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noun ox·y·mo·ron \ˌäk-sē-ˈmȯr-ˌän\

Simple Definition of oxymoron

  • : a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings

Full Definition of oxymoron

plural ox·y·mo·raplay play \-ˈmȯr-ə\

  1. :  a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness); broadly :  something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements

ox·y·mo·ron·ic play \-mə-ˈrä-nik, -mȯ-\ adjective
ox·y·mo·ron·i·cal·ly play \-ni-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Examples of oxymoron

  1. The phrase “Broadway rock musical” is an oxymoron. Broadway doesn't have the nerve to let the really hard stuff in the house. —Mark Coleman, Rolling Stone, 26 Dec. 1996/ 9 Jan. 1997

  2. Taken to its logical conclusion, this emphasis on the fragmentation of the body politic makes postmodern feminism an oxymoron: feminism and virtually all our laws against sex discrimination reflect the presumption that women do in fact constitute a political category. —Wendy Kaminer, Atlantic, October 1993

  3. He calls himself a “bleeding-heart conservative,” and that oxymoron sums up the unique [Jack F.] Kemp role in the Bush Administration: the apostle of free enterprise who is the ambassador to the poor. —William Safire ,New York Times Magazine, 25 Mar. 1990

  4. As the war went on, “precision bombing” became a comical oxymoron relished by bomber crews with a sense of black humor. —Paul Fussell, Wartime, 1989

  5. The phrase cruel kindness is an oxymoron.

Origin of oxymoron

Late Greek oxymōron, from neuter of oxymōros pointedly foolish, from Greek oxys sharp, keen + mōros foolish

First Known Use: 1657

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February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

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