Most of you guys might be thinking what the hell is ‘OXYMORONS‘. We might have used such words in our day-to-day life but we didn’t bother to know what exactly such words term as. On the personal front, even I wasn’t aware of it and use to tell my friends about such words but never delve into what such words are classified as. Well, this is how Oxford English Dictionary defines oxymoron: A rhetorical figure by which contradictory or incongruous terms are conjoined so as to give point to the statement or expression; an expression in its superficial or literal meaning self-contradictory or absurd, but involving a point. Got the hang of it? If yes, then you must be very good at English but there are people like me who need a better way, simpler way to understand such words.
For people like me, this is what oxymoron means – “It consists of two word where the first word contradicts with the second“.
Oxymoron has an interesting etymology. In ancient Greece, oxus meant “sharp; pointed” and moros meant “dull; stupid; foolish.” So the word oxymoron is itself an oxymoron, literally meaning something like “a sharp dullness” or “pointed foolishness.” Technically, the correct plural form of the word is ‘oxymora’, but so many people say oxymoron that it is now generally regarded as an acceptable usage.
Richard Watson Todd, Author of ‘Much Ado about English’ says, “The true beauty of oxymorons is that, unless we sit back and really think, we happily accept them as normal English.” He illustrates his point in the following passage:
It was an open secret that the company had used a paid volunteer to test the plastic glasses. Although they were made using liquid gas technology and were an original copy that looked almost exactly like a more expensive brand, the volunteer thought that they were pretty ugly and that it would be simply impossible for the general public to accept them. On hearing this feedback, the company board was clearly confused and there was a deafening silence. This was a minor crisis and the only choice was to drop the product line.
Sometimes they are used to create some sort of drama for the reader or listener, and sometimes they are used to make the person stop and think, whether it’s to laugh or to ponder. One famous oxymoron is the phrase “the same difference.” This phrase qualifies as an oxymoron because the words “same” and “difference” have completely opposite meanings. Therefore, bringing them together into one phrase produces a verbally puzzling, yet engaging effect.