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Figures of Speech – Oxymoron: Definition and examples

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Whoever finds English an exciting language to learn, will be familiar with the word ‘Oxymoron’. Oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two contradictory or inappropriate terms are either put together or appear side by side.

The origin of the word ‘oxymoron’ can be traced back to two Greek words ‘oxy’ which means ‘sharp’ and ‘moros’ meaning ‘dull’. Widely used in English language, oxymorons are completely understood by the readers though they are combinations of the contradictory.

You can even find a long list of oxymorons in our day to day conversations such as ‘passive aggression’ and ‘pretty ugly’. Appearing in a variety of other contexts, including in unintended errors, oxymorons can make you laugh as they tend to produce some of the most hilarious statements you can ever come across. This concept is also used as pun or as a paradox to highlight a contradiction.

Oxymorons are also used for editorial comments, for ideological or political purposes. However, irrespective of their usage, oxymorons can add humour to serious conversations. Poets and writers use oxymorons to create puns and to add a sense of humour to their work. They are used to highlight certain qualities, ideas or to confuse readers. Read on to know more examples of oxymorons.

Examples of Oxymoron 

 

Oxymoron-Much
Examples of Funny Oxymoron

  • Appear invisible
  • Angry relief
  • Awfully nice
  • Accurate estimate
  • Act naturally
  • All alone
  • Born dead
  • Bad luck
  • Big baby
  • Clearly confused
  • Clearly misunderstood
  • Current history
  • Controlled chaos
  • Climb down
  • Confirmed rumor
  • Constant change
  • Deliberate mistake
  • Dry lake
  • Exact estimate
  • Exact opposite
  • Eloquent peace
  • Expressive silence
  • Found missing
  • Fully empty
  • Falsely true
  • Fuzzy logic
  • Farewell reception
  • Genuine imitation
  • Genuinely fake
  • Growing small
  • Incredibly real
  • Incredibly common
  • Incredibly dull
  • Known secret
  • Liquid gas
  • Little giant
  • Least favorite
  • Living dead
  • Mercy killing
  • Modern history
  • Mournful optimist
  • Numb sensation
  • Objective opinion
  • Plastic glasses
  • Practical Joke
  • Preliminary conclusion
  • Pointedly stupid
  • Painful pride
  • Random pattern
  • Science fiction
  • Small crowd
  • Speed limit
  • Suicide victim
  • Stationary Orbit
  • Terribly good
  • Timeless moment
  • True story
  • Typically unusual
  • Undesirable attraction
  • Unsung hero
  • Virtual reality
  • Vegetarian meatball

Examples of Oxymoron in Quotes

 

  • “I can resist anything, except temptation.”
  • “Simplicity is not a simple thing.”
  • “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
  • “To lead the people, walk behind them.”
  • “Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history”
  • “Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use.”
  • “The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”
  • “Always be sincere, even when you don’t mean it.”
  • “If I could drop dead right now, I’d be the happiest man alive.”
  • “The building was pretty ugly and a little big for its surroundings.”

Examples of Oxymoron in Sentences and Phrases

  • His novel created a mild sensation in literary circles.
  • Always remember that you are unique, just like everyone else.
  • The silence was deafening.
  • Feather of lead
  • Moving statue
  • Non-violent restraint
  • Cold heat
  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Icy fire
  • Rough embrace
  • Clearly misunderstood
  • Alone in a crowd
  • Found missing
  • Gallons of dehydrated water
  • Long wait
  • Active retirement
  • Advanced beginner
  • Brief survey
  • Act naturally
  • Boneless ribs
  • Warm glacier
  • Quiet scream
  • Friendly enemy
  • Soft rock
  • Working vacation
  • Troubled paradise
  • Terrible nice
  • Calculated risk
  • Sweet sorrow
  • Singular relationship
  • Calculated guess
  • Calculated spontaneity
  • Detailed summary
  • Virtual reality
  • Brief journey

Examples of Oxymoron in Literature

  • Oxymoron in William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’
    ‘O brawling love! O loving hate! . . .
    O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
    Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
    Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
    Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
    This love feel I, that feel no love in this.’
  • ‘A yawn may be defined as a silent yell’, is another example of oxymoron by G. K Chesterton
  • ‘I like a smuggler. He is the only honest thief’, by Charles Lamp
  • ‘No light, but rather darkness rather visible’, by John Milton
  • Oxymoron in Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Petrach’s 134th sonnet
    ‘I find no peace, and all my war is done
    I fear and hope, I burn and freeze like ice,
    I flee above the wind, yet can I not arise;
    And nought I have and all the world I season. ‘
  • Oxymoron in William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’
    ‘I will bestow him, and will answer well
    The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
    I must be cruel, only to be kind:
    Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.
    One word more, good lady.’
  • Oxymoron in Alexander Pope’s ‘An Essay on Criticism’
    ‘The bookful blockhead ignorantly read,
    With loads of learned lumber in his head,
    With his own tongue still edifies his ears,
    And always list’ning to himself appears.’

As said above, oxymorons are used in conversations either by mistake or we deliberately add them for fun. They provide a comical twist to a sentence when observed closely. They add a specific flavour to a sentence or phrase, making it attractive and forceful. Most of the times, we use this concept without actually realizing its existence. However, irrespective of how funny you think they are, oxymorons form an integral part of all languages and can be easily found in our day to day conversation.

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