Irony and Examples Throughout History


What is irony and how has it affected us throughout history?

Irony is the expression on one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. It is also a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result. Another definition for iron is that it is a literary technique, originally used in Greek tragedy, by which the full significance of a character’s words or actions are clear to the audience or reader although unknown to the character.

There are many times throughout history that a bit of irony has come in to play. For example: The discover of gunpowder: When ancient Chinese tribes found gunpowder for the first time, they clearly didn’t know what it was. There are journals and notes from that first discover, and the lead scientist called the powder “an elixir of immortality” – which is highly ironic considering it has led to more death than any other substance. Lead poisoning is super ironic. In 1974, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission ordered that lapel buttons be printed to promote toy safety. Despite that, those buttons were recalled for using lead paint, being too sharp around the edges, and being a choking hazard for children who swallowed the clip.

James Dean, the teenage heartthrob, made many political and professional statements about the trouble with driving cars fast, mostly aimed at teenage fans, but he subsequently ended up making the biggest sacrifice with his life when he was killed in a car crash while driving too fast. The rotary printing press was an invention created by William Bullock. It changed the world, but before that happened, hos own invention killed him before he could even see the results of all of his hard work. One of the biggest ironies of them all was the First World War: H.G. Wells names WWI – after he called it “the war that will end war.” Nonetheless, it was actually the war that started all of the wars and created many of the modern problems that we have today. It was also just a preparation to the deadlier WWII.

The JFK Assassination was a ball of irony. Just before he was shot and killed, a man said to President John F. Kennedy, “Mr. President you can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you.” It appeared that maybe not everyone in Dallas love the charismatic man. In 1925, The New York Times declared that crossword puzzles weren’t going to catch on, and that people would get bored of doing them on a weekly basis. Today, The New York Times is regarded as the gold standard for crossword puzzles, and publishes a new one every day. The U.S. government introduced the Kudzu vine into the ecosystem in the 1930’s to prevent soil erosion. The recommended that they should be planted everywhere and everyone should plant the vine. Subsequently, instead of helping, it chokes trees and plants that it grows near, and climbs buildings, destroying foundations. That’s pretty ironic don’t you think?

The Beatles sort of beat the odds when it came to becoming famous after being told they weren’t good enough to be singers. On January 1, 1962, four men name John, Paul, George, and Ringo auditioned at Decca Records, performing fifteen songs in just under an hour. Famous producer of the time Mike Smith said that they were nothing special and flat out refused to sign them. The group for the next audition they played, and went on to become The Beatles. One big ironic thing in history are the cane toads and cane beetles. When Australia introduced the cane toad to their land, they hoped it would stop the overpopulation of the cane beetle. Alternatively, they started a whole new infestation: cane toads. That infestation did more damage that the cane beetle ever did. That is just super ironic.

The flying glider was thought to be something that would revolutionize travel. Otto Lilienthal, creator of a flying glider, was killed by his own invention after declaring that it was one of the safest ways to travel, and would be safer that horse and buggy, or even foot. Clearly his ambitions were a little off. Slaves and the US Constitution was one big irony. The denial of rights to slave via Bill of Rights, when in 1856 the U.S. Supreme Court determines that the 5th Amendment preserved the rights of slaveholders to keep slaves. Another big one was George Bush and 9/11. George W. Bush and his administration handled the Middle East using the military after 9/11, stating that only through American power could the Middle East achieve freedom and democracy. The President was clearly just a bit off on this one.

Some more irony for you: John Wayne and Errol Flynn were both such popular screen warrior and adventurers, yet they never served in the armed forces. Alfred Nobel was known for the Nobel Peace Prize fame, but he also invented dynamite. The multitude of incredible links between the careers, lives, and assassinations on President’s Kennedy and Lincoln. The building holding the patent to the fire hydrant burned down in 1836. Now nobody knows who invented it. Barry Manilow’s 1976 hit ‘I Write The Songs,’ was written by Bruce Johnson. Union General John Sedgwick was shot and killed moments after standing from the his trench and telling his men to stand because Confederate soldiers ‘couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.’ Gary Kremen, the founder of, lost his girlfriend to a man she met on John Morales, an actor who played McGruff The Crime Dog, was imprisoned for possessing 1,000 pot plants and a grenade launcher. A man once drowned at a pool party that was celebrating a year with no drowning’s at a New Orleans pool. There were even a hundred lifeguards on duty at the time. So much irony in the world. Hope this makes you smile.

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