Definition of sardonic in English:



  • Grimly mocking or cynical.

    ‘Starkey attempted a sardonic smile’
    • ‘In my experience all it takes to shatter the take-charge persona of a master is a mildly sardonic tone or a heel to the nuts.’
    • ‘Stephen could place his own sardonic stamp on what were in some cases widely shared late Victorian literary tastes.’
    • ‘He was witty, teasing and flamboyant and his dialogue delivery racy and sardonic.’
    • ‘He sits in the Yorkshire court with a sardonic but kindly female family judge and a humourless martinet.’
    • ‘He was also the observant one, casting a sardonic eye on the absurdities of pop stardom, the Swinging Sixties and the aftermath of that crazy decade.’
    • ‘You can bet, though, that the Frenchman has allowed himself a sardonic smile.’
    • ‘I mean, he had a lot of sardonic, sarcastic things like that to say and to make fun of himself, and so forth.’
    • ‘Their sardonic remarks to each of the arguments put forth by the other teams sent waves of laughter among the crowd.’
    • ‘He considers this sardonic memoir of childhood in a small corner of the British Empire’
    • ‘In my more sardonic moments I add that the problem with England cricket is not the absence of a level playing field but the lack of good players.’
    • ‘The sardonic humour was wasted on him, and he begged me to give him the inside track on what drugs to take to win gold without the eternal shame of a life ban.’
    • ‘The play has moments of sharp humour, mostly emanating from the sardonic Jean.’
    • ‘Fan though I am of his great performances of yore, his perpetual air of sardonic superiority is now getting very grating.’
    • ‘Like most of the first smart, sardonic novel, the story appears to have been thrown out with contemptuous ease.’
    • ‘Depicting a story of war, aggression and greed, he takes a sardonic look at the reality of this entire production.’
    • ‘His latest book, After Britain, is a comparably sardonic performance.’
    • ‘Many sardonic Australians find ways of making a play on these words.’
    • ‘Happy to relate, acrimony is often enhanced by sardonic humour.’
    • ‘It seems to be aiming for a modern Catcher in the Rye with its sardonic, rancorous troubled kid character.’
    • ‘He does have a sardonic streak of humour, which erupts ever so quietly in sporadic bursts.’
    mocking, satirical
    sarcastic, ironical, ironic, cynical, scornful, contemptuous, derisive, derisory, sneering, jeering, scoffing, taunting
    scathing, caustic, trenchant, mordant, cutting, sharp, stinging, acerbic, tart, acid
    wry, dry
    mordacious, acidulous
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century: from French sardonique, earlier sardonien, via Latin from Greek sardonios of Sardinia, alteration of sardanios, used by Homer to describe bitter or scornful laughter.