Oxymoron - Explore What It Is, Its Meaning, Definition and How to Use Them with Examples

In this article, you will be introduced to the figure of speech called ‘oxymoron’. You will get to know all that you need to know about oxymoron, its meaning, definitions and how it has to be used. You can also check out the examples given in the article to understand clearly and use the figure of speech correctly.

Table of Contents

What is Oxymoron? – Meaning and Definition

An oxymoron is a rhetorical device that uses two opposite or contradictory terms one after the other in order to project an effect. According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, oxymoron is defined as “a phrase that combines two words that seem to be the opposite of each other.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines an oxymoron as “two words or phrases used together that have, or seem to have, opposite meanings.”

An oxymoron, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is defined as “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.” The Collins Dictionary defines an oxymoron as “a figure of speech in which opposite or contradictory ideas or terms are combined.”

How to Use an Oxymoron in a Sentence? – Points to Remember

An oxymoron, as already discussed, is the combination of two contradicting terms. There are some points you have to remember when forming and using oxymorons in sentences. The first point you have to keep in mind is that you have to combine two opposite words, only then can it be considered an oxymoron. Also, do not just use any two opposite terms. Not every combination would make sense. You have to carefully analyse which two words would create an effect on your audience.

Taking a look at some examples will help you understand clearly. There are some frequently used oxymorons as well. You can also go through them to have a good idea about how they can be formed and used.

Examples of Oxymoron

Take a look at the following examples of oxymoron to clearly understand what it is and how it can be used.

Examples of Oxymoron from Literature

Here are a few examples of oxymoron as used in different forms of literature.

  • “His honour rooted in dishonour stood, And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King
  • We can see multiple instances where William Shakespeare uses oxymorons in his famous play, Romeo and Juliet.
  • “Parting is such sweet sorrow.
  • “Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
  • O anything, of nothing first create!
  • O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!
  • Mis-shalien chaos of well-seeming forms!
  • Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!”
  • In the poem, Don Juan by Lord Byron, he uses oxymoron to connect the emotions between sadness and happiness.
  • “With good, and bad, and worse, alike prolific

Of melancholy merriment, to quote

Too much of one sort would be soporific;”

  • William Butler Yeats uses an oxymoron in his poem, Lapis Lazuli
  • “One asks for mournful melodies;

Accomplished fingers begin to play.”

  • John Donne makes use of an oxymoron in his poem, The Ecstasy.
  • “Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread

Our eyes upon one double string;

So to’intergraft our hands, as yet

Was all the means to make us one,

Some Other Common Examples of Oxymoron for Everyday Use

Here are a few commonly used oxymorons that have been in the English language frequently. Examples of sentences using those oxymorons have also been given in the following table for your reference. Check them out.

Oxymoron

Sentence Examples

Pretty ugly

I feel these patterns are pretty ugly and not up to the mark.

True fiction

Sam likes reading works of true fiction.

Original copy

They asked us to submit the original copy.

Whole piece

Chester demanded that he wanted the whole piece of cake.

Virtual reality

Technological advancement in the educational department is completely based on virtual reality.

Cruel kindness

Euthanizing their pet dog was considered as an act of cruel kindness.

Small crowd

There was only a small crowd in front of the grocery store.

Sweet sorrow

There is always such sweet sorrow in witnessing each and every farewell function.

Awfully good

The movie seemed to be awfully good.

Open secret

Dharini, moving to France, is an open secret.

Clearly confused

I could see that he was clearly confused because he did not answer my questions satisfactorily.

Organised mess

My work desk is an organised mess.

False truth

This is just the false truth.

Friendly fight

My sister and I had a friendly fight.

Completely unfinished

Santana left the painting completely unfinished.

Painfully beautiful

The process of giving birth is painfully beautiful.

Awfully pretty

Lalu looked awfully pretty at the party today.

Alone together

They seemed to be enjoying each other’s company alone together.

Growing smaller

My brother feels that I am growing smaller every time he comes back after a trip.

Only choice

Taking up this job offer was my only choice.

Working holiday

Tomorrow is a working holiday.

Unbiased opinion

The teacher asked the students for an unbiased opinion.

Walking dead

After an entire day of continuous practice, the participants looked as if they were walking dead.

Foolish wisdom

Everyone was amazed at her foolish wisdom.

Seriously funny

The final dance was seriously funny.

Check Your Understanding of Oxymoron

Identify the oxymorons in the following sentences.

1. It is always a love-hate relationship between us.

2. I can never manage such a deafening silence.

3. The company faced a minor crisis in the last year, which affected the company to a great extent.

4. Their restlessness was projected like a silent scream for help.

5. I have zero tolerance for dishonesty.

6. My mom asked my brother to stop behaving like a big baby.

7. Trigonometry is my least favourite topic in Maths.

8. There was a definite possibility for us to be late due to the traffic.

9. We use plastic glasses so we can just dispose of them after use.

10. Mazeeka was on a heavy diet owing to her wedding.

Now, find out if you have identified the oxymorons correctly from the answers given below.

1. It is always a love-hate relationship between us.

2. I can never manage such a deafening silence.

3. The company faced a minor crisis in the last year, which affected the company to a great extent.

4. Their restlessness was projected like a silent scream for help.

5. I have zero tolerance for dishonesty.

6. My mom asked my brother to stop behaving like a big baby.

7. Trigonometry is my least favourite topic in Maths.

8. There was a definite possibility for us to be late due to the traffic.

9. We use plastic glasses so we can just dispose of them after use.

10. Mazeeka was on a heavy diet owing to her wedding.

Frequently Asked Questions on Oxymoron in English Grammar

What is an oxymoron?

An oxymoron is a rhetorical device that uses two opposite or contradictory terms one after the other in order to project an effect.

What is the definition of an oxymoron?

According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, oxymoron is defined as “a phrase that combines two words that seem to be the opposite of each other.” The Cambridge Dictionary defines an oxymoron as “two words or phrases used together that have, or seem to have, opposite meanings.” An oxymoron, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is defined as “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words.” The Collins Dictionary defines an oxymoron as “a figure of speech in which opposite or contradictory ideas or terms are combined.”

How can we form an oxymoron?

The first point you have to keep in mind is that you have to combine two opposite words, only then can it be considered an oxymoron. Also, do not just use any two opposite terms. Not every combination would make sense. You have to carefully analyse which two words would create an effect on your audience.

Give some examples of oxymorons from literature.

Here are some examples of oxymorons from literature.

  • William Butler Yeats uses an oxymoron in his poem, Lapis Lazuli
  • “One asks for mournful melodies;

Accomplished fingers begin to play.”

  • John Donne makes use of an oxymoron in his poem, The Ecstasy.
  • “Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
  • Our eyes upon one double string;

Give some common day-to-day examples of oxymorons.

Here are a few examples of oxymorons that can be used in everyday life.

  • My brother feels that I am growing smaller every time he comes back after a trip.
  • Santana left the painting completely unfinished.
  • My sister and I had a friendly fight.
  • Technological advancement in the educational department is completely based on virtual reality.
  • Soumia seems to be clearly confused.

Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.

*

*