English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What is an oxymoron? (with examples)

What is an oxymoron? (with examples)

An oxymoron is a term in which two contradictory terms are combined.

The term“oxymoron“is itself an oxymoron, since it derives from the Greek“oxus“(sharp) and“moros“(idiot).

The plural of“oxymoron“es“oxymoron“u“oxymora“, but“oxymoron“it is much more popular [evidence].

Easy Examples of Oxymorons

  • Act naturally
    (Acting means you’re not being natural.)
  • Non-working mother
    (Being a mother involves a lot of work.)
  • Fresh Raisins
    (Raisins are dried-out grapes.)

More Examples of Oxymorons

It is often debatable whether the contradictory terms in an oxymoron are really contradictory. Often they are not. Here are some well-known oxymorons that only have partially contradictory terms.

  • dull shine
  • female gunman
  • jumbo shrimp
  • plastic glasses
  • Four-ounce pound cake

Here’s an example of something that sounds a lot like an oxymoron but isn’t.

  • Non-prosaic prose
    (“Prosaic“is the adjective of prose, which is normal text as opposed to poetry and verse. The term“non-prosaic prose“looks like an oxymoron, but it isn’t because“prosaic“can also mean ordinary, everyday, or boring. So, they’re just two interesting words that translate, literally, as interesting words.)

Why Should I Care about Oxymorons?

Encourage your readers to ponder your concept.

Oxymorons are not usually mistakes. Contradictory elements are often deliberate to make the reader stop and reflect on the concept.

  • Deafening silence
    (This classic oxymoron describes an uncomfortable silence – as uncomfortable as someone screaming. It’s a thought-provoking phrase.)

Although oxymorons are more common in poetry and literary works, they do have some utility in business correspondence, as they can have an impact.


An oxymoron is a deliberate mistake that causes the reader to stop and reflect.

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