Posted by: Jack Henry | May 14, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Oxymorons

“An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.”

Today’s our last term and our last joke from the list I sent out a couple of weeks ago. The word of the day is oxymoron, which means “a combination for epigrammatic effect of contradictory or incongruous words (such as cruel kindness, laborious idleness).” (From Merriam-Webster.)

Where did this word come from? As usual, I checked the Online Etymology Dictionary, and here’s what the author of the site said: “1650s, from Greek oxymoron, noun use of neuter of oxymoros (adj.) ‘pointedly foolish,’ from oxys ‘sharp, pointed’ (from PIE root *ak– ‘be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce’) + moros ‘stupid’ (see moron). Rhetorical figure by which contradictory terms are conjoined so as to give point to the statement or expression; the word itself is an illustration of the thing. Now often used loosely to mean ‘contradiction in terms.’”

Now for some examples from Your Dictionary:

  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Clearly confused
  • Act naturally
  • Deafening silence
  • Pretty ugly
  • Definitely maybe
  • Living dead
  • Walking dead
  • Amazingly awful
  • Alone together
  • Virtual reality
  • Random order
  • Original copy
  • Run slowly
  • Small crowd
  • Open secret
  • Passive aggressive
  • Appear invisible
  • Big baby
  • Farewell reception
  • Growing smaller

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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