1. (noun) A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear together. It’s a combination of words that seem to cancel each other out, often used to create a rhetorical effect, reveal a paradox, or illustrate a complex idea.


The phrase “deafening silence” is a classic oxymoron, combining the concept of loud noise with the absence of sound to describe an oppressive or uncomfortable quiet.

Fun Fact

The word “oxymoron” itself comes from the Greek words “oxys” meaning “sharp” or “pointed” and “moros” meaning “dull” or “stupid.” Ironically, the term for a contradiction in terms is itself a combination of contradictory ideas, making “oxymoron” an example of what it describes.