early 15c., mokkerie, "act of derision or scorn; ridicule, disparagement; a delusion, sham, pretense," from Old French mocquerie "sneering, mockery, sarcasm" (13c., Modern French moquerie), from moquer (see mock (v.)). From mid-15c. as "joking, making mischievous pleasantries." Mockage also was common 16c.-17c.
in rhetoric, "the use of a word in a sense opposite to its proper meaning; ironic use of a word in sarcasm or humor," 1530s, from Latin antiphrasis, from Greek antiphrasis, from antiphrazein "to express (something) by the opposite," from anti "against, opposite, instead of" (see anti-) + phrazein "to tell, declare, point out, express" (see phrase (n.)). Related: Antiphrastic.
1580s, with a capital -c-, "resembling Cynic philosophers," from cynic + -al (1). By 1660s (with a lower-case -c-) the meaning had shaded into the general one of "disposed to disbelieve or doubt the sincerity or value of social usages or personal character or motives and to express it by sarcasm and sneers, disparaging of the motives of others, captious, peevish." Related: Cynically.
Cynical expresses a perverse disposition to put an unfavorable interpretation upon conduct, or to exercise austerity under profession of a belief in the worthlessness of any offered form of enjoyment. Misanthropic expresses a hatred of mankind as a race. Pessimistic is primarily and generally a philosophical epithet, applying to those who hold that the tendency of things is only or on the whole toward evil. [Century Dictionary]
"figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of the literal meaning" (usually covert sarcasm under a serious or friendly pretense), c. 1500, from Latin ironia, from Greek eironeia "dissimulation, assumed ignorance," from eiron "dissembler," perhaps related to eirein "to speak," from PIE *wer-yo-, suffixed form of root *were- (3) "to speak" (see verb). Used in Greek of affected ignorance, especially that of Socrates, as a method of exposing an antagonist's ignorance by pretending to modestly seek information or instruction from him. Thus sometimes in English in the sense "simulated ignorance."
For nuances of usage, see humor (n.). In early use often ironia. Figurative use for "condition opposite to what might be expected; contradictory circumstances; apparent mockery of natural or expected consequences" is from 1640s, sometimes distinguished as irony of fate or irony of circumstances. Related: Ironist. A verb ironize "speak ironically" is recorded from c. 1600.
negative particle, a word expressing negation, denial, refusal, or prohibition, mid-13c., unstressed variant of noht, naht "in no way" (see naught). As an interjection to negate what was said before or reveal it as sarcasm, it is attested by 1900, popularized 1989 by "Wayne's World" sketches on "Saturday Night Live" TV show.
Not, spoken with emphasis, often stands for the negation of a whole sentence referred to: as, I hope not (that is, I hope that the state of things you describe does not exist). [Century Dictionary, 1895]
To not know X from Y (one's ass from one's elbow, shit from Shinola, etc.) was a construction attested from c. 1930 in modern use; but compare Middle English not know an A from a windmill (c. 1400). Double negative construction not un- was derided by Orwell, but is persistent and ancient in English, popular with Milton and the Anglo-Saxon poets.
c. 1300, transitive, "to stop the breath by preventing air from entering the windpipe;" late 14c., "to make to suffocate, deprive of the power of drawing breath," of persons as well as swallowed objects; a shortening of acheken (c. 1200), from Old English aceocian "to choke, suffocate," probably from root of ceoke "jaw, cheek" (see cheek (n.)), with intensive a-.
Intransitive sense from c. 1400. Meaning "gasp for breath" is from early 15c. Figurative use from c. 1400, in early use often with reference to weeds stifling the growth of useful plants (a Biblical image). Meaning "to fail in the clutch" is attested by 1976, American English. Related: Choked; choking.
The North American choke-cherry (1785) supposedly was so called for its astringent qualities: compare choke-apple "crab-apple" (1610s); and choke-pear (1530s) "kind of pear with an astringent taste" (also with a figurative sense, defined by Johnson as "Any aspersion or sarcasm, by which another person is put to silence)." Choked up "overcome with emotion and unable to speak" is attested by 1896. The baseball batting sense is by 1907.
mid-15c., "a certain length" of something; 1520s, "gash, incision, opening made by an edged instrument," from cut (v.).
Meaning "piece cut off" (especially of meat) is from 1590s. Figurative sense of "a wounding sarcasm" is from 1560s. Meaning "an excision or omission of a part" is from c. 1600. Sense of "a reduction" is by 1881. Meaning "manner in which a thing is cut" is from 1570s, hence "fashion, style, make" (1580s).
Dialectal or local sense of "a creek or inlet" is from 1620s. Meaning "channel or trench made by cutting or digging" is from 1730. Meaning "block or stamp on which a picture is engraved" is from 1640s. Sense of "act of cutting a deck of cards" is from 1590s. Cinematic sense of "a quick transition from one shot to the next" is by 1933. Meaning "share" (of profit, loot, etc.) is by 1918.
