Who doesn’t love an Oxymoron? I mean, really. Those Oxymorons are some of the best parts of our speech. The word comes from our old, crusty, Greek friends in togas. The two ancient Greek words are oxys, which means “sharp,” and moronos, which means “dull” or “stupid.”
If we could side track for a moment. When I hear Oxymoron, I always think something has gone terribly wrong with the laundry. Like, someone snuck in and added way too much of some sort of Oxy-cleaner into the washing machine. Hence, the Oxymoron. But fear not. The clothes will come out cleaner than ever. It is just that some may have large, gaping holes.
Back to the reality of the scheme. The Oxymoron, then, combines the sharp with the dull. The bright with the dim. The smart with the stupid. An example, would be: “There was a minor crisis at the doughnut factory, and our only choice was to add more chocolate sprinkles.”
There are two oxymorons in that sentence: 1. minor crisis 2. only choice
The English language can be daunting for someone just learning. Heck, it can be daunting for certain people who claim to have spoken it their entire lives. But, one may ask, how can something be the only choice? Is there such a thing as a minor crisis, by the very definition of crisis?
Anyway. There are some good oxymorons out there.
• awful good — This is a nice one. That ice cream at the factory? It was awful good. Bleccchhh. Yay. Bleccchhh. Yay.
You see how it goes.
One of my historical favorites, but truly, not a favorite at all?
• civil war
Quit frequently, when I write this blog, I am
•. clearly misunderstood
Then, of course, we all HOPE we never know this one:
• crash landing
On the home front. We’ve all had work done on our houses. The contractor usually gives us an:
• exact estimate
I’m not very smart in the business world. The big ships of corporations blowing their horns back and forth. I’ve never quite understood the:
• friendly takeover
I am always sad to hear when people are in this condition. I assume it isn’t good, but from the oxymoron, it is sometimes hard to tell.
• ill health
Back to the crash on the runway. It was “this” that anyone survived.
• minor miracle
And, I’ve saved my favorite for last, because truly, truly, there is no such thing:
• unbiased opinion
We use them all the time in our everyday speech. That is for sure. In fact, just this week, I was an “anxious patient.”
Language is a powerful tool. Words can do a tremendous amount of good. They can also cause great harm. It all depends on how those tidbits from our brains filter down to our mouths.
Which brings me to a cute, little Wordsy-Poem to help us on our way.
“Be careful of the words you say,
Keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day,
Which ones you’ll have to eat.”
Mmmm. Mmmmm. Good.
“I like good strong words that mean something.”
—Louisa May Alcott (from “Little Women”)
“A great many people think that polysyllables are a sign of intelligence.”
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”