For this week’s 2 on 1 Friday post, Shackman  sent this message to me.
“List your 5 favorite oxymorons, what they mean and why you like them.”

Let me start off by defining the term Oxymoron.

An oxymoron is a figure of speech where two words of opposed or contradictory meaning are used together to create emphasis. While some oxymorons are created by accident – such as “small crowd” – sometimes they are used deliberately to draw attention to something or to create drama for the reader or listener.

My first choice will be:

Deafening Silence.  Means total silence.  If you split the two words, the first one indicates loudness and the second total silence.  How fascinating!

The next one would be:

Clearly misunderstood. Means that the recipient of the message has not understood the message at all.  The first word would indicate clarity and the second misunderstanding. How can one misunderstand something that is clear?  The inanity of the combination fascinates me.

The next one would be:

Friendly take-over. This is a business operation where one company takes over the control and management of the other.  The first word would mean amity and the second a grabbing of another’s property.  While in practice what this means is that the majority shareholders have agreed to sell their stake at an agreed to price, the minority and the employees and other stake holders can whistle at the change.  I have not come across any instance of it internally being a friendly move for the taken over and that  is why it fascinates me.

The next would be:

Jumbo shrimp.  A large sized shrimp.  Jumbo would indicated an elephantine size and shrimp in popular usage is for something tiny.  The combination is ridiculous for its usage as the correct name could well be Giant Prawn which is in someways another oxymoron!

The next and most intriguing would be:

Living dead. Does this really need an explanation?  I am yet to meet a living dead entity but keep reading about such people.  It simply does not make any sense whatsoever to use this oxymoron for its sheer stupidity.

Please go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about this fascinating topic.

22 thoughts on “Oxymorons.”

  1. it IS fun!
    and I’ll be looking for oxymorons now. never noticed them that much before.
    a line in a movie just came to me. but it’s not a true oxymoron probably.
    in The Long Long Trailer Lucille Ball tells her husband “turn left right here!”
    am I remembering it correctly Shack?
    you both had great examples! but not sure mine qualifies as a true oxymoron.
    time to go back to school Tammy. 🙂

  2. “Clearly misunderstood” is ambiguous – I always thought it as that it’s clear to the sender that the recipient misunderstood.

    As to the “living dead”, in today’s corporate and ever more bewildering world you will find it’s a rather apt description for those who live their little cog in a big wheel and feel dead inside. I have not experienced this personally but have been told by a number of people so afflicted. One might even apply the expression to people suffering from severe clinical depression. Particularly those on medication turning them into Zombies.

    The great thing about oxymorons is that they are so descriptive.

    From the motherland when things go seriously wrong: “Schoene Scheisse” – beautiful shit. Maybe one for Trump and his varnished turds.

    And then there is “virtual reality”. If ever there was a contradiction in terms.


    1. Here are some more to amuse you.

      1) Act Naturally
      2) Exact Estimate
      3) Small Crowd
      4) Act Naturally
      5) Found Missing
      6) Fully Empty
      7) Pretty Ugly
      8) Seriously Funny
      9) Only Choice
      10) Original Copies
      11) Open Secret
      12) Tragic Comedy
      13) Foolish Wisdom
      14) Liquid Gas.

      And a killer – Happily Married.

      1. “Act naturally” is, of course, very good advice; particularly when you are an actor.

        “Exact estimate” makes me roar with the laughter that comes when you recognize the very concept.

        “Small Crowd”? Hmm; that’s actually possible if you work under the assumption that more than two make a crowd; you had expected thousands, in which case a few hundred is not so much an oxymoron as a disappointment.

        “Found missing” – whenever my boss found one of us missing she used to call it AWOL (absent without leave).

        “Fully empty” is permissible. Particularly if you are a half full, half empty person. To then find your glass fully empty has potential to tip you over the edge if you don’t have the means to fill your empty glass fully.

        “Pretty ugly” – not quite ugly, just a little not beautiful.

        “Seriously funny” I adore. It’s the superlative mounted on a superlative.

        “Only choice”? That’s tragic. You were under an illusion. To end up with no choice.

        “Open Secret” even more tragic than no choice. It’s a game of pretending.

        “Tragic Comedy”. Laugh, cry – according to your temperament. Or, best, do both.

        “Happily Married” can’t see the killer there. I was happily married twice till our ways (organically as it were) parted. No oxymoron there. On the other hand – and I won’t make myself any friends here, I have come to doubt the wisdom of getting married. I hope both you and Shackman, given your history, will forgive me.


  3. I have never once thought of any of those phrases as oxymorons! Friendly takeover stands out to me, when does an oxymoron become a blatant lie?

  4. “Clearly misunderstood” and “jumbo shrimp” are not oxymorons. Clearly misunderstood means it’s clear to someone that another person misunderstood something, and shrimp in jumbo shrimp refers to the crustacean, not to a small person. Calling a person a jumbo shrimp might be an oxymoron, but I doubt anyone would use the term.

    1. Welcome to the club John. Indeed all of us do and that is the beauty of them. And how true that the living dead are everywhere! Now you can see them even walking around with a gadget in their hands completely lost to the world.

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