from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined, as in a deafening silence and a mournful optimist.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A figure of speech in which two words with opposing meanings are used together intentionally for effect.
- n. A contradiction in terms.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A figure in which an epithet of a contrary signification is added to a word; e. g., cruel kindness; laborious idleness.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In rhetoric, a figure consisting in adding to a word an epithet or qualification apparently contradictory; in general, close connection of two words seemingly opposed to each other (as, cruel kindness; to make haste slowly); an expression made epigrammatic or pointed by seeming self-contradictory.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. conjoining contradictory terms (as in `deafening silence')
Greek oxumōron, from neuter of oxumōros, pointedly foolish : oxus, sharp; see oxygen + mōros, foolish, dull.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From 5th century Latin oxymoron, from Ancient Greek ὀξύς (oxus, "sharp") (English oxy-, as in oxygen) + μωρός (mōros, "dull") (English moron ("stupid person")). Literally “sharp-dull”, itself an oxymoron, hence autological; compare sophomore (literally "wise fool"), influenced by similar analysis. The compound form *ὀξύμωρον (oxumōron) is not found in the extant Greek sources. (Wiktionary)