Definition of satire in English:



mass noun
  • 1The use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

    ‘the crude satire seems to be directed at the fashionable protest singers of the time’
    • ‘Tan's mild political satire maintains a wry humour that complements the general comic tone.’
    • ‘Delight, instruction and satire, these are the characteristic traits of the 18th century British sensibility.’
    • ‘There's obviously much in pop culture that deserves satire and critique, for reasons too obvious to enumerate, but it's also part of the electricity of our times.’
    • ‘Its trenchant satire is directed at the creaking institutions of Victorian Britain, the Law above all, but also at a do-nothing government and a self-perpetuating governing class.’
    • ‘Davis pointed to the 2004 election as an opportunity for on-line political satire to grow even more.’
    • ‘Mamet effortlessly packs his story with one-liners, irony and sharp satire as he warmly ribs his own industry and the people that become caught up in it.’
    • ‘While many of the short stories in this collection are part myth and part folklore, most of them have used satire to make a serious point.’
    • ‘Hovering in the twilight zone between satire and ridicule, this medley is both entertaining and an opportunity for a cathartic laugh at troubling issues.’
    • ‘I love to throw some political satire into superhero comics.’
    • ‘Some pointed out the film's emotional power, others its use of irony and satire to criticize fascism.’
    • ‘The plays of Aristophanes, the only classical Athenian comic playwright of whom complete plays still survive, are characterized by their biting social and political satire.’
    • ‘The program often includes comedy sketches, political satire and performances by musicians.’
    • ‘It mixes real social and political satire with cheerleading.’
    • ‘It was a little slow getting started, but by the second act there was political satire and plain silliness aplenty.’
    • ‘Through humour, satire, and a range of experiments with language, the collection offers an oblique commentary on Caribbean society.’
    • ‘Certainly, he made use of all that is available in the repertoire of humour: irony, satire, parody and burlesque.’
    • ‘But I mostly appreciated the book for its great mixture of black humour, satire and teenage rebellion.’
    • ‘Cynicism is best countered by wit and humour, satire and sarcasm.’
    • ‘Occasionally, satire or irony can illuminate a subject in a clever or comic way without leaving you chortling uncontrollably.’
    • ‘Then, of course, he lets loose his own brand of warped satire and humour.’
    mockery, ridicule, derision, scorn, caricature
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1count noun A play, novel, film, or other work which uses satire.
      ‘a stinging satire on American politics’
      • ‘On the side he was a fairly accomplished cartoonist and illustrator and occasionally wrote satires and poems.’
      • ‘Wodehouse's satire of the refined Englishman reinforces the view of Hollywood as a preview of British decline.’
      • ‘The play is to be perceived as a satire on big business, which these piddling rogues try to emulate and, in their puny way, supposedly mirror.’
      • ‘The film is an incisive satire on religion and British society, with the Church of England hierarchy particularly coming in for a skewering.’
      • ‘Even though he has said it isn't a satire of contemporary politics, the novel can be read as such and therein lies its power.’
      • ‘Was it your intention all along for the film to be a satire?’
      • ‘The first season of the local political satire didn't live up to its promise, but it's worth persevering with and an expanded cast and new writers are promised for this new season.’
      • ‘It starts as a satire on small-town America with a bankrupt community gaining prosperity through a fake miracle.’
      • ‘Some of these satires were directed against literary rivals, including Bishop J. Hall, and were burned by order of the archbishop of Canterbury in 1599.’
      • ‘As a satire on Thatcherism, Hare's play is richly effective.’
      • ‘Although set in the future, Owen's play is a satire on our preoccupation with surfaces.’
      • ‘A dark satire on the world of warfare, it's thought-provoking without actually taking sides.’
      • ‘In addition to the portrait of personal indecision that the film presents, it also acts to some extent as a satire on British society of the time.’
      • ‘Like much of its genre, this satire spends so much effort tying itself in rhetorical knots, it almost forgets to make a point.’
      • ‘Although primarily a critique of the subtle exercise of power, Veblen's book gained popularity as a biting satire of upper-class pretensions.’
      • ‘Some would call it a love story set in the future, others would call it a satire on globalisation, some might even call it a dystopic science fiction.’
      • ‘About halfway through, however, the piece moves up a gear, turning into an entertaining satire on tourism that cleverly manipulates its audience while letting us think we're in control.’
      • ‘The movie is a twisted satire on the feel-good genre in which an estranged family member returns to the fold and redeems himself.’
      • ‘The result is a savage satire on hypocrisy, truth-telling and how we can control our brains, but not our hearts.’
      • ‘Here there is a strongly moral agenda to McInerney's satire which suggests a connection between the disordered individual and his degenerate society.’
      parody, burlesque, caricature, lampoon, skit, take-off, squib, travesty
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A genre of literature characterized by the use of satire.
      ‘a number of articles on Elizabethan satire’
      • ‘But Fielding, as astute an observer of social class as Austen, was actually writing satire.’
      • ‘Like both satire and the sentimental, the uncanny as a literary category has been the subject of significant theoretical work.’
      • ‘A period of classicism in the eighteenth century saw the development of political and social satire, comedy, and romanticism.’
      • ‘Opposition is the mode of satire, and the eleven essays on Romantic satire presented here are of a uniformly high quality.’
      • ‘More than chick lit, the novel is literary satire.’
      • ‘In English literature, satire may be held to have begun with Chaucer, who was followed by many 15th-cent. writers, including Dunbar.’
      • ‘Satire requires a degree of authorial detachment to reinforce the appearance of objective criticism in the public sphere.’
      • ‘He was a pioneer in various genres including satire, literary criticism, and drama.’
      • ‘Griffin offers a useful overview of the theoretical consensus about satire that emerged from Yale in the 1960s.’
    3. 1.3count noun (in Latin literature) a literary miscellany, especially a poem ridiculing prevalent vices or follies.
      • ‘I do not regard Jonson's epigram precisely as a parody of Horace's satire - or at least not entirely as such.’
      • ‘For many readers, this moment of unexpected sexual explicitness drives the general grittiness of Horace's satire beyond the pale of propriety.’
      • ‘My evidence for both of these assertions is to be found in a particular Horatian poem: number five in the first book of Horace's satires, commonly referred to as ‘A Journey to Brundisium.’’
      • ‘Horace's satire and Jonson's epigram have proven similarly resistant to efforts at critical appreciation.’


Early 16th century: from French, or from Latin satira, later form of satura ‘poetic medley’.