"Ironic" Versus "Ironical"

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

Mignon Fogarty
Read time: 1-min


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.


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.