in rhetoric, "a figure conjoining words or terms apparently contradictory so as to give point to the statement or expression," 1650s, from Greek oxymōron, noun use of neuter of oxymōros (adj.) "pointedly foolish," from oxys "sharp, pointed" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + mōros "stupid" (see moron). The word itself is an illustration of the thing. Now often used loosely to mean "contradiction in terms." Related: Oxymoronic.
Entries linking to oxymoron
It forms all or part of: acacia; acanthus; accipiter; acer; acerbic; acerbity; acervate; acervulus; acescent; acetic; acid; acicular; acme; acne; acrid; acridity; acrimony; acro-; acrobat; acromegaly; acronym; acrophobia; acropolis; acrostic; acrylic; acuity; aculeate; acumen; acupressure; acupuncture; acute; aglet; ague; Akron; anoxic; awn; coelacanth; dioxin; deoxy-; eager; ear (n.2) "grain part of corn;" edge (n.); egg (v.) "to goad on, incite;" eglantine; epoxy; ester; exacerbation; hammer; hypoxia; mediocre; oxalic; oxide; oxy-; oxygen; oxymoron; paragon; pyracanth; paroxysm; selvage; vinegar.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek akros "at the end, at the top, outermost; consummate, excellent," akis "sharp point," akros "at the farthest point, highest, outermost," akantha "thorn," akme "summit, edge," oxys "sharp, bitter;" Sanskrit acri- "corner, edge," acani- "point of an arrow," asrih "edge;" Oscan akrid (ablative singular) "sharply;" Latin acer (fem. acris) "sharp to the senses, pungent, bitter, eager, fierce," acutus "sharp, pointed," acuere "to sharpen," acerbus "harsh, bitter," acere "be sharp, be bitter," acus "a needle, pin," ocris "jagged mountain;" Lithuanian ašmuo "sharpness," akstis "sharp stick;" Old Lithuanian aštras, Lithuanian aštrus "sharp;" Old Church Slavonic ostru, Russian óstryj "sharp;" Old Irish er "high;" Welsh ochr "edge, corner, border;" Old Norse eggja "goad;" Old English ecg "sword;" German Eck "corner."
1910, medical Latin, "one of the highest class of feeble-minded persons," from Greek (Attic) mōron, neuter of mōros "foolish, dull, sluggish, stupid," a word of uncertain origin. The former connection with Sanskrit murah "idiotic" (see moratorium) is in doubt. Latin morus "foolish" is a loan-word from Greek.
Adopted by the American Association for the Study of the Feeble-minded with a technical definition "adult with a mental age between 8 and 12;" used as an insult since 1922 and subsequently dropped from technical use. Linnæus had introduced morisis "idiocy."
The feeble-minded may be divided into: (1) Those who are totally arrested before the age of three so that they show the attainment of a two-year-old child or less; these are the idiots. (2) Those so retarded that they become permanently arrested between the ages of three and seven; these are imbeciles. (3) Those so retarded that they become arrested between the ages of seven and twelve; these were formerly called feeble-minded, the same term that is applied to the whole group. We are now proposing to call them morons, this word being the Greek for "fool." The English word "fool" as formerly used describes exactly this grade of child—one who is deficient in judgment or sense. [Henry H. Goddard, in "Journal of Proceedings and Addresses" of the National Education Association of the United States, July 1910]