Saying one thing but meaning the opposite

Wed Nov 12 18:07:10 UTC 2008

        Not to overlook the obvious, but terms that are both sarcastic
and ironic may also be described as sardonic, a word that is suitable
for a general audience.

        It's my understanding that an antiphrasis is always ironic, but
I don't use the term often enough to have any confidence in this

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Joel S. Berson
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 12:36 PM
Subject: Re: Saying one thing but meaning the opposite

At 11/12/2008 12:25 PM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote (and John Baker seconded):
>On Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 12:19 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard
><gcohen at> wrote:
> >
> > Btw, what about humorously calling a tall, powerful man "Tiny"?
>Ooh! Antiphrasis.

Aha!  There is a Greek word, and it's in the OED.  So I could call my
case "ironic (or sarcastic) antiphrasis".  But I don't think I dare use
"antiphrasis" in what I am writing for what I hope will be a large,
general audience.

Now the only Greek word I am (still) looking for (or looking to coin) is
one meaning "a lover of, or collector of, books about religion".  I am
presently going with "threskobibliophile", but I've been told that may
be somewhat off the mark.


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