Meaning "phonograph recording" is by 1949; the verb in the sense "make a recording" is by 1937, from the literal sense in reference to the mechanical process of making sound recordings.
Instead of a cutting tool actually operated by the sound vibrations from the voices or instruments of performing artists, the panatrope records are cut by a tool that is operated electrically. ["The New Electric Phonograph," in Popular Science, February 1926].
A cut above "a degree better than" is from 1818. Cold-cuts "cooked meats sliced and served cold" (1945) translates German kalter Aufschnitt.
c. 1500, "a literary work (originally in verse) intended to ridicule prevailing vice or folly by scornful or contemptuous expression," from French satire (14c.) and directly from Latin satira "satire; poetic medley," earlier satura, in lanx satura "mixed dish, dish filled with various kinds of fruit," literally "full dish," from fem. of satur "sated" (from PIE root *sa- "to satisfy").
The word acquired its literary sense, in Latin, in reference to a collection of poems in various meters on a variety of subjects by the late republican poet Ennius. The little that survives of his verse does not now seem particularly satiric, but in classical Latin the word was used especially of a poem which assailed various vices one after another.
In modern general use, "a denouncing or deriding speech or writing full of sarcasm, ridicule, irony, etc." (all of which can express satire). The broader meaning "fact or circumstance that makes someone or something look ridiculous" is by 1690s.
Satire, n. An obsolete kind of literary composition in which the vices and follies of the author's enemies were expounded with imperfect tenderness. In this country satire never had more than a sickly and uncertain existence, for the soul of it is wit, wherein we are dolefully deficient, the humor that we mistake for it, like all humor, being tolerant and sympathetic. Moreover, although Americans are 'endowed by their Creator' with abundant vice and folly, it is not generally known that these are reprehensible qualities, wherefore the satirist is popularly regarded as a sour-spirited knave, and his every victim's outcry for codefendants evokes a national assent. [Ambrose Bierce, "Devil's Dictionary," 1911]
Proper satire is distinguished, by the generality of the reflections, from a lampoon which is aimed against a particular person, but they are too frequently confounded. [Johnson]
[I]n whatever department of human expression, wherever there is objective truth there is satire [Wyndham Lewis, "Rude Assignment," 1950]
mid-14c., "fluid or juice of an animal or plant," from Old North French humour "liquid, dampness; (medical) humor" (Old French humor, umor; Modern French humeur), from Latin umor "body fluid" (also humor, by false association with humus "earth"); related to umere "be wet, moist," and to uvescere "become wet" (see humid).
In old medicine, "any of the four body fluids" (blood, phlegm, choler, and melancholy or black bile).
The human body had four humors—blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile—which, in turn, were associated with particular organs. Blood came from the heart, phlegm from the brain, yellow bile from the liver, and black bile from the spleen. Galen and Avicenna attributed certain elemental qualities to each humor. Blood was hot and moist, like air; phlegm was cold and moist, like water; yellow bile was hot and dry, like fire; and black bile was cold and dry, like earth. In effect, the human body was a microcosm of the larger world. [Robert S. Gottfried, "The Black Death," 1983]
Their relative proportions were thought to determine physical condition and state of mind. This gave humor an extended sense of "mood, temporary state of mind" (recorded from 1520s); the sense of "amusing quality, funniness, jocular turn of mind" is first recorded 1680s, probably via sense of "whim, caprice" as determined by state of mind (1560s), which also produced the verb sense of "indulge (someone's) fancy or disposition." Modern French has them as doublets: humeur "disposition, mood, whim;" humour "humor." "The pronunciation of the initial h is only of recent date, and is sometimes omitted ..." [OED].
For aid in distinguishing the various devices that tend to be grouped under "humor," this guide, from Henry W. Fowler ["Modern English Usage," 1926] may be of use:
HUMOR: motive/aim: discovery; province: human nature; method/means: observation; audience: the sympathetic
WIT: motive/aim: throwing light; province: words & ideas; method/means: surprise; audience: the intelligent
SATIRE: motive/aim: amendment; province: morals & manners; method/means: accentuation; audience: the self-satisfied
SARCASM: motive/aim: inflicting pain; province: faults & foibles; method/means: inversion; audience: victim & bystander
INVECTIVE: motive/aim: discredit; province: misconduct; method/means: direct statement; audience: the public
IRONY: motive/aim: exclusiveness; province: statement of facts; method/means: mystification; audience: an inner circle
CYNICISM: motive/aim: self-justification; province: morals; method/means: exposure of nakedness; audience: the respectable
SARDONIC: motive/aim: self-relief; province: adversity; method/means: pessimism; audience: the self