What’s an oxymoron?




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?


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Angela Boothroyd

Angela Boothroyd

English language teacher at Botanical Linguist
Hi, I'm Angela, the Botanical Linguist, and I show learners of English how to become successful and self-directed or independent language learners. If you want to improve your English accuracy and fluency and learn everyday strategies and activities that will help you learn English without spending a lot of money on lessons, subscribe to my free newsletter here.
Angela Boothroyd
Angela Boothroyd
Angela Boothroyd

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  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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