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Typically, the expression of one's intended meaning through language which, taken literally, appears on the surface to express the opposite—usually for humorous effect. The intended meaning is not in the message itself: the audience has to refer to context cues (for instance, nonverbal signals) in order to interpret its modality status (as literal, ironic, or a lie). Where only some members of the audience are able to identify the intended meaning, it can be seen as a form of narrowcasting. In rhetoric, it is a figure of speech and in semiotics, a kind of double sign (see double coding). Understatement and overstatement can also be ironic. Irony is a characteristic stylistic feature of postmodernism. See also dramatic irony.

Subjects: Literature.

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