“Oxymoron” for Writers

June 17, 2009

oxymoron-799173Definition of “Oxymoron” 

A figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear side by side.



Some of my favorite examples:

open secret                           pretty ugly
free love                                 military intelligence
extinct life                             working holiday
freezer burn                           silent scream
near miss                                crash landing
taped live                               peacekeeper missile
old news                                 original copies

The following quote is one of the most famous usages of oxymorons of all time to writers. At the very least it’s an excellent illustration of how this device can be used in prose.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . .,”

 Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

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