Incongruity: Definition & Use In Irony

The definition of incongruity is when something doesn’t fit in the place. In simple words, it means out of place. Something is referred to as incongruent when it stands out from everything else that surrounds it. The extreme point of incongruity is where something, at a point, gets inappropriate to the situation. Some simple examples of such a situation is a cat attending a dog’s birthday party or a pacifist attending a meeting conducted by the War Lovers on their topic. The term inappropriate stands as a synonym to the term incongruity.

The incongruity of something is often viewed in regards to the strangeness of certain things when assessed within the horizon of a particular situation. The term can be used in the formal and the informal aspects as well. Inconsistency, discrepancy and disparity are some of the other synonyms that fit in.

Humor and Incongruity

Cognitive researchers propose that humorous comments involve some incongruence in their context. It may be unusual, surprising or even odd.

Author Koestler had attempted to explain in his book the Act-of-Creation (published in 1964) that the cognitive mechanisms present in the humor concepts has the base of incongruity. Clearly, the presence of incongruity in humor is a story that is centuries old.

Koestler’s Explanation and More Theories

As discussed above, Koestler was one of the very few authors to have discovered the blend of humor and incongruity. However, his theory is an incomprehensive one.

These two frames of references do not fit in all circumstances. He claims that though the occurrence of unexpected, odd surprising events is required, it is however, not sufficient to make the situation a humorous one.

Incongruity and Irony

While incongruity is the lack of congruence, irony may actually mean the opposite. This combination of incongruity in irony, if not explained in the literal intention, can become humorous. Incongruity is one of the four techniques of satire. As such, the term could be used to define absurd in certain surroundings.

More researches have been conducted to define incongruity in the aspects of various concepts, primarily in humor. The degree of match and mismatch in the related schema has been assessed in the formal and the informal situations, or both. In the professional enterprise world, incongruity in the products or services is not usually welcomed by the customers. This is the case specific in the market related activities.

All in all, incongruence is used in literature more than in any other realm, as it aptly portrays the awkwardness of a situation, place or set of opinions in relation to the general scheme of things.