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oxymoron (ok-see-MOR-on, -mor-) noun, plural oxymora or oxymorons

A figure of speech in which two contradictory terms appear together for emphasis, for example, "deafening silence".

[From Greek oxymoron, from neuter of oxymoros (sharp dull), from oxys (sharp) + moros (dull). The word moron comes from the same root.]

"A man for whom the term 'business ethics' is not just a polite oxymoron, Edward is shocked when he discovers the secret behind his father's genius with investments. It's a bit like the classic shell game, only with quarterly earning statements."
Karen D'Souza; The Family That Cheats Together; Mercury News (San Jose, California); Mar 25, 2005.

See more usage examples of oxymoron in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

This week's theme: words about wordplay.


Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny. -Carl Schurz, general and politician (1829-1906)

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