- The definition of an oxymoron is a combination of contradictory words.
An example of oxymoron is "definite maybe."
Origin of oxymoronLate Greek oxymōron ; from neuter of oxymōros, acutely silly: see oxy- and amp; moron
nounpl. ox·y·mo·rons or ox·y·mo·ra
Origin of oxymoronGreek oxumōron, an expression that is witty because paradoxical, from neuter of oxumōros, pointedly foolish : oxus, sharp, keen; see oxygen + mōros, dull, foolish.
(plural oxymorons or oxymora)
- A figure of speech in which two words with opposing meanings are used together intentionally for effect.
- (general) A contradiction in terms.
- Traditionally, the word oxymoron is used in cases where the contradiction is deliberate, its purpose being to emphasize or heighten a contrast so as to make a point. The use of oxymoron as a synonym for contradiction in terms is considered incorrect by some speakers and writers, and is perhaps best avoided in certain contexts.
First attested in the 17th century, noun use of 5th century Latin oxymōrum (adj), neut. nom. form of oxymōrus (adj), from Ancient Greek ὀξύμωρος (oxumōros), compound of ὀξύς (oxus, “sharp, keen”) (English oxy-, as in oxygen) + μωρός (mōros, “dull, stupid”) (English moron (“stupid person”)). Literally “sharp-dull” or "keen-stupid", itself an oxymoron, hence autological; compare sophomore (literally “wise fool”), influenced by similar analysis. The compound form *ὀξύμωρον (oxumōron) is not found in the extant Ancient Greek sources.