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oxymoron

[ok-si-mawr-on, -mohr-]
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noun, plural ox·y·mo·ra [ok-si-mawr-uh, -mohr-uh] /ˌɒk sɪˈmɔr ə, -ˈmoʊr ə/, ox·y·mor·ons. Rhetoric.
  1. a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”
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Origin of oxymoron

1650–60; < Late Latin oxymorum < presumed Greek *oxýmōron, neuter of *oxýmōros sharp-dull, equivalent to oxý(s) sharp (see oxy-1) + mōrós dull (see moron)
Related formsox·y·mo·ron·ic [ok-see-muh-ron-ik] /ˌɒk si məˈrɒn ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for oxymoron

oxymoron

noun plural -mora (-ˈmɔːrə)
  1. rhetoric an epigrammatic effect, by which contradictory terms are used in conjunctionliving death; fiend angelical
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Word Origin

C17: via New Latin from Greek oxumōron, from oxus sharp + mōros stupid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for oxymoron

n.

1650s, from Greek oxymoron, noun use of neuter of oxymoros (adj.) "pointedly foolish," from oxys "sharp" (see acrid) + moros "stupid" (see moron). Rhetorical figure by which contradictory terms are conjoined so as to give point to the statement or expression; the word itself is an illustration of the thing. Now often used loosely to mean "contradiction in terms." Related: Oxymoronic.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

oxymoron in Culture

oxymoron

[(ok-see-mawr-on)]

A rhetorical device in which two seemingly contradictory words are used together for effect: “She is just a poor little rich girl.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.