Irony vs Coincidence: Difference and Comparison

There are so many words in English that people often get confused about their usage. We can find these words in our day-to-day life.

These words are not rhyming pairs, and they have unique pronunciations as well. Despite these words’ spelling differences, many native speakers tend to make mistakes in using a few commonly used English phrases.

Even most native speakers fall prey to these mistakes. Irony and coincidence are the two commonly used words that are often misrepresented in their usage.

The irony is an English word whose origin can be traced back to the Greek word εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning dissimulation or simulated ignorance. Irony refers to a current event that is exactly opposite to the previously happened or currently occurring event.


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It simply denotes an event that is the opposite of what we expect. ‘Coincidence’ refers to the medieval Latin word coincident, meaning coincides.

It means an act of coincidence between unlikely events. It is used to describe when there are similarities between two different events. The similarities can be one or many.

Key Takeaways

  1. The irony is a situation where the opposite of what is expected happens, while a coincidence is a situation where two unrelated things happen simultaneously.
  2. Irony often involves a twist of fate, while a coincidence is a random occurrence.
  3. The irony is used for dramatic effect, while a coincidence is often just a surprising event.

Irony vs. Coincidence

Irony is a rhetorical device in which the intended meaning of words or actions is different from their literal or expected meaning. It can be used to create humor, emphasize a point, or convey a message. Coincidence is a situation where two or more things happen at the same time by chance, without any apparent causal relationship. It is a random occurrence.

Irony vs Coincidence

The events accompanying irony can be explained, but those denoted by coincidence are hard to explain. The reason is that the similarity probability between two events denoted by coincidence is extremely low. It purely occurs by chance.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonIronyCoincidence
OriginAncient GreekMedieval Latin
MeaningReferring to an event or a situation that is exactly the opposite.Referring to similarities between two unique events.
TypesFour different categories exist in irony.No such varieties.
ExampleAn apple seller hates apples.Two people wearing the same dress to an award function.

What is Irony?

Irony denotes an event opposite to our expectations or the actual work done. It can otherwise be denoted as the contradiction between the expected event and the actual event which has taken place.

It means that the result of the event is unexpected from what we wished or expected to happen. There are three main types of Irony. They are as follows,

  • Verbal Irony

It refers to an event that sarcastically means the opposite of the event. Unlike sarcasm, it is not intended to deliver the tone harshly.

For example, a person exclaims at a gigantic heap of waste in a town that he/she has never seen something as marvelous as that.

  • Situational Irony

It refers to a situation whose outcome is performed to aid an event but ends differently. For example, assume a situation where a poor yet lovely couple lives.

To make her husband feel happy, the wife sells the most precious thing she owns and buys another thing that would aid a precious object owned by her husband. At the same time, the husband sells his precious thing to buy another object which would add beauty to the precious object his wife owns.

Neither of them is aware of the fact that their action won’t help the other.

  • Dramatic Irony

It refers to a situation where the reader gets a picture of the upcoming unexpected event, but the character would not. It is sometimes referred to as tragic irony as well.

In the case of dramatic irony, the audience would have got the information about what has happened, but the character would have no idea about it. In the famous Shakespeare play ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ the audience who was watching knew that Juliet was not dead, but the character Romeo was not aware.

Dramatic Irony turns into tragic irony when the character takes the fatal decision. At the end of the play, Romeo kills himself, unaware that Juliet is unconscious.

And when Juliet awakens and finds Romeo dead, she kills herself. The dramatic irony was used intentionally by the writer to get the attention of the audience and make it more emotional.

irony 1

What is Coincidence?

Coincidence is when two unique events possess one or two similarities between them. It got originated from the Medieval Latin coincidence, meaning agrees, coincide.

It refers to the connection or closeness between two unlikely events which happen by chance. The reason for the coincidence cannot be explained as it occurs by a fluke.

For example, two students wearing the same dress on an award function day is coincidental as neither has planned this. It occurred spontaneously.

Two friends meeting each other at a park after twenty years is also an example of coincidence.


Main Differences Between Irony and Coincidence

  1. Coincidence occurs due to similarities in two or more events that were not expected. But irony refers to events which is exactly the opposite of the expected event.
  2. There are various types as far as irony is concerned, but as far as coincidence is concerned, there are no types.
  3. The similarity denoted by coincidence occurs accidentally and cannot be explained. But this is not the case with ironies.
  4. The speaker deliberately uses some verbal irony to mean it in a sarcastic (not rude) manner.
  5. The origin of Irony is Ancient Greek, whereas the roots of Coincidence can be traced to Medieval Latin.
  6. The events referred to by coincidence are not planned. Those events occur naturally.
Difference Between Irony and Coincidence
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