Professional writer who writes for a living at the Tacoma News Tribune, Cheryl Tucker, sure is pleased to use “ironic” wrongly. From her post about how she feels that it’s ironic that Tacoma Teachers want to get paid, “(And I’m sure some teacher will write in to tell me that I’m misusing “irony.” Go tell it to Alanis Morrisette).”

First, super current. Great job keeping up with the zeitgeist. Second, I’m going to have to take a pass on mocking the obvious disdain for teachers: I could just do posts making fun of editorial writers’ disdain for teachers, but there are only so many jokes, and they would quickly get as stale as an Alanis Morrisette joke in 2011.

All that aside, it’s the calling things ironic at all that bugs me. Not so much for the getting it wrong, but that it’s completely unnecessary. If you just describe the thing you think is ironic, and then it turns out not to be ironic, you’ve told an interesting (hopefully) story, and you don’t look the fool. If your story turned out to be ironic, well, congrats on telling a story where irony was a factor, that didn’t need to spell it out for your audience. I mean it’s not like when Romeo is killing himself at the end of the play that he says, “it sure would be ironic if Juliet was still alive” because fuck that, it would be terrible. I guess what I’m saying is why can’t everyone on the Internet write as well as the Bard?

But I’m not just here to criticize meta uses of literary devices and references from the early 1990’s. I’m also here to help. So here’s a list of things you might say instead of “ironic” when you still feel the need to describe a thing, but perhaps you’d like to do so a bit more accurately or interestingly:

  • Interesting
  • Coincidental
  • Poetic justice*
  • Hypocritical
  • Silly
  • Odd
  • Amusing
  • Strange
  • Funny (ha ha)
  • Funny (the other kind)

* Yes, poetic justice has a specific meaning that most people don’t know. But at least there will be more variety in words that people get wrong. So yippee for that!


  1. 1

    Michael spews:

    But then, why should they? The teachers had no expectation that a strike might be a financial hit – unlike members of private-sector unions who actually forfeit pay when they walk the picket lines. They knew they’d get paid no matter how long they were out on strike because state law mandates the length of the school year.

    Read more:

    She’s stretching the truth a bit here. While teachers do get paid for a 180 year, they don’t get paid for days they don’t work.

    And for the record, I didn’t think the Tacoma Teachers should have walked out. They have very legitimate issues with the district, but they didn’t seem like the kinds of things that could be successfully resolved by striking.

  2. 3

    notme spews:

    The News Tribune busted its own unions years ago and has become increasingly critical of them ever since.

    The best part of this story of the aftermath of the Tacoma teacher’s strike was the school district’s looney tunes public position that it would violate state law to pay the teachers for days they hadn’t worked on the regular October 5 payday. They would instead be paid for the strike days on the October 20 payday. They still wouldn’t have made up the strike days by October 20, but according to the district this magical state law (which was never cited) would allow them to be paid on that date. No wonder the teachers suspected this was retaliation. The district turned to the usually pliant Brian Sonntag for help but even his office told them they were full of it and to just pay the teachers.

  3. 4

    rhp6033 spews:

    Lots of union workers end up getting paid for most of their lost pay when the contract is finally signed. It’s generally called a “signing bonus”.

    If the company is serious about wanting to get the workers back to work, they usually agree to throw that into the mix at the end of negotiations to “sweeten” the deal. They know that workers who are beginning to feel the strains of lost pay will have a hard time passing up such a “bonus”, so they will be more inclined to accept the proposed contract. This is a usual feature of Boeing/IAM contracts when there is a strike.

    It’s always curious when the media insists that workers shouldn’t strike because it somehow hurts the company (school district), the customers (students), or the local economy. Bargaining takes both sides, and a strike is always the last resort for the union. This strike could have been avoided by the school district agreeing, during the summer, to the very contract which they were ultimately forced to sign when the teachers struck. It seems to me that the administrators and school board are trying to cover up for their mistake in trying to take a hard line by shifting the blame on the teachers, with the assistance of anti-union newspapers.

    Also, although all sides insist it’s “all about the students”, that’s not entirely true. Many parents weren’t so much upset that the students were losing class time as they were being inconvenienced by the strike. Parents were having to take days off work because the kids were home, or alternate day care had to be arranged. Parents were looking at an extended school year and wondering what that would do to their planned vacation trips to Maui for mid-winter break, or Disneyland in the early summer.