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A closely related term and another point of study for paradox is oxymoron, defined by A Handbook to Literature as “a self-contradictory combination of words” that may take the form of “noun-noun, adjective-adjective, adjective-noun, adverb-adverb, or adverb-verb.” You might think of oxymoron as a shorter paradox. Examples such as “awfully good,” “numb feeling,” and “pronounced silence” certainly seem contradictory. Other examples that you may be familiar with are “bittersweet” and “jumbo shrimp.” The late stand-up comedian George Carlin lists among his favorite oxymorons the following: “original copy,” “authentic reproduction,” “limited lifetime guarantee,” “friendly fire,” and “nondairy creamer.” How are “nondairy” and “creamer” self-contradictory? Use your notes to write your response. When you are finished, check your understanding below.
You might have said that cream is a dairy product; therefore, to advertise the item as “nondairy” and call it “creamer” is contradictory.Close
The word “oxymoron” is an oxymoron. It is derived from Greek words meaning “sharp or pointed” and “dull or foolish.” Examples such as “awfully good,” “numb feeling,” and “pronounced silence” certainly seem contradictory.