What is an oxymoron?

Some people say that phrases like ‘military intelligence’ or ‘honest politician’ are oxymorons (you will have to decide how accurate those are!), or, as in the illustration ‘found missing‘.

An oxymoron is a figure of speech where one part contradicts or cancels out the other making it, in some ways, an impossible combination.

What is an oxymoron? 1For example, the commonly heard ‘pretty ugly’ is a great example of an oxymoron if taken literally. Another good one, often found in furniture shops is a ‘genuine imitation’. There are lots of them – you can find a good starter list below where you can see that there are various examples of oxymora (yes, that’s the plural!) ranging from the bland ‘detailed summary’ to the amusing ‘Microsoft Works’.

As I like the ones that Wikipedia have listed as joke oxymora (note the plural form!) I thought I’d ask you if you had any good examples – so if you have a good example of a joke oxymoron please add it to the comments.

Here are 50 examples to get you started:

The best are left to last!.

50. Act naturally

49. Found missing

48. Resident alien

47. Advanced BASIC

46. Genuine imitation

45. detailed summary

44. Good grief

43. Same difference

42. Almost exactly

41. Government organization

40. Sanitary landfill

39. Alone together

38. Legally drunk

37. Silent scream

36. British fashion

35. Living dead

34. Small crowd

33. Business ethics

32. Soft rock

31. Butt Head

30. Military Intelligence

29. Software documentation

28. New York culture

27. New classic

26. Sweet sorrow

25. Childproof

24. “Now, then …”

23. Synthetic natural gas

22. Christian Scientists

21. Passive aggression

20. Taped live

19. Clearly misunderstood

18. Peace force

17. Extinct Life

16. Temporary tax increase

15. Computer jock

14. Plastic glasses

13. Terribly pleased

12. Computer security

11. Political science

10. Tight slacks

9. Definite maybe

8. Pretty ugly

7. Twelve-ounce pound cake

6. Diet ice cream

5. Rap music

4. Working vacation

3. Exact estimate

2. Religious tolerance

1. Microsoft Works

Do you have any others? Add them to the comments section.

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