What Is Oxymoron?
(View all literary devices)
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two opposing terms are put together. A good example is the term “pretty ugly.” You have to think for a minute before realizing that the phrase contains two words that are the exact opposite because chances are that oxymora are such an accepted part of your speech that you’re not even aware of them. Or as Richard Watson Todd puts it, “The true beauty of oxymor[a] is that, unless we sit back and really think, we happily accept them as normal English.”
The term oxymoron comes from the Ancient Greek word oxumoron, which is itself an oxymoron, a combination of “oxus,” meaning sharp, and “moros,” meaning dull.
How Do You Identify Oxymoron in Writing?
Oxymora are very similar to paradoxes. The main difference is that, while a paradox combines two contrasting concepts to illustrate an underlying truth, oxymora do not need to lead to deeper understanding.
Examples of Oxymoron
1. The scene was one of controlled chaos.
2. Just give me the original copy.
3. “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” — Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
4. That taco was awfully good.
5. Glenda’s proposal was met with deafening silence.
6. He’s the most devout atheist I’ve ever met.
7. She was found missing in her parent’s home.
8. Her stash of Halloween candy was growing smaller all the time.
9. That couch is made of genuine imitation leather.
10. That’s a definite maybe.