Greek word “sardonios” meaning “bitter or scornful smiles or laughter.” It is often considered humor in the face of adversity. This Greek word originated from the story behind the Sardinian plant found in Sardinia which when ingested resulted in death. Just before death the face convulsed into an expression resembling a grin or laughter.
It first made its appearance in its root form in Homer. Odysseus, sardonically smiling, when he is attacked by one of the suitors of his wife.

It is used to express cynicism, derision, and skeptical humor by writing, commenting, or a particular gesture. It is used to hurt someone’s feelings. Humor and irony are involved but mainly it is humor during adversity.


1.Sarcastic remarks and sardonic remarks have similar but different meanings.
2.The main feature of sarcasm is that it is laced with irony. Sardonic remarks are humor in the face of adversity.
3.One can apologize for a sarcastic remark to pacify someone, but sardonic remarks are often to oneself and, thus, cannot be apologized for.

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  1. Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog post.Thanks Again. Keep writing.

  2. I have always used sardonic to define a sarcastic remark that is also clever and humorous.

    Fine line…as with all intellectual distinctions…
    It doesn’t really matter, because the Great Unwashed seldom understand the meaning of the statement, let alone distinguish which it is…

  3. So “the main feature of sarcasm is that it is laced with irony”, and then every example employed to illustrate the use of sardonic is laced with irony. Maybe not the best answer for a site called differencebetween.net

  4. These definitions and examples are incorrect. I also looked up irony v sarcasm on the site and it is no better.

    I am wondering if the article wasn’t initially written in another language then only auto-translated to English before posting. Maybe I need a new fish?

  5. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer

  6. That comment was for Gary.

  7. It’s just plain wrong. The characteristics are switched; a sarcastic remarks claims the opposite of the truth in order to belittle the target, while a sardonic comment is intended to emphasize the inferiority of the target, and the superiority of the speaker.

  8. Sarcastic remarks and sardonic remarks are characterised by both humour and irony. The distinction lies in the intention to hurt or be spiteful, which is the main characteristic of the former but not the latter. This is why sarcasm is (sarcastically) referred to as the lowest form of wit. Indeed sardonic remarks are often used as a tool to counter adversity. When Churchill referred to the British as being ‘bitter weeds’ he was being sardonic not sarcastic.

    • Thank you, Sosa NLN, for using an example to explain the meaning of “sardonic”. The Churchill reference is something I can remember.

  9. perhaps, sarCASTic is outward (like you cast a net) and sarDONic is inward (like you don a coat)?

    • Brilliant wordplay! How about ‘CAST aspersions’ (for sarCASTic) and ‘DON’t cast aspersions (for sarDONic). Sarcasm is commenting on others in
      a negative manner whereas being sardonic is ultimately to make comment in a positive manner. Churchill’s ‘bitter weeds’ comment is a typical sardonic comment, typifying strength and resolve rather than weakness and wavering

  10. Yes, that may be the only distinction, because sarcasm can also be defensive, like if someone over explains something to you and you say “Thanks, I never would have figured that out!”

  11. I was getting more confused with every definition. How about this:

    Sarcasm mocking, derisive, scornful by expressing the opposite of what is being meant.

    E.g. A striker in a footy match misses a sitter 6 yards out. In this case a sarcastic remark could be “brilliant shot, a real worldy” which it clearly was not.

    Sardonisism is mocking and derisive through some other means like comparison.

    E.g. same scenario as above but a sardonic remark might be “my grandmummy could take a better shot than that.”

  12. This definitions are different to what I imagined. I thought sarcasm was irony with a low dose of hurtfulness, nothing meant to hurt someone badly, just a light-to-no insult. I thought sardony was the more hurtful form of sarcasm, meant to deal a bigger blow. Fuzzy Nestor’s definition looks like a good alternative to what I thought.

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