See also: Oxymoron and oxymóron



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First attested in the 17th century, noun use of 5th century Latin oxymōrum ‎(adj), neut. nom. form of oxymōrus ‎(adj),[1] from Ancient Greek ὀξύμωρος ‎(oxúmōros), compound of ὀξύς ‎(oxús, sharp, keen, pointed)[2] (English oxy-, as in oxygen) + μωρός ‎(mōrós, dull, stupid, folly)[3] (English moron ‎(stupid person)). Literally “sharp-dull”, "keen-stupid" or "pointed folly"[4] – itself an oxymoron, hence autological; compare sophomore ‎(literally wise fool), influenced by similar analysis. The compound form ὀξύμωρον ‎(oxúmōron) is not found in the extant Ancient Greek sources.[5]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ɒksɪˈmɔːɹɒn/
  • (US) enPR: äk-sē-môrʹ-än, äk-sĭ-môrʹ-än, IPA(key): /ˌɑksiˈmɔɹɑn/, /ɑksɪˈmɔɹɑn/
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oxymoron ‎(plural oxymorons or oxymora)

  1. A figure of speech in which two words with opposing meanings are used together intentionally for effect.
  2. (loosely) A contradiction in terms.

Usage notesEdit

  • Historically, an oxymoron was "a paradox with a point",[6] where the contradiction seems absurd at first glance, and yet is deliberate, its purpose being to underscore a point or to draw attention to a concealed point. The modern usage of oxymoron as a synonym for the simpler contradiction in terms is considered incorrect by some speakers and writers, and is perhaps best avoided in certain contexts.[1][4] (See also the Wikipedia article.)


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See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 oxymōrus in Charlton T. Lewis & Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  2. ^ ὀξύς in Liddell & Scott (1940) A Greek–English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  3. ^ μωρός in Liddell & Scott (1940) A Greek–English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  4. 4.0 4.1 ὀξύμωρος in Liddell & Scott (1940) A Greek–English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  5. ^ OED: [1]
  6. ^ Jebb, Sir Richard (1900). Sophocles: The Plays and Fragments, with critical notes, commentary, and translation in English prose. Part III: The Antigone. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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