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How To Detect Sarcasm

Updated on December 29, 2008

Sarcasm is the act of overstating emotions or interest to statements that seem plain or obvious. It is often used in malice or humorous teasing. Sarcasm is often heavily expressed, but given the circumstances, it can be subtle as well. Phrases such as "duh" or "go figure" are the more obvious signs that a person is being sarcastic, while other phrases could be taken as signs of interest. A sarcastic tone of voice is often very expressive and puts extra emphasis on each word. This type of speech is generally considered to be counter-productive and anti-social behavior. Subtle sarcasm is much harder to detect and can often be mistaken for interest in the original speaker's dialogue. This type of sarcasm is also without regard for the speaker's feelings, but is done in such a way so that the sarcastic party can freely express their annoyance without bringing it to the attention of the original speaker. Sarcasm isn't limited to verbal exchanges, as it can also be conveyed in written or text form. However, it is difficult to both express and interpret sarcasm in this form, because the lack of tone makes it impossible to know the true intention of the writer. Fortunately, through the marvels of modern technology, sarcasm can now be conveyed in text form through the device of emoticons. My, we've sure come a long way (my attemt to inject a little sarcasm into this hub)! Here are a few things to look for when dealing with a sarcastic person:

Over interest: If they act like everything you say radiates knowledge and profound wisdom, then they're probably making fun of you.

Hamming it up: The most obvious sign of someone being sarcastic. Usually over expressed with a ridiculous tone of voice.

The "eye roll": The eyes never lie. This can be consciously or reflexively when making a sarcastic remark.

Contradicting an inquiry with a ridiculous answer: (Example)

Person 1: "Excuse me, do you work here?"

Person 2: "No...I just like wearing bright shirts that say [buisness establishment of choice] and a nametag."


If you think the person you are talking to is being sarcastic, you have the option to either blush and stop talking, change the subject, laugh at the sarcastic remark, express your thoughts on how the sarcasm affects your feelings (note: you should probably prepare yourself for more sarcasm with this option), or find someone else to talk to.


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    • Mahmo profile image


      8 years ago

      great hub. I agree with you !

    • Dink96 profile image


      9 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      Beautiful. You have helped me more than you will ever know. Danke.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, this really helped me! Thank you for clearing up such a complex topic. I hope you continue to enlighten us in the future!

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 

      9 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      This was great! Well done!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Agreed :)

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 

      10 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Great Hub. You really covered this topic well.


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