Tag s | 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.)

Leave a Comment

A Writer’s Best Friend

If I asked you what you considered to be a writer’s best friend, what would you say? Please don’t say “Wikipedia.” My clients would probably reply, “Bob Hostetler.” But that can’t be everyone’s answer. You might consider “a fine fountain pen” or “a blank page in a brand new journal” …

Read More

Grammar and the Singular “They”

Yesterday I opened a can of worms. There were many worms in the can; some male and some female. I discovered that a few of the worms were married to each other. One couple was having a marital disagreement. They were arguing about grammar, of all things. The fight was about the proper use of gender pronouns. Here is the sentence under dispute:

“When a spouse greets a partner with derision because of an opinion, what should be ___ reaction?”

Fill in the blank. Should you use his, his or her, or their? This is a grammatical conundrum. Your choice will determine whether you will be categorized as “sexist,” “tiresome,” or “ungrammatical.”

Our vernacular has changed over the past years due to our sensitivity over the generic “he.” For some it is a matter of being politically correct. For others it is merely a way of being inclusive of both genders in their writing. In addition it can be simply a matter of using the common language of everyday speech.

So what is correct?

Read More

Tools to Tackle Grammar Gaffes

Oh my. We all have our peccadillos when it comes to English, don’t we? If I addressed them all, we’d be here til next year. So I’ll just give you the cheats…uh, tips I use most often. —Don’t be afraid of me. Poor ol’ me has been sorely maligned, as …

Read More

When Trying to Sound Intelligent Backfires

So, I’m at a writers’ conference—a professional setting, yes? With folks who are clearly well educated, especially about the use of words, yes?–and this is what I hear: “Just give Jim and I a call, and we’ll talk it over.” Cringe. Then came a recent commercial on TV, where a …

Read More

Misused Words and Phrases

 

The English language is full of persnickety quirks, the most despicable of which are buzz words. Words and phrases we’ve decided work better than plain speech. Why say what you mean when you can just toss out a phrase that says what you want, but in such a vague and convoluted manner than people spend so much energy figuring it out that they can’t challenge you? Genius! Or how about those words we overuse, or misuse? Oy, da pain!

So here, for your reading pleasure, are some of the words and phrases that drive this logophile right up the wall. Literally!

Can you unpack that for me?

Nope. I can’t. Literally. What’s more, I don’t want to. I don’t like packing or unpacking. And what does packing have to do with anything? Whatever happened to the plain and simple, “Would you explain that, please?”

Repurposed

Folks, we all know what this means. Fired. Laid off. Out of a job. You can’t take away the devastation by giving it some innocuous name and hoping nobody challenges you on it.

Baby bump

Seriously? It’s not a bump. It’s a baby. Way better than a bump.

Read More