Examples of Oxymorons and Lesson Plan

Teach Figurative Language With Flocabulary

Listen to Flocabulary’s new, free Figurative Language song. You’ll learn all about osymorons, as well as metaphors, simile and more.

Zombies

Zombies, the walking Oxymoron

OXYMORON

Definition: A figure of speech where two contradictory words are placed together. The result is something paradoxical, or something that doesn’t make sense. Basic examples are expressions like jumbo shrimp or old news, but they can get more complicated and expressive.

Why Writers Use It: Oxymoron comes from a Greek word meaning “pointedly foolish.” And that relates to how writers use oxymorons. Oxymorons are often inserted to highlight absurdities, or to explain complicated or intense feelings—so complicated that they can only be explained by words that don’t make sense.

Feeling like words just can’t express how you’re feeling? Try an oxymoron.

Jumbo Shrimp

Jumbo Shrimp, recently elected mascot of the Oxymorons

Hip-hop Examples

“…and wanna silence me. They wanna do me violence, but even my silence speaks.”
-Kenyatta

“My sleeves are stuffed with better ways to say things
I pull them out at the first hint of the spell breaking
Real magic making for an honorable mention”
-Despot

“The proper crop of jumbo shrimp
-Suga Free

“Poor Lil Rich”
-a song by 50 Cent

Oxymoron Examples in Shakespeare and Other Literature

Shakespeare loved a good oxymoron…

“O brawling love! O loving hate! . . .
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.
Romeo and Juliet

“I must be cruel, only to be kind”
-Hamlet, in Hamlet…the original Zombie movie play

“Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.”
-Moby Dick

Other Oxymoron examples

“A yawn may be defined as a silent yell.” -G.K. Chesterton

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.” -W.C. Fields

Check out this massive list of oxymorons here.

Share your favorite Oxymoron examples in the comments! Next week, we’ll be back with the smooth sounds of assonance!

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