Skip to main content
Select Source:

OXYMORON

OXYMORON. [From Greek oxúmōros sharp and dull. Stress: ‘awk-si-Mo-ron’]. A term in RHETORIC for bringing opposites together in a compact paradoxical word or phrase: bitter-sweet; a cheerful pessimist. The term is often used for social comment, humorously or cynically (such as in reference to military intelligence, conceived as a contradiction in terms) and dramatically, as in ‘It has become an oxymoron to speak of the Lebanese nation’ ( Jim Hoagland, The Washington Post, Apr. 1989).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"OXYMORON." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"OXYMORON." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oxymoron

"OXYMORON." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Retrieved July 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/oxymoron

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

oxymoron

oxymoron a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true). Recorded from the mid 17th century, the word comes from Greek oxumōron, neuter (used as a noun) of oxumōros ‘pointedly foolish’, from oxus ‘sharp’ + mōros ‘foolish’.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oxymoron." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oxymoron." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oxymoron

"oxymoron." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved July 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oxymoron

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

oxymoron

ox·y·mo·ron / ˌäksəˈmôrˌän/ • n. a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g., faith unfaithful kept him falsely true). DERIVATIVES: ox·y·mo·ron·ic / -məˈränik/ adj.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oxymoron." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oxymoron." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oxymoron-1

"oxymoron." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved July 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oxymoron-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

oxymoron

oxymoron (rhet.) figure in which contradictory terms are conjoined. XVII. — Gr. oxúmōron, n. sg. of oxúmoros pointedly foolish, f. oxús sharp + mōrós foolish.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oxymoron." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oxymoron." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oxymoron-2

"oxymoron." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved July 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oxymoron-2

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

oxymoron

oxymoronAgamemnon, Memnon •ninon, xenon •noumenon • Trianon • xoanon •organon • Simenon • Maintenon •crampon, kampong, tampon •Nippon • coupon •Akron, Dacron, macron •electron • natron • Hebron • positron •Heilbronn • micron •boron, moron, oxymoron •neutron • interferon •fleuron, Huron, neuron •Oberon • mellotron • aileron •cyclotron • Percheron • Mitterrand •vigneron • croissant • Maupassant •garçon • Cartier-Bresson • exon •frisson • Oxon • chanson • Tucson •soupçon • Aubusson • Besançon •penchant • torchon • cabochon •Anton, canton, Danton •lepton •piton, Teton •krypton • feuilleton • magneton •chiton •photon, proton •croûton, futon •eschaton • peloton • contretemps •telethon •talkathon, walkathon •Avon • tableau vivant • vol-au-vent

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"oxymoron." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"oxymoron." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oxymoron-0

"oxymoron." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/oxymoron-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.