noun ox·y·mo·ron \ˌäk-sē-ˈmr-ˌän\

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

plural ox·y·mo·ra \-ˈmr-ə\

Full Definition of OXYMORON

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

Examples of OXYMORON

  1. The phrase cruel kindness is an oxymoron.
  2. 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

Origin of OXYMORON

Late Greek oxymōron, from neuter of oxymōros pointedly foolish, from Greek oxys sharp, keen + mōros foolish
First Known Use: 1657

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ablaut, allusion, anacoluthon, diacritic, gerund, idiom, infinitive, metaphor, semiotics, simile


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