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Humour et al.

From H.W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (second edition, revised by Sir Ernest Gowers, © Oxford University Press 1968):

humour, wit, satire, sarcasm, invective, irony, cynicism, the sardonic. So much has been written upon the nature of some of these words, and upon the distinctions between pairs or trios among them (wit and humour, sarcasm and irony and satire), that it would be both presumptuous and unnecessary to attempt a further disquisition. But a sort of tabular statement may be of service against some popular misconceptions. No definition of the words is offered, but for each its motive or aim, its province, its method or means, and its proper audience, are specified. The constant confusion between sarcasm, satire, and irony, as well as that now less common between wit and humour, seems to justify this mechanical device of parallel classification; but it will be of use only to those who wish for help in determining which is the word that they really want. See also satire.

humour Discovery Human nature Observation The sympathetic
wit Throwing light Words and ideas Surprise The intelligent
satire Amendment Morals and manners Accentuation The self-satisfied
sarcasm Inflicting pain Faults and foibles Inversion Victim and bystander
invective Discredit Misconduct Direct statement The public
irony Exclusiveness Statement of facts Mystification An inner circle
cynicism Self-justification Morals Exposure of nakedness The respectable
The sardonic Self-relief Adversity Pessimism Self

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