A poisonous plant called Herba Sardonia gave the English language the word sardonic and gave the Italian island of Sardinia its name. The island in turn gave English the word sardine, the name for a small fish of the herring family.
   The dictionary defines sardonic as bitter, cynical, scornful. That-which is sardonic has come to mean disdainfully or sneeringly derisive. A sardonic smile is contemptuous. Sardonic laughter, as used by Homer, is bitter, mocking laughter.
   Unfavorable connotations come naturally from the namesake herb, "which renders men insane, so that the sick person seems to laugh." The acrid plant was reputed to be so very bitter as to cause convulsions that distort the face of one who eats it into a grin. But actually the twisted face reflected the throes of death.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sardonic — Sar*don ic, a. [F. sardonique, L. sardonius, Gr. ?, ?, perhaps fr. ? to grin like a dog, or from a certain plant of Sardinia, Gr. ?, which was said to screw up the face of the eater.] Forced; unnatural; insincere; hence, derisive, mocking,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sardonic — SARDÓNIC, Ă, sardonici, ce, adj. (livr.; despre râs, zâmbet etc.; adesea adverbial) Care exprimă batjocură necruţătoare sau satisfacţie diabolică. – Din fr. sardonique, lat. sardonicus [risus]. Trimis de RACAI, 07.12.2003. Sursa: DEX 98 … …   Dicționar Român

  • sardonic — 1630s, from Fr. sardonique (16c.), from L. sardonius (but as if from L. *sardonicus) in Sardonius risus, loan translation of Gk. sardonios (gelos) of bitter or scornful (laughter), altered from Homeric sardanios (of uncertain origin) by influence …   Etymology dictionary

  • sardonic — [sär dän′ik] adj. [Fr sardonique < L sardonius < Gr sardonios, altered after Sardō, SARDINIA] disdainfully or bitterly sneering, ironic, or sarcastic [a sardonic smile] SYN. SARCASTIC sardonically adv. sardonicism [sär dän′ə siz΄əm] n …   English World dictionary

  • Sardonic — Sar*don ic, a. Of, pertaining to, or resembling, a kind of linen made at Colchis. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sardonic — index bitter (reproachful), cynical, disdainful, ironic Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • sardonic — ironic, satiric, *sarcastic Analogous words: *bitter, acrid: deriding or derisive, mocking, taunting, ridiculing (see corresponding verbs at RIDICULE): *sinister, malign …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • sardonic — [adj] sarcastic acerbic, arrogant, biting, bitter, carping, caustic, cynical, derisive, disrespectful, evil, irascible, mean, mocking, mordant, nasty, offensive, salty*, satirical, scorching, scornful, sharp, smart alecky*, sneering, taunting,… …   New thesaurus

  • sardonic — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ grimly mocking or cynical. DERIVATIVES sardonically adverb sardonicism noun. ORIGIN French sardonique, from Greek sardonios of Sardinia , alteration of sardanios, used by Homer to describe bitter or scornful laughter …   English terms dictionary

  • sardonic — [[t]sɑː(r)dɒ̱nɪk[/t]] ADJ GRADED: usu ADJ n If you describe someone as sardonic, you mean their attitude to people or things is humorous but rather critical. He was a big, sardonic man, who intimidated even the most self confident students. ...a… …   English dictionary

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