Oxymoron – a simple paradox?


I have always been amused by the many possibilities of playing with words in order to give them new meanings. Therefore, when a new way revealed itself for me in the movie “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” my head started spinning in the search for new, so called, oxymorons. The movie´s main character, 9-year old Oskar, is regularly having “oxymoron wars” that could be described as intelligent fights. Here´s a clip from the movie to give you an idea of how it works:

The idea of the oxymoron itself is quite simple. You just have to combine two contradictive words, most commonly an adjective and a noun, such as deafening silence or open secret. A cool fact about oxymoron is that the word itself is an oxymoron, where in Greek, “oxy” means sharp and “moron” means dull. The oxymoron has been used for a very long time in literature and Shakespeare is one of many authors to use it repeatedly in his texts, for example in this piece from Romeo and Juliet:

“O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!
Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!”

The decision of what is and what is not an oxymoron is often very personal and can depend on what meanings two words are carrying for that specific person. Because of that, oxymorons are an excellent way to express sarcasm. One of my personal favorites in that category, and as an Apple fan, is of course “Microsoft Works”. Another discovery I did when researching on oxymorons is when looking at the spelling of the word “monopoly”, which split up is “mono” meaning one and “poly” meaning many. Quite contradictive to what it is supposed to mean. However, my absolute favorite is “good morning”. For me, as definitely not a morning person, there is not that many “good mornings”…

Which oxymoron is your favorite? Can you come up with your own ones?
Here´s a list for some inspiration. And by the way, how many oxymorons did you see in this text?


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