Difference Between Irony and Coincidence (With Table)

There are so many words in English in which people often get confused in its usage. We could find these words in our day-to-day life. These words are not rhyming pairs and they have unique pronunciation as well. Despite these words differing significantly in their spelling, many native speakers tend to make mistake in the usage of few commonly used English phrases. Even most of the native speakers fall prey to these mistakes. Irony and coincidence are the two commonly used words that are often misrepresented in its usage.

The irony is an English word whose origin can be traced backed 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. It simply denotes an event that is literally the opposite of what we expect for. The origin for ‘Coincidence’ can be traced back to medieval Latin word coincidentia, meaning coincide. 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.         

Irony vs Coincidence

The difference between irony and coincidence is that irony represents an exact opposite scenario to the occurring event or the event for which it is denoting. But coincidence highlights the common things between two unlikely events. It does not highlight the contrast between the two events. While there are many types in irony, there are no such categories in case of coincidence.

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

Comparison Table Between Irony and Coincidence

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

What is Irony?

Irony denotes an event which is happening literally opposite to our expectations or to the actual work done. It can otherwise be denoted as the incongruity between the expected event and the actual event which has taken place. It means that the result of the event is totally unexpected from what we actually wished or expected to happen. There are three main types of Irony. They are as follows,

  • Verbal Irony

It refers to an event which sarcastically means the opposite of the event. Unlike sarcasm, it is not intended to deliver the tone harshly. For example, a person exclaiming at a gigantic heap of waste in a town that he/she has never seen something as marvellous 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 which 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 which his wife owns it. 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 about 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 on it. In the famous Shakespeare’s play of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the audience who were watching it knew that Juliet was not dead but the character Romeo was not aware of. 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 awake and finds that Romeo is 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.

What is Coincidence?

Coincidence is when two unique events possess one or two similarities between them. It got originated from the Medieval Latin coincidere, meaning agree, coincide. It refers to the connection or closeness between two unlikely events which happens 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 a coincidence as this has not been planned by either of them. 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 usually occurs due to similarities in two or more events which 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 as such.
  3. The similarity denoted by coincidence occurs accidentally and cannot be explained. But this is not the case with ironies. Some verbal ironies are deliberately used by the speaker to mean it in a sarcastic (not rude) manner.
  4. The origin of Irony is from Ancient Greek whereas the roots of Coincidence can be traced to Medieval Latin.
  5. The events referred by coincidence are not planned. Those events occur naturally.

Conclusion

Though Irony and Coincidence are two unique words with different spelling and meaning, it is often confused with each other.

Reference

  1. https://www.britannica.com/art/irony
x
Noun vs Verb video