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Sarcastic vs Cynical - what's the difference?
#1  gollu 01-02-2010, 07:59 AM
Can someone explain what's the difference (and the similarities) between "sarcastic" and "cynical"?
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#2  Patricia 01-02-2010, 08:11 AM
My favourite English teacher at college said that sarcasm is biting: it aims to put down the person it is directed at. Cynicism is a world-view which reflects a jaded and misanthropic outlook at life. So sarcasm is aimed at people, and cynicism at situations.

This person seems to think along the same lines:
http://gaffneyjournal.blogspot.com/2009/08/humor-sarcasm-cynicism.html
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#3  pdurrant 01-02-2010, 08:22 AM
Quote gollu
Can someone explain what's the difference (and the similarities) between "sarcastic" and "cynical"?
Well, IMO:

Sarcasm is the expression of a viewpoint in a way that indicates that it's the opposite of one's real opinion, often by tone of voice.

Cynicism is the expectation that people will only act in their own self-interest, no matter what they say their actions will be. Or that events will not turn out as well as other may say that they will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcasm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynicism

seems to agree with my defintitions.

Oh - and sarcastic is "having the character of sarcasm" and cynical is similarly related to cynicism.

Miriam Webster does a good definition if cynical "contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives"
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#4  Patricia 01-02-2010, 10:31 AM
Quote pdurrant
Sarcasm is the expression of a viewpoint in a way that indicates that it's the opposite of one's real opinion, often by tone of voice.

Cynicism is the expectation that people will only act in their own self-interest, no matter what they say their actions will be. Or that events will not turn out as well as other may say that they will.
Hm. I was taught that irony was saying more, less, or the direct opposite of what was intended. Also that egoism is the belief that people act in their own self-interest. Certainly, Thomas Hobbes, in his Leviathan, uses egoism to mean the pursuit of self-interest; suggesting that it is the main motivation of human beings.
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#5  6charlong 01-02-2010, 11:14 AM
It made a curious wordplay when a US journalist in a piece about the so-called Patriot Act writes: “It was hard not to think he was being sarcastic when George Bush called himself the leader of the Free World.” The use of sarcasm to express cynicism.
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#6  dsvick 01-02-2010, 12:02 PM
Quote Patricia
Hm. I was taught that irony was saying more, less, or the direct opposite of what was intended.
Irony isn't always related to speach or intent like sarcasm is, for example, getting run over and killed by an ambulance would be ironic. With that being said I think it's pretty a blurry line between intentionally saying something sarcastic and something ironic - at least it is blurry to me.
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#7  nekokami 01-02-2010, 11:46 PM
"Sarcasm" is derived from a Latin root meaning "to rend flesh," I believe, isn't it? I think it isn't merely speaking with irony or saying the opposite of what is meant, but doing so in a way intended specifically to hurt or belittle another person.

My definition of a cynic is "a wounded idealist."
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#8  WT Sharpe 01-03-2010, 04:11 AM
From an expert:
CharlieBrownSarcasm.jpg 
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#9  lene1949 01-03-2010, 04:44 AM
English is my second language, and sometimes I use my 'Danish' sense of the ridiculous. I often get into trouble... even on forums...
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#10  pdurrant 01-03-2010, 05:37 AM
Quote dsvick
Irony isn't always related to speach or intent like sarcasm is, for example, getting run over and killed by an ambulance would be ironic.
Or as recently happened, breaking into someone's home with the intent of murdering them, because they depicted your religion as one encouraging terrorism...
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