- a figure of speech by which a locution produces an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory effect, as in “cruel kindness” or “to make haste slowly.”
Origin of oxymoron
Related Wordsallegory, allusion, analogy, anticlimax, antithesis, bathos, comparison, conceit, device, euphemism, euphuism, exaggeration, expression, flourish, flower, hyperbole, image, imagery, irony, metaphor
- rhetoric an epigrammatic effect, by which contradictory terms are used in conjunctionliving death; fiend angelical
Word Origin and History for oxymoron
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.
A rhetorical device in which two seemingly contradictory words are used together for effect: “She is just a poor little rich girl.”