First attested in the 17th century, noun use of 5th century Latin oxymōrum (adj), neut. nom. form of oxymōrus (adj), from Ancient Greek ὀξύμωρος (oxúmōros), compound of ὀξύς (oxús, “sharp, keen, pointed”) (English oxy-, as in oxygen) + μωρός (mōrós, “dull, stupid, folly”) (English moron (“stupid person”)). Literally “sharp-dull”, "keen-stupid" or "pointed folly" – itself an oxymoron, hence autological; compare sophomore (literally “wise fool”), influenced by similar analysis. The compound form ὀξύμωρον (oxúmōron) is not found in the extant Ancient Greek sources.
- (UK) IPA(key): /ɒksɪˈmɔːɹɒn/
- (US) enPR: äk-sē-môrʹ-än, äk-sĭ-môrʹ-än, IPA(key): /ˌɑksiˈmɔɹɑn/, /ɑksɪˈmɔɹɑn/
Audio (US) (file)
- A figure of speech in which two words with opposing meanings are used together intentionally for effect.
- (loosely) A contradiction in terms.
- Historically, an oxymoron was "a paradox with a point", where the contradiction seems absurd at first glance, and yet is deliberate, its purpose being to underscore a point or to draw attention to a concealed point. The modern usage of oxymoron as a synonym for the simpler contradiction in terms is considered incorrect by some speakers and writers, and is perhaps best avoided in certain contexts. (See also the Wikipedia article.)
- oxymōrus in Charlton T. Lewis & Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
- ^ ὀξύς in Liddell & Scott (1940) A Greek–English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press
- ^ μωρός in Liddell & Scott (1940) A Greek–English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press
- ὀξύμωρος in Liddell & Scott (1940) A Greek–English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press
- ^ OED: 
- ^ Jebb, Sir Richard (1900). Sophocles: The Plays and Fragments, with critical notes, commentary, and translation in English prose. Part III: The Antigone. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.