Monday, March 12, 2007


An oxymoron is a phrase that has words that seem to have opposite meanings. Studying oxymorons is a very interesting way to think about and learn vocabulary.
Here are some examples of oxymorons:
-a new classic
-dry wine
-fresh frozen
-pretty ugly

At this site, you'll find a very long list of oxymorons that people have sent in to the editor. Some of them are serious oxymorons, and some are funny. Sometimes they are oxymorons because one of the words has a double meaning (pretty ugly).

Make a list of 5 or 6 oxymorons from the list. Why are they oxymorons? What are the words that have opposite meanings? What are the opposite meanings? Are they really opposite or is there another xplanation (a double meaning, for example)? Are they serious or funny oxymorons?


  1. ็ำHello teacher Vanessa

    Thank you for this topic. This is my first time that I heard this word. I found a website which explains the "oxymoron" meaning

    My oxymoron lists.

    - friendly war
    Both words are opposite meaning and I think this is not quite serious word. It seem like to use when describe some competition which does not use their full effort.

    - Half full
    Yes, again they are opposite meaning. I think it means "not 100%" .

    - Light armor
    they are opposite meaning. The meaning is some protector which is endurable less that Heavy armor.

    -rock opera
    Hmm, I don't know this meaning but when I read it. I feel a bit funny when I imagine about the opera band and they wear such rock suit. The music rock is mixed with opera :P

    - Windows XP
    Is this also oxymoron word ????? or is there another meaning ?

    A lot of words I think should be normal word. Anyway I am curious that which one is double meaning(pretty ugly). Could you give us a few examples please :)

    See you ~ Bye bye <-- are they opposite meaning or oxymoron ?


  2. Tai

    "pretty" in "pretty ugly" is an intensifier - meaning "nearly so" or "just about" used like a toned down "very"

    you could also say "pretty dirty" or "pretty clean"

  3. Teacher Vanessa

    If that so can I say "I am very hungry or I am pretty ugly hungry"

    Does "Window XP" have second meaning ? Why it was put in the oxymoroslist ?

    Could I guess right or wrong in my oxymoron lists ?

    Thank you in advance.

  4. I suspect "Windows XP" as an oxymoron is a joke by someone who does not like Windows XP. I am not sure what the XP stands for. Do you know?

    You did well with your oxymoron list. Make sure though that you try to come up with your own oxymorons rather than getting them from online lists.

    (supposedly) Largest oxymoron list on the internet.

    Top 20 Oxymorons:
    20. Government Organization
    19. Alone Together
    18. Personal Computer
    17. Silent Scream
    16. Living Dead
    15. Same Difference
    14. Taped Live
    13. Plastic Glasses
    12. Tight Slacks
    11. Peace Force
    10. Pretty Ugly
    9. Head Butt
    8. Working Vacation
    7. Tax Return
    6. Virtual Reality
    5. Dodge Ram
    4. Work Party
    3. Jumbo Shrimp
    2. Healthy Tan
    1. Microsoft Works

    (no doubt submitted by somone who thinks Microsoft does not work well)

    Wikipedia article about oxymorons

    From the article:
    "An oxymoron (plural oxymora or, more commonly, oxymorons) (noun) is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms. Oxymoron is a Greek term derived from oxy ("sharp") and moros ("dull"). In Japan they say "sharp-dull" The meaning is "that which is sharp and dull," thereby designating and also exhibiting an opposition between two adjectives which serve as predicates for one subject"

  5. Ahh yes, window Xp or Microsoft might be something whis is dealing with Bill Gates I thing..anyway, I don't understand why people (a lot) don't like him, such as if look at Google, they suport Firefix or linux instead for microsoft.

  6. oop!! "I think" not "I thing"

  7. Dear Vanessa!
    Thank you for this site! I think that is one of ways to enlarge a personal vocabulary and to make our writings more vivid.

    My oxymoron list:

    Alone Together
    Both words are opposite meaning and I think that this phrase uses for joke meaning.

    Silent Scream
    Both words are opposite meaning too and I suppose this phrase very useful in literature for description a face mimic.

    Same Difference
    Very useful phrase in everyday speech even so meanings of words are opposite.

    Living Dead
    It is a bright phrase and despite her unpleasantness uses for description an indifferent people.

    Pretty Ugly
    I understood that word "pretty" is booster of intension to word "ugly" and I want to know: can I to use these words in reverse order as like "Ugly Pretty"? Of course, the meaning of phrase will be change.


  8. "Alone together" is an oxymorion but not really one with a joke meaning (as so many are, intentionally or not - but that's another story).

    When a couple is alone - no one else around - they are also together - hence "alone together'

    "Silent Scream" does NOT describe a face mimic. It refers to screaming on the inside without making a sound

    nope - you can't use "ugly" that way and make sense

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Hi all,

    my oxymoron list is:

    -Baby giant: Both of the words are opposite. In my opinion, the phrase describes baby who is big in the comparaison of others babies in the same age.

    -Silent women: this oxymoron is used for fun. The men impeach all the women to be talkative.

    -The peace war: Both of the words are opposite. I think this phrase is used to describes war which has as justification the peace seeking.

    -Anarchy rules: both of the words have contradictory meanings. The rules is supposed to deal with anarchy.

