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[ok-si-mawr-on, -mohr-] /ˌɒk sɪˈmɔr ɒn, -ˈmoʊr-/
noun, plural oxymora
[ok-si-mawr-uh, -mohr-uh] /ˌɒk sɪˈmɔr ə, -ˈmoʊr ə/ (Show IPA),
oxymorons. Rhetoric
a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”.
1650-60; < Late Latin oxymorum < presumed Greek *oxýmōron, neuter of *oxýmōros sharp-dull, equivalent to oxý(s) sharp (see oxy-1) + mōrós dull (see moron)
Related forms
[ok-see-muh-ron-ik] /ˌɒk si məˈrɒn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for oxymoron
  • The truth is that "low-key wedding" is an oxymoron.
  • This proves to me that the buzz term of "a jobless recovery" is an oxymoron.
  • Today we are after that rarer oxymoron: the wisest fool.
  • Most days, the phrase "courtroom humor" is an oxymoron.
  • But that was a fallacy, an oxymoron, that everybody knew.
  • Boy, is that an oxymoron — the college trying to preserve the river shoreline after it built almost on the river's edge.
  • To environmentalists, clean coal is an insulting oxymoron.
  • Since an objective perspective is an oxymoron, any inquiry is inherently subjective to begin with.
  • Makes the term health insurers an oxymoron, sickness securities might be more accurate.
  • There the confounding oxymoron of being both rather primitive yet extremely complicated.
British Dictionary definitions for oxymoron


noun (pl) -mora (-ˈmɔːrə)
(rhetoric) an epigrammatic effect, by which contradictory terms are used in conjunction: living death, fiend angelical
Word Origin
C17: via New Latin from Greek oxumōron, from oxus sharp + mōros stupid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for oxymoron

1650s, from Greek oxymoron, noun use of neuter of oxymoros (adj.) "pointedly foolish," from oxys "sharp" (see acrid) + moros "stupid" (see moron). Rhetorical figure by which contradictory terms are conjoined so as to give point to the statement or expression; the word itself is an illustration of the thing. Now often used loosely to mean "contradiction in terms." Related: Oxymoronic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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oxymoron in Culture
oxymoron [(ok-see-mawr-on)]

A rhetorical device in which two seemingly contradictory words are used together for effect: “She is just a poor little rich girl.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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