An event that is strikingly different from or the opposite of what one would have expected, usually producing a sense of incongruity, is ironic: “The sheriff proclaimed a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, but ironically flunked his own test.”

Other striking comings-together of events lacking these qualities are merely coincidental: “the lovers leapt off the tower just as a hay wagon coincidentally happened to be passing below.”

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Common Errors front cover