Grammar

Oxymorons

Oxymorons can be fun. Two words that can have contradictory meanings are put together to create a new phrase. Or it can be expanded to mean two separate thoughts or ideas that are in direct conflict with each other but when combined create something new.

For example, if you’ve ever worked in a cubicle, you can see the humor in the description “office space.”

Think about these for a second: “no comment” or “whole part.”

And what about a “loud whisper”? Is anyone wearing a “medium large” shirt today? Is it “wicked good”? Did it leave you “barely clothed”?

Please try to avoid using them in your novel or nonfiction work. Like clichés they can make you sound kind of silly. Unless you are Shakespeare who wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Then you sound brilliant.  Also in that same play he wrote, “O brawling love! O loving hate! . . . O heavy lightness! serious vanity! Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health! Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! This love feel I, that feel no love in this.”

Even historians created one that is a head-scratcher when you think about it. The Civil War. How can war be civil?

You, as someone who is serious about their craft, need to watch out for ones that have become part of our everyday speech, like “ill health” or “passive aggressive” or “random order” or “found missing.” You get the idea.

There is a website that has a list of hundreds of oxymorons: www.oxymoronlist.com

Did you know that the word oxymoron is an oxymoron? Oxy comes from the Greek word for “sharp,” oxys. Moron (I’ll bet you can guess this one) comes from the Greek word for “dull,” moros. (No, it isn’t the Greek word for Steve.) Therefore, an oxymoron is a “sharp-dull” combination of words.

Have a great day!
(Only you will know if that was an oxymoron.)

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