Although many people likely feel confident they know what irony is and how it might be distinguished from similar concepts, little agreement holds for a specific definition of irony sufficient for scholarly purposes. Indeed, some scholars have dismissed entirely the attempt at defining irony:

I will refrain from engaging in the vain attempt to define irony.

(Bara, 2010, p. 176) Some consistency nonetheless can be found in characteristics scholars have noted for irony, found across various accounts of its nature, comprehension, and usage. Among these are opposition, contradiction, contraindicatedness, contrast, bi-coherence, and related notions of juxtaposed incompatibilities. But the array of forms of irony, and the different mechanisms of creating or exhibiting these oppositions, contradictions, etc., make for great difficulty in settlement of the definitional issue. Accordingly, for present purposes only a brief discussion of some of the terminology used to distinguish a few types of irony will be presented.