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"Ironic" Versus "Ironical"

Grammar Girl answers a reader's question about the difference between "ironic" and "ironical."

By
Mignon Fogarty,

 

Highway Star asked about ironic versus ironical.

ironic or ironical

 

Ironical is a standard word—it is an alternative adjective form of irony—but it means the same thing as ironic.

Ironical is the more old-fashioned form of the word, and ironic is the more common form today. You can choose to use either one, but as Highway Star's question shows, people are more likely to look at you funny if you use ironical.

Ironical is more common in Britain than in America, so that may be why it shows up in the work of English writer Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.

James Bond image from Shutterstock.

 

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