Ever wondered how your favorite plays, dramas, poems, novels, and movies would be like if figures of speech and other literary devices never existed? Everything we read and write would be nothing but plain and redundant in form. Simile and metaphor examples, hyperbole expressions, oxymorons, and other literary tools greatly influences one’s writing in a variety of ways.
Oxymorons are extremely helpful in both spoken and written English due to how it adds a dramatic, and sometimes comedic, effect to a narrative or speech. But sometimes, we are oblivious of how often we tend to use two words with opposite meanings together because of how common and widely-accepted oxymorons have become in the normal English language.
An oxymoron (usually referred to as oxymorons or oxymora in its plural form) is a type of figure of speech in which a set of contradictory terms are put together to create a rhetorical effect. However, these opposite words don’t always have to appear side by side. The term oxymoron is derived from the Greek words oxys and moros which means “sharp” and “dull” respectively. As you may have learned from school, an oxymoron is a compressed paradox. But what makes an oxymoron different from a paradox is how it can create a dramatic effect, yet still fail to make literal sense.
An oxymoron has become a special part of the English language because of how it allows a reader to really think things through. At first, it makes a person question the use of such differing words in the same line, but it also produces a rather puzzling effect that can also be quite engaging. Putting two opposite words together is a great way to add a touch of color to your narratives for your audience to enjoy.
Why do most writers and speakers feel the need to use words and phrases that do not appear to make logical sense?
For one thing, using oxymorons is more than just about sounding good. Imagine if an author or speaker decides to use simple sentences all the time without the help of any literary or rhetorical devices, won’t it sound a bit too dull and robotic to keep listeners and readers engrossed?
The following are just some significant functions of oxymorons in literature and everyday life.
Labeling an important time in your life as a “beautiful tragedy” says a lot about your thoughts and emotions towards that particular event. Such a phrase shows that an object can be described in two different ways, allowing one to fully assess what is given. For instance, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet may be referred to as a beautiful tragedy for many reasons. Although its bitter end isn’t exactly everyone’s perception of a happily ever after, the story still depicts love and sacrifice in it’s purest form.
Let’s take this for example:
“Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O anything, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
Dost thou not laugh?”
In this scene, a series of oxymorons is used when Romeo battles his mental conflict over the love he holds for an inaccessible woman. An intense outburst of emotions is emphasized when he uses contradictory pairs of words to express his thoughts. The phrases in bold text are just a few examples of oxymorons used in poetry. And if you pay close attention to each line, you may also notice how oxymorons enable Shakespeare to portray Romeo’s bitterness in a poetic and sensible manner.
When someone says the phrase “seriously funny”, then you know that the object being described has to be a whole other level of humorous as oppose to the effect that the word “funny” would normally have. This allows a speaker to describe an individual or object in a way that is different than what one would usually expect. When an oxymoron is used in a phrase or sentence, you get taken aback for awhile to fully comprehend what has just been stated. You start to wonder why the author or speaker would even use these words in a sentence and whether or not it makes perfect sense. This makes the piece seem more unique and appealing to the average individual.
In some cases, people like to use oxymorons just to seem witty in front of their audience. The words come out so naturally that nobody would even notice how odd it really sounds. There’s no denying how strange and somehow comical some conflicting terms can sound when they are combined together, making it the perfect tool for entertainment. You can say these words with a straight face, but people who are clever enough to catch on will immediately notice your sense of wit.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, you have probably used, or at least heard from someone else, a number of good oxymorons in your writings and dialogues. These phrases often help us convey a given thought better than words in its normal form can. It may seem awkward at first, but you’ll come to realize how they can accurately express the things that run through our mind.
Listed below are just a few of the most common examples of oxymorons in everyday speech:
Not everyone fully understands how oxymorons function in a sentence. But by using these oxymorons in its proper context, it will help provide a better clue of how and why they are used in literature and everyday speech. With that being said, here are some clever oxymoron examples in the form of sentences:
Along with many other literary devices, oxymorons are used for a variety of reasons. They can be used to create drama in order to engage a reader or listener, and they can also be used to add a theatrical effect that can either make a person laugh or ponder on a given thought. While oxymorons serve as a great tool for expressing profound declarations and satire in narratives, they can still be used in everyday conversations to show an innocent form of humor.