Definition of oxymoron in US English:



  • A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true).

    • ‘He is a man who, when he was pillaging for the Federal government, reduced the term Public Service to an oxymoron.’
    • ‘Another triumph for military intelligence, the finest of all oxymorons.’
    • ‘If these terms sound like oxymorons, that's because they are.’
    • ‘Your Honour secondly asked about the phrase, the apparent oxymoron of non-exclusive possession acts.’
    • ‘The term native-English speaker itself can be an oxymoron sometimes.’
    • ‘Yes, but it does leave a reader ever more certain that the term ‘mature male’ is an oxymoron.’
    • ‘I mean, this is an oxymoron, there's nothing free about the speech today.’
    • ‘What he has written is contemporary history, if the term is not altogether an oxymoron.’
    • ‘But several are exclusively concerned with the funeral trade, its absurd oxymorons - ‘the future of death’ - and its expansion into a global industry.’
    • ‘A medley of oxymorons, contradictions, and double-standards.’
    • ‘By contrast, the very idea of false knowledge is an oxymoron.’
    • ‘One day I sat her down to explain to her the word oxymoron and then to describe a magnificent and bucolic world of insults.’
    • ‘The prose poem is a hybrid form, an anomaly if not a paradox or oxymoron.’
    • ‘The idea of a light of darkness is certainly an oxymoron, certainly a contradiction in terms, and yet we find that among various mystics.’
    • ‘In the annals of oxymorons, this has to be among the most oxymoronic.’
    • ‘Prisoners of hope are living, breathing oxymorons.’
    • ‘Is there a safe gun or is that an oxymoron like a safe cigarette?’
    • ‘An oxymoron is a combination of contradictory or incongruous words such as ‘gentle violence’.’
    • ‘I have no desire to drive those two oxymorons, ‘classic rock’ and ‘young country,’ from the air.’
    • ‘Speech was a required elective (which is, in the eyes of the high school student, one of the most contradictory oxymorons to be commonly spoken in the English language).’
    contradiction, contradiction in terms, self-contradiction, inconsistency, incongruity, anomaly, conflict
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Mid 17th century: from Greek oxumōron, neuter (used as a noun) of oxumōros ‘pointedly foolish’, from oxus ‘sharp’ + mōros ‘foolish’.