What Is An Oxymoron?

October 10, 2011

in Creative writing

 Sounds like a wart removing cream of some description, I know, but actually it’s a figure of speech that combines two apparently contradictory terms. Oxymoron is adapted from the 5th century Latin “oxymoron”, which is derived from the Ancient Greek oxus, meaning sharp, and mōros, meaning dull. The plural can be either oxymorons or oxymora.

The most common type of Oxymoron contains an adjective-noun combination, like modern vintage, new classic, dark light, old news, open secret.

Then there are inadvertent oxymora that come about as a result of sloppy grammar in conversation and have a tendency to stick as somewhat “cool” sayings. For example: objective opinion, extremely average and original copy

Another type is apparent oxymora, which are more like puns that come about as a result of popular speech. For example, controlled chaosopen secretorganized messalone in a crowd, and accidentally on purpose.

Then we have what some refer to as paradoxical oxymorons, like bitter sweet, noisy silence, irregular pattern, sweet sorrow, serious joke.

Oxymorons are fun and make for a great writing tool to play with in novels and creative writing in general. Shakespeare loved an oxymoron, and in remembrance of this great writer I will leave you with this famous excerpt from Romeo and Juliet:

“O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!
Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!”

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