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paradox (PAR-uh-doks) noun

1. A statement that appears contradictory or absurd yet in fact may be true.

2. A self-contradictory statement that appears true or is derived from true statements.

3. A statement that contradicts commonly accepted opinion.

[From Latin paradoxum, from Greek paradoxon, from paradoxos (contrary to opinion), from para- (beyond) + doxa (opinion), from dokein (to think).]

"Assuming that the engineering problems could be overcome, the production of a time machine could open up a Pandora's box of causal paradoxes. Consider, for example, the time traveler who visits the past and murders his mother when she was a young girl. How do we make sense of this? If the girl dies, she cannot become the time traveler's mother. But if the time traveler was never born, he could not go back and murder his mother."
Paul Davies, How to Build a Time Machine, Scientific American (New York), Sep 1, 2002.

"Latest figures from the Property Council highlight the paradox faced by commercial property investors, with most sectors offering good returns while suffering declining capital values."
Greg Ninness, Property Investors' Paradox, Sunday Star Times (New Zealand), Jul 28, 2002.

"A most ingenious paradox!
We've quips and quibbles heard in flocks,
But none to beat this paradox!
A paradox, a paradox,
A most ingenious paradox!"

Frederic (who was born on Feb 29):
"How quaint the ways of Paradox!
At common sense she gaily mocks!
Though counting in the usual way,
Years twenty-one I've been alive,
Yet, reck'ning by my natal day,
Yet, reck'ning by my natal day,
I am a little boy of five!"
Gilbert and Sullivan, The Pirates of Penzance, 1880.

This week's theme: words about words.


What is the purpose of the giant sequoia tree? The purpose of the giant sequoia tree is to provide shade for the tiny titmouse. -Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

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