There's nothing like some good old irony, but before 1502, we didn't even have a word for humorous contrasts. We borrowed it from the Latin word ironia, which comes from Greek eironeia, meaning "feigned ignorance", a common type of irony in Ancient Greek theatre. This further comes from eiron, a word with a rather specific definition of "a person who feigns ignorance", and which, curiously enough, is named after a character in Aristophanes' plays, Eiron, who used concealed talent to triumph over boastful characters. Even earlier, his name is thought to either come from or somehow be related to the verb eirein, meaning "to speak" and deriving (through Proto-Hellenic) from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction were, also "to speak". That established, allow me to shed some quick insight on the usage of ironic versus ironical- the reason I thought to make this post. Both are correct, but ironical is a bit more formal and British and it seems a bit weirder to say- Ironic is utilized more than twelve times as often in modern literature.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.