[ par-uh-doks ]
/ ˈpær əˌdɒks /
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See synonyms for: paradox / paradoxes / paradoxical on Thesaurus.com

a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
a self-contradictory and false proposition.
any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.
an opinion or statement contrary to commonly accepted opinion.
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Origin of paradox

First recorded in 1530–40; from Middle French paradoxe, from Latin paradoxa (neuter plural), from Greek parádoxon, (plural parádoxa ), noun use of neuter of parádoxos “contrary to expectation, unbelievable, beyond belief”; see para-1, orthodox


par·a·dox·i·cal, par·a·dox·al, adjectivepar·a·dox·ol·o·gy [par-uh-dok-sol-uh-jee], /ˌpær əˌdɒkˈsɒl ə dʒi/, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use paradox in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for paradox

/ (ˈpærəˌdɒks) /

a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement that is or may be truereligious truths are often expressed in paradox
a self-contradictory proposition, such as I always tell lies
a person or thing exhibiting apparently contradictory characteristics
an opinion that conflicts with common belief

Derived forms of paradox

paradoxical, adjectiveparadoxically, adverb

Word Origin for paradox

C16: from Late Latin paradoxum, from Greek paradoxos opposed to existing notions, from para- 1 + doxa opinion
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

Cultural definitions for paradox


A statement that seems contradictory or absurd but is actually valid or true. According to one proverbial paradox, we must sometimes be cruel in order to be kind. Another form of paradox is a statement that truly is contradictory and yet follows logically from other statements that do not seem open to objection. If someone says, “I am lying,” for example, and we assume that his statement is true, it must be false. The paradox is that the statement “I am lying” is false if it is true.

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.