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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Simon Regan, founding editor of political satire magazine Scallywag, has died at the age of 58.
▪ This hilariously funny collection of political satire is one of the best Private Eye annuals to date.
▪ The line between reportage and fiction, between social satire and sentimental snapshots, was blurring.
▪ Mayle, who now divides his time between Long Island and Provence, earns chuckles with his gentle social satire.
mordant wit/satire/humour
▪ He showed his willingness to trade his mordant wit for the required political cliches.
▪ a political satire
▪ Gelbart is a writer of comedy and social satire.
▪ The film is a stinging satire on American politics.
▪ This is her first serious novel; up till now she has only written political satires.
▪ Ballard's satire, however extreme, is always convincing, because its governing ideas inhabit every detail.
▪ Euripides' satire on the paranoia of the idealist has always been the cult play of the Attic repertoire.
▪ It's not satire exactly, since Hayworth has too kindly an eye for the human condition.
▪ My services were much in demand, not only for sentimental verses, but for expressions of anger and rather cruel satire.
▪ One genre it mostly ignores is satire and humor.
▪ Political satire is a tricky thing; it's only as strong as its target.
▪ Stevenson sometimes stumbles too far into academic minutiae and her satire can be flat-footed, but her London is beguiling.
▪ This bawdy academic satire, with its potentially offensive laddish point of view, turns out to be a traditional romantic narrative.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Satire \Sat"ire\ (?; in Eng. often ?; 277), n. [L. satira, satura, fr. satura (sc. lanx) a dish filled with various kinds of fruits, food composed of various ingredients, a mixture, a medley, fr. satur full of food, sated, fr. sat, satis, enough: cf. F. satire. See Sate, Sad, a., and cf. Saturate.]

  1. A composition, generally poetical, holding up vice or folly to reprobation; a keen or severe exposure of what in public or private morals deserves rebuke; an invective poem; as, the Satires of Juvenal.

  2. Keeness and severity of remark; caustic exposure to reprobation; trenchant wit; sarcasm.

    Syn: Lampoon; sarcasm; irony; ridicule; pasquinade; burlesque; wit; humor.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c., "work intended to ridicule vice or folly," from Middle 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" (see saturate).\n

\nFirst used in the literary sense in Latin in reference to a collection of poems in various meters on a variety of subjects by the late republican Roman poet Ennius. The matter of the little that survives of his verse does not seem to be particularly satiric, but in classical Latin the word came to mean especially a poem which assailed the prevailing vices, one after another. Altered in Latin by influence of Greek satyr, on mistaken notion that the literary form is related to the Greek satyr drama (see satyr). 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]\n

\nProper 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]\n

\n[I]n whatever department of human expression, wherever there is objective truth there is satire

[Wyndham Lewis, "Rude Assignment," 1950]

\nFor nuances of usage, see humor (n.).

1905, from satire (n.). Related: Satired; satiring.


n. 1 (context uncountable English) A literary device of writing or art which principally ridicule its subject often as an intended means of provoke or preventing change. Humour, irony and exaggeration are often used to aid this. 2 (context countable English) A satirical work.


n. witty language used to convey insults or scorn; "he used sarcasm to upset his opponent"; "irony is wasted on the stupid"; "Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own"--Johathan Swift [syn: sarcasm, irony, caustic remark]


Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

A feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm—"in satire, irony is militant"—but parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing. This "militant" irony or sarcasm often professes to approve of (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist wishes to attack.

Satire is nowadays found in many artistic forms of expression, including literature, plays, commentary, television shows, and media such as lyrics.

Usage examples of "satire".

Shebbeare, a public writer, who, in a series of printed letters to the people of England, had animadverted on the conduct of the ministry in the most acrimonious terms, stigmatized some great names with all the virulence of censure, and even assaulted the throne itself with oblique insinuation and ironical satire.

Augustine in an underwater cave off Dalkey se afront A wicked yet affectionate satire on Irishy.

But this discussion is immaterial, since these supreme examples of literary excellence exist in all kinds of composition,--poetry, fable, romance, ethical teaching, prophecy, interpretation, history, humor, satire, devotional flight into the spiritual and supernatural, everything in which the human mind has exercised itself,--from the days of the Egyptian moralist and the Old Testament annalist and poet down to our scientific age.

Some people therefore think that Armado was intended as a satire on Raleigh for the amusement of the Essex coterie.

I was recognized by an actor who accosted me, and introduced me to one of his comrades, a self-styled poet, and a great enemy of the Abbe Chiari, whom I did not like, as he had written a biting satire against me, and I had never succeeded in avenging myself on him.

King of the Sun and the Moon and the Rising Tide, et cetera, thanks for marrying me at last after sleeping with me for a thousand and one nights and begetting three children on me and listening while I amused you with proverbs and parables, chronicles and pleasantries, quips and jests and admonitory instances, stories and anecdotes, dialogues and histories and elegies and satires and Allah alone knows what else!

He then shewed me a satire which I could not understand, but which was meant to turn the whole Court into ridicule.

In particular, the etymological definitions of satire suggested by Diomedes are usefully metaphorical.

The Abbe Pizzi, who had been the chief promoter of her apotheosis, was so inundated with pamphlets and satires that for some months he dared not shew his face.

He was provided with a small fortune, but an abundance of wit, and had a great leaning towards pleasure and the exercise of satire.

He was, in fact, one of those who had honored me with their satire, when the Emperor Joseph selected me as poet of his theater.

The satire against Giulio de Medicis, which we find in his works, having made it necessary for him to leave Rome, he returned to Como, where he married Abondia Rezzonica.

Martelli composed a satire against Maffei, in which he designated him by the anagram of Femia.

Yet beneath the ritual sounds of Soviet rejoicing there was a softer, more melancholic voice - the carefully concealed voice of satire and dissent only audible to those who had felt the suffering his music expressed.

But I will not undertake the task of distinguishing satire from irony, burlesque, caricature, lampoon, travesty, pasquinade, raillery, billingsgate, diatribe, invective, imitation, mimicry, parody, jokes, hoax, and spoof.