    - EASY problem: I don't think the two words have the opposite meanings because, here easy describes the acuity of the problem.

  11. Hi All
    I found that there were many oxymorons in English. I'm very interested in them. I can understand each word of them, but I can't understand most of them as a phrace. I can't find out them on my dictionaries. Where do you find meanings of them?

    My list of oxymorons.

    -silent alarm
    This is very similar to 'silent scream'. Then I guess this means "alarming on inside without making a sound".

    -timeless moment
    Moment is a kind of time. Then "timeless moment" doesn't make any sense.

    -liquid gas
    Both words are opposite meaning. This means liquid which is made from gas.

    -blind viewer
    Both words are opposite. I don't know correct meaning of this. But I guess that he is't blind and he can see but he is sightless like a blindness.

    -close distance
    I'm not sure whether both are opposite. I imagine as close is near and distance is apart, this means "being near but apart".

    Dear Teacher Vanessa, Would you tell me how I can find out meanings of oxymorons?


  12. Hi to all of you out there and especially to our Teacher Vanessa.

    By trying to find oxymorons I leaned some of them and I think it is good.

    I searched on the internet and found many oxymorons and their explanations.

    An oxymoron is a rhetorical figure in which contradictory terms are combined to create new meaning. Some oxymorons are effective and therefore useful, while others are absurd.

    Is a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms (e.g. "deafening silence"). Oxymoron is a Greek term derived from oxy ("sharp") and moros ("dull").

    The word oxymoron is itself an oxymoron! It is derived from two Greek words: oxus meaning "sharp" and moros meaning "dull."

    -Pretty Ugly.
    Here is another blatant oxymoron. Like "awfully good," it results from the colloquial misuse of "pretty" instead of "very." I think that this oxymoron is both funny and serious.

    -Sound of Silence.
    This phrase is definitely an oxymoron, because two clearly opposite terms are combined to create an entirely new meaning. Some messages can be conveyed by saying nothing, not responding or ignoring. We can all relate to an awkward feeling when sitting among people who are saying nothing to us. The silence in our homes can be unsettling when loved ones are absent, or it can be welcome when noisy relatives or children are not around.
    I think that this oxymoron is serious.

    -Living Dead.
    Life forms that are alive cannot be dead, too (unless it's brain dead, which is another issue). Therefore, this phrase is an oxymoron. It is a sarcasm referring to people who think and behave as though they were dead. This oxymoron is funny.

    -Awfully Good.
    Here is a contradiction that is about as clear as they get. How can anything that is awful be good and vice versa? The oxymoron results from the colloquial misuse of "awfully" instead of "very" to modify "good." It is similar to "pretty ugly." This oxymoron I think that is serious.

    -Alone Together.
    Being along and together with anybody else is impossible, so this phrase is an oxymoron. It usually means that a couple is alone, that is, no one else is with them. This oxymoron is serious too I think.

    -Slow Speed.
    This phrase seems contradictory, but upon closer scrutiny we can see that it is all right. In this context, speed means "velocity," not "high velocity." So it literally means "slow velocity," which is not contradictory. This is serious oxymoron too.

    -Constant Change.
    Constant means unchanging, so "constant change" is definitely contradictory. The better construction would be "continual change," which means that change keeps happening.
    This is serious oxymoron too, I think.

    -Plastic Glasses.
    "Plastic implies that the object is made of plastic, "while glasses implies that it is made of glass.


  13. Sadamu
    The internet is probably your best place to look for meanings of oxymorons. Remember too that oxymorons are "figures of speech" and you remember what than meant with metaphors and the like. Don't look for literal meanings.

    "silent alarm" may look like "silent scream" but their meanings are quite different. A silent alarm is a silent burglar alarm that notifies security or the police without making a sound. That way the burglars do not know the police are coming.

    You could have found this out by googling the string "silent alarm." Try this method for the other oxymorons.

    By the way, there is also a music named "Silent Alarm."

  14. Hello
    Teacher Vanessa,

    It has been a bit long time I could not come to the blog, my computer did not work properly it got hang after running some time, so every time I had to restart the computer but now we reinstalled everything so hopefully it will work good now. Though I already told you this blog is like a morning News Paper to me after reading Paper I can't resist myself to sign in the blog . So I missed you all After coming back to the blog I knew you also had some problem with computer. Hope you are doing well with your computer now.

    The topic oxymoron is absolutely new to me. I went to the site you mentioned and there are oxymoron sites in internet. I have found some oxymoron. An oxymoron is a contradictory word pair.
    Here are they:

    Open Secret
    It is not a serious oxymoron it is contradictory phrase secret can not be open but we often use this word some secrets are not that harm to disclose.

    Death Benefit
    I think it is serious oxymoron after death government and some organizations give benefit, these are not opposite words

    Genuine Imitation
    This is I think funny oxymoron this is also a contradictory phrase. This phrase is used when something is imitate very genuinely that it is hard to understand which one is genuine and which one is imitation. Both are opposite words.

    Original Copy
    This is true oxymoron though both are opposite in meaning but they together a complete meaning.


  15. Vanessa

    Thank you very much for your advice. I'll google when I meet new oxymorons.

    I tried to google "faith unfaithful". I found many intereting webs there. I'm interested in looking for them.



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