What Is an Oxymoron? (Definition)

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What Is an Oxymoron? (Definition)

An oxymoron is the use of words in which two contradictory terms are combined.

The term oxymoron is itself an oxymoron (oxy means sharp, and moron means dull). The plural of oxymoron is oxymorons or oxymora.

Oxymorons are not usually mistakes. There is no need to avoid them. Often, an oxymoron is a well-accepted term with a good reason to have contradictory elements.

Examples of Oxymorons

Here are some examples of oxymorons:
  • act naturally
  • (Acting means you're not being natural.)
  • jumbo shrimp
  • (Shrimp means small, so it can't be jumbo.)
  • four-ounce pound cake
  • (A pound means a pound not four ounces.)
  • rock opera
  • (An opera means an opera not rock.)
  • non-working mother
  • (Being a mother involves a lot of work.)
  • plastic glasses
  • (Glasses are made of glass not plastic.)