Term: Oxymoron

Oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two terms appear to contradict each other. Some examples have become so familiar that we hardly notice the contradiction, eg deafening silence. The word comes from the Greek: oxus ('sharp') and mōros ('foolish').

How to use this term

David Harsent's 'Sniper' observes a woman 'running slowly' - the oxymoron in this image, explained a moment later as her 'running not to spill', causes a reader to pause to picture what this looks like, and to consider the urgency of her need to run through this war-torn place with her precious water.

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Daljit Nagra

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation.

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I'm troubled, as you can tell by my introduction, about comic verse. Comic verse gets bad press because rigid notions of comedy foreground throwaway poems. Surely the best comedy is when the poem surprises us into laughter rather than setting up t... >