What does Ironic mean?

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Alanis Morissette: Ironic Meaning

Tagged: Irony [suggest]

Song Released: 1996


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Ironic Lyrics

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It's a black fly in your Chardonnay
It's a death row pardon two minutes too late
And isn't it ironic...dontcha think

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    ccjoelle
    click a star to vote
    May 11th 2006 report

    In a few words, this song is about the irony that our lives reflect sometimes. The two verses that best describe this song are the two last verses “life has a funny way of sneaking up on you […] life has a funny way of helping you out.” The term “life” repeated five times in this song, exhibits the strong relation that this song has with the expectations we have towards our lives. We constantly encounter situations were we expect certain things to happen, and unfortunately the opposite hit us: Irony of our Fate. It is like God amusing himself by playing and manipulating our lives.
    The lyrics are basically examples of circumstances that one can encounter through his life. These examples are completed by some thoughtful ideas at the end of every couplet and especially in the bridge. For instance, when she mentions the sentence” who would’ve thought it figures “in the chorus.
    This sentence shows clearly that these events were totally unexpected and unpredictable.

    An important issue I would like to point at is that this song makes me think. It is in a way a philosophical song since it deals with life and what we expect from it. I love this song for its way of throwing life in our faces. It forces reconsideration of the old adage 'Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.' Indeed ,I would find it difficult to believe the old man did not wish for winning the lottery, the customer did not wish for a neat chardonnay, or that any woman does not wish to meet the man of their dreams.
    All of these characters receive what they think they want, but aren't able to enjoy it. So this song might also aim to question if we really wish to have what we think we want. This issue certainly makes me think and that might be the real reason I like it so much. I love the rare songs that provoke thought. This song challenges me to question what I think and why I think the way I do, which is how I grow.

    The term Ironic, mentioned five times in this song (when not implied!) is very important to define. There has been a debate over whether Morissette conveys the correct meaning of the word in this song. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition, irony means: “Incongruity between what is expected and what actually occurs”. Actually, if we look at the examples she gives, and based on this official definition; we cannot state that all the examples mentioned in the song are ironic. She seems to have gotten ironic events mixed up with misfortune or bad luck. For example, the “free ride when you've already paid” or the “no-smoking sign on your cigarette break” are ironic events whereas the “old man who won the lottery and died the next day” and the “rain on your wedding day” are more considered as unfortunate events. Whether she was knowingly using the word in the incorrect sense or not, let's face it - the song just would no't have the same attractive effect if it had been called "Unlucky", would it?


    In my opinion, this is a good song in many ways. It's got a story, good feeling and great music especially with the explosion of the word "rain" in every refrain in addition to the sarcastic emotion of the line "a little too ironic.”. it can be considered as an emotional release when heard, as well as a reflection of culture with the notion of “irony of our fate” and finally, it arises from personal taste: a contemporary pop/rock music style attractive to the new generation of teenagers.

  2. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 16th 2015 report

    This song is about how life can kick you in the ass just as you think everything is going your way. You're just ready to take the trip of your life and step out of your comfort zone, and your plane crashes. You're pardoned from death row too late. You die right after the luckiest moment of your life happens. Life has a funny way of making you realize just how far away from complete fulfillment you are, and it's humbling. Great song by Alanis Morrisette.

  3. Nicole Brady
    click a star to vote
    Sep 30th 2011 report

    Isn't it ironic when this song suppose to be ironic but it actually isn't?!?!

    But.. in my opinion, there is a few irony examples:-

    "An Old man turned 98, he won the lottery and died the next day"

    "Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
    He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
    He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
    And as the plane crashed down he thought
    'isn't this nice?'"

  4. fastfordfocus
    click a star to vote
    Dec 4th 2008 report

    Well,
    I've probably listened to this song about 12,000 times now.
    For years, I had no idea at all what it meant. Today, though, as I'm running around talking to lawyers to finish the paper work on my third divorce, it's starting to become clear to me.
    The underlying message of this song is a rather deep one. It's calls on us to forget past misgivings and move courageously forward into a new day. She's trying to tell us not be afraid, but rather, to go on and find power in knowing that life is painful, short and brutish.
    I think that the greatest irony of all is that irony, as it's mentioned in this song, is actually just a tool she uses to describe the nature of man to reach out for meaning and coincidence in such a bleak, random universe. There is no ultimate truth, which is the meaning behind the words "it's a free ride, when you've already paid." Why would they charge you if the ride is free? This also refers to the general dishonesty you are certain to encounter in your aimless travels.
    I used to love this song, but now, every time I hear it, I just want to crawl in a hole and die.


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