What’s an oxymoron?

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An oxymoron (noun) is a figure of speech combining two seemingly contradictory, incompatible or opposite words.

The plural of oxymoron is oxymoraOxymorons is also used.

Oxymora are very common in everyday English.



♦ an open secret

♦ a deafening silence

♦ act naturally

♦ old news

♦ a small crowd

♦ friendly fire (a military term / euphemism referring to the accidental firing towards one’s own troops instead of the enemy)

♦ seriously funny

‘Groundhog Day is a seriously funny film’ – this means Groundhog Day is a very funny film.


The term oxymoron is often used in a humorous or cynical way – for example with reference to terms such as:

♦ military intelligence

♦ an honest politician

♦ wedded bliss

♦ airline schedule


Can you think of any more examples of oxymora?


Angela Boothroyd

Angela Boothroyd

Freelance writer, English language teacher, at Botanical Linguist
Hi, I'm Angela, the creator of the Botanical Linguist site. I'm a freelance writer, linguist, and qualified English language teacher. I specialize in writing online course content, and blog posts and articles about business, education, and the English language. I’m also a writing coach for non-native users of English who want to blog better in English.
Angela Boothroyd
Angela Boothroyd


  1. I have been told countless times that ‘German humour’ is apparently an oxymoron. 😉
    Angelika Davey recently posted..German idiom – wo sich Fuchs und Hase gute Nacht sagenMy Profile

  2. How about affordable housing 😉

    Seriously though umm, how about ‘almost ready’?
    Anita recently posted..The scarred wing of a Peacock butterflyMy Profile

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