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[par-uh-doks] /ˈpær əˌdɒks/
a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
a self-contradictory and false proposition.
any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.
an opinion or statement contrary to commonly accepted opinion.
1530-40; < Latin paradoxum < Greek parádoxon, noun use of neuter of parádoxos unbelievable, literally, beyond belief. See para-1, orthodox
Related forms
paradoxical, paradoxal, adjective
paradoxology, noun
3. puzzle, anomaly, riddle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for paradoxes
  • Modern physics, with its paradoxes and uncertainties, emerged from the study of the interaction of matter and light.
  • The article on the paradoxes of celebrity points to the consequences and responsibilities of our lives.
  • Its hopes are not exempt from paradoxes and contradictions.
  • While paradoxes abound over the notion of infinity, they reflect our counterintuitive discomfort with the idea.
  • Only this redeeming x factor justifies all the rest-the paradoxes and inconsistencies, to be sure, and even the hypocrisy.
  • Laws governing marijuana became exposed for their paradoxes.
  • It's an approach that accounts for a lot of paradoxes and self-contradictions in her taste.
  • He likes defiant, enigmatic paradoxes and pregnant parables that never quite close, perhaps by design.
  • There may be some ways to sort through these mind-bending paradoxes, but for now this is but a small step in the right direction.
  • It's so fascinating, so full of paradoxes and coincidences and twists and turns.
British Dictionary definitions for paradoxes


a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement that is or may be true: religious truths are often expressed in paradox
a self-contradictory proposition, such as I always tell lies
a person or thing exhibiting apparently contradictory characteristics
an opinion that conflicts with common belief
Derived Forms
paradoxical, adjective
paradoxically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin paradoxum, from Greek paradoxos opposed to existing notions, from para-1 + doxa opinion
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 paradoxes



1530s, "statement contrary to common belief or expectation," from Middle French paradoxe (14c.) and directly from Latin paradoxum "paradox, statement seemingly absurd yet really true," from Greek paradoxon, noun use of neuter of adjective paradoxos "contrary to expectation, incredible," from para- "contrary to" (see para- (1)) + doxa "opinion," from dokein "to appear, seem, think" (see decent). Meaning "statement that is seemingly self-contradictory yet not illogical or obviously untrue" is from 1560s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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paradoxes in Medicine

paradox par·a·dox (pār'ə-dŏks')
That which is apparently, though not actually, inconsistent with or opposed to the known facts in any case.

par'a·dox'i·cal adj.
par'a·dox'i·cal·ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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paradoxes in Culture

paradox definition

A statement that seems contradictory or absurd but is actually valid or true. According to one proverbial paradox, we must sometimes be cruel in order to be kind. Another form of paradox is a statement that truly is contradictory and yet follows logically from other statements that do not seem open to objection. If someone says, “I am lying,” for example, and we assume that his statement is true, it must be false. The paradox is that the statement “I am lying” is false if it is true.

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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