Humanities › History & Culture Socratic Irony Definition and Connection to Socratic Method of Teaching Share Flipboard Email Print thegreekphotoholic/Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Greece Figures & Events Ancient Languages Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated February 25, 2019 Socratic irony is a technique used in the Socratic method of teaching. Irony is a communication technique employed when someone says something that conveys a message that contradicts the literal words. In the case of Socratic irony, Socrates might pretend to think his students wise or he might denigrate his own intelligence, as by pretending he doesn't know the answer. According to the article "Socratic irony" in The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (Simon Blackburn. Oxford University Press, 2008), a Socratic irony is "Socrates's irritating tendency to praise his hearers while undermining them, or to disparage his own superior abilities while manifesting them." Someone attempting to use Socratic irony might sound like the old television detective Columbo who always disparaged his own talents to make the suspect think he was an idiot.