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Oxymoron Definition

In the easiest way, we can remember the oxymoron as the two words or phrases, used in the sentence that can have or atleast may look like having opposite meanings but should always make sense.

For example here are a few sentences:

  • Foster care took his kid away just so that they could give it back later to his mom.
  • During the nineteenth era, most scholars used to study medieval science as an oxymoron subject.

There is a chance that in the beginning, you may feel like oxymorons are really illogical but later it will make perfect sense.

Oxymoron seems a very simple concept yet can be confusing and that is why it can better be understood with the help of examples.

What is an Oxymoron?

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that puts opposite words together in such a manner that it all makes a complete meaningful sentence. In terms of literature, it plays a very important role, it can be utilized to make new different word combinations by provoking to stand out.

Oxymoron Definition

The word -oxymoron" was first used in the Latin-influenced Greek word, -oxymorun" in Maurus Servius Honoratus in nearly 400 AD. It is made up of two words -oksus" which means sharp, keen, pointed, etc, and Moros which means dull, stupid, and foolish. They both combine as Sharp-dull, Keenly stupid, or even pointedly foolish. And thus the meaning proves that oxymoron itself is autological and is also an oxymoron.

Oxymorons are being used for a long time period and in current words, more than a few words are becoming very common and are being used into day to day life. A few important examples of these words are as follows:

  • Your dress selection is awfully good
  • Yesterday I ate a dish which was bitterly sweet.
  • You should climb down the mountain.
  • It was a very close distance from the lion that day.
  • That child grows smaller than others.
  • This is your only option.
  • This dress is an original copy of a designer dress.
  • There is the same difference as it was before.
  • That joke was seriously funny.
  • There was only a small crowd at the event.
  • These days society is living in virtual reality.

What is the Main Purpose of Oxymorons?

In the current world, there are various literary devices which are such as metaphor, onomatopoeia as well as hyperbole which make oxymorons and also have many various purposes in writing, in which all are only correct when used in a correct way or condition.

Dramatic Effects

As this process is completely contradictory, oxymoron always increases critical as well as creative thinking and stands out perfectly. When an oxymoron word is used, it is important that it makes the people think when they read and also read very carefully. Most oxymorons always have a dense and deep meaning and stay in the head of the reader for more than expected time. So if someone is using them to get much attention for users, there is very less chance that they will fail. Also, it gives the language a "figurative" turn and brings power to other words as well.


Oxymorons are generally presented in such a way that it seems very clever as well as funny and thus it is a perfect opportunity. For a very long while it has been observed that comedians usually use oxymoron words and make really funny and great jokes with other witty lines. For example when Mr. Andy Warhol said that he was deeply superficial or when Clara Barton said, I closely remember forgetting anything.

In New Words, It is been Presented in New Ways

When you try to place two opposite words altogether, not only does it look much more beautiful but also highlights each other more like two colors kept together. This also helps in highlighting all the differences and showing how strong it seems together and thus it is a very strong choice for the user. For example, you can choose the word silent, silent is a complete word and can be used in various manners to define something calm or not make any sort of noise but when you decide to use it with defeat, it provides a completely different meaning.

Comical Oxymoron

Have you ever wondered, when an oxymoron is used in comics how it affects the sentence? For many centuries, Oxymoron is used in various comic sentences and is known as a comical oxymoron, or firstly known as the opinion oxymoron by Lederer in 1990. When those assumptions which are sometimes made up of controversy or even at least don't have no evidence take a sense of humor and that is why it is a part of the lexicon. The very best example of this comical oxymoron is educational television, all the sense of humor is derived from the claims that it is an oxymoron due to the belief that television is the opposite of education, knowledge, and even not a good habit but later on, there is various example of such shows which proved themselves as very well educated and teaching and an intelligent liberal.

In 1975, a very popular comedian George Carlin used a part of Comical Oxymoron in his play "Military Intelligence" which has the use of Military and intelligence and another word "business ethics" which have two completely different words but play a very important role in the success of each other.

Another example is the term "Civil War" where the word "War" is kind of opposite to the word "Civil" and that is why the word Civil War is considered a joke.

In a similar context, the use of "Honest Politician", "act Naturally", "Happily Married" and many others which we use together and make a completely weird and different but sense full context are examples of such oxymorons words.

Antonym Pairs

There are some oxymorons that have completely opposite pairs like "Good and bad", "men and women", and "greater and small" which are very much used in our daily life and make sense and sometimes there may be a chance that they are used for some objects but not have opposite properties. In some languages other than English, it is also possible that not every conjunction is not always opposite to each other, for example In the grammar of Sanskrit like and between, and other conjunctions are known as Dvandvas and are not opposite. In the Chinese language, yin and Yang (man and women), (good and bad ) and furthermore such words are mostly utilized to showcase the coupled and never preferred as opposite but mostly enhance the use of each other similarly in Italian there are a lot of examples of an oxymoron like soft and loud and more but overall from centuries, there are a lot of examples of the use of oxymoron and can help to make language better and much interesting.

Various Examples of Oxymorons in English Literature

Within the different kinds of literature, there are various examples of oxymorons, and even in stage plays, there are speeches that use Oxymorons in political speeches. The best uses of such speeches are in Romeo and Juliet written by the most popular author of English Willian Shakespeare, in which the theme is like combining different contracts of things are there.

For example,

The use of contrast in -O brawling love! O loving hate!"

And also in the sentence "A damned saint, an honorable villain!"

-William Shakespeare, Romeo, and Juliet

What is Paradox and what is the Difference between Oxymoron and Paradox?

People usually get confused between the use of Oxymorons as well as Paradoxes and why they shouldn't when they both are frequently used and have similar words. But no matter how many similarities it has, they both are two different words and have their own special uses in the literature.

Firstly let's understand what Paradox is, as It is a statement that is technically opposite from each other and still stays true itself. Sometimes it completely seems illogical or unrealistic but when it seems much closer, it is based on true reality and has a very specific reason for the use. On the other hand, An oxymoron is a specific figure of speech that is used to combine two opposite words with opposite meanings such as "defeating silence" or "organized chaos".

The biggest difference between an Oxymoron and a Paradox is that Oxymorons are themselves opposite whereas the idea behind using Paradox is opposite. Also in the oxymorons, there is only a use of two opposite words whereas Paradoxes can be either statements or even sometimes can be an entire full paragraph.

Oxymorons usually deal with the combination of opposite meanings of two different words but paradoxes are mainly focused on the combinations of complete ideas. And thus the use and importance of paradox is much more dense, based on very complicated themes as well as Philosophical concepts. But things are not the same for oxymoron as it has a limit due to the use of Individual words.

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