What Is an Oxymoron? (Definition)
OxymoronsAn oxymoron is a term in which two contradictory terms are combined.
The term oxymoron is itself an oxymoron as it derives from the Greek oxus (sharp) and moros (stupid). The plural is oxymorons or oxymora.
Easy Examples of Oxymorons
- Act naturally (Acting means you're not being natural.)
- Non-working mother (Being a mother involves a lot of work.)
- Consensual rape (rape: a sexual assault without consent)
More Examples of OxymoronsOften, it is debatable whether the contradictory terms in an oxymoron are truly contradictory. Commonly, they are not. Here are some well-known oxymorons that have only partially contradictory terms.
- dull shine
- female gunman
- jumbo shrimp
- plastic glasses
- Four-ounce pound cake
- Non-prosaic prose (Prosaic is the adjective of prose, which is normal text as opposed to poetry and verse. Non-prosaic prose looks like an oxymoron, but it isn't because prosaic can also mean ordinary, everyday or boring. So, they're just two interesting words that translate, literally, as interesting words.)
Why Should I Care about Oxymorons?Encourage your readers to ponder your concept. Oxymorons are not usually mistakes. The contradictory elements are often deliberate to cause the reader to pause and ponder the concept.
- Deafening silence (This classic oxymoron describes an uncomfortable silence – as uncomfortable as someone screaming. It's a thought-provoking phrase.)