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noun par·a·dox \ˈper-ə-ˌdäks, ˈpa-rə-\

Simple Definition of paradox

  • : something (such as a situation) that is made up of two opposite things and that seems impossible but is actually true or possible

  • : someone who does two things that seem to be opposite to each other or who has qualities that are opposite

  • : a statement that seems to say two opposite things but that may be true

Full Definition of paradox

  1. 1 :  a tenet contrary to received opinion

  2. 2 a :  a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true b :  a self-contradictory statement that at first seems true c :  an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises

  3. 3 :  one (as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases

Examples of paradox

  1. For the actors, the goal was a paradox: real emotion, produced on cue. —Claudia Roth Pierpont, New Yorker, 27 Oct. 2008

  2. Again and again, he returns in his writing to the paradox of a woman who is superior to the men around her by virtue of social class though considered inferior to them on account of her gender. —Terry Eagleton, Harper's, November 2007

  3. She was certainly far from understanding him completely; his meaning was not at all times obvious. It was hard to see what he meant for instance by speaking of his provincial side—which was exactly the side she would have taken him most to lack. Was it a harmless paradox, intended to puzzle her? or was it the last refinement of high culture? —Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, 1881

  4. Mr. Guppy propounds for Mr. Smallweed's consideration the paradox that the more you drink the thirstier you are and reclines his head upon the window-sill in a state of hopeless languor. —Charles Dickens, Bleak House, 1852-53

  5. It is a paradox that computers need maintenance so often, since they are meant to save people time.

  6. As an actor, he's a paradox—he loves being in the public eye but also deeply values and protects his privacy.

  7. a novel full of paradox

Origin of paradox

Latin paradoxum, from Greek paradoxon, from neuter of paradoxos contrary to expectation, from para- + dokein to think, seem — more at decent

First Known Use: 1540

PARADOX Defined for Kids


noun par·a·dox \ˈper-ə-ˌdäks\

Definition of paradox

  1. 1 :  a statement that seems to say opposite things and yet is perhaps true

  2. 2 :  a person or thing having qualities that seem to be opposite

Medical Dictionary


noun par·a·dox \ˈpar-ə-ˌdäks\

Medical Definition of paradox

  1. :  an instance of a paradoxical phenomenon or reaction

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February 9, 2016

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