How to Write an Oxymoron
In order to use an oxymoron, it is important to remember the parts of an oxymoron:
- One statement or characteristic
- An apparently contradictory statement or characteristic
To use an oxymoron,
- Combine the above apparently contradictory statements or characteristics in a thoughtful, witty, or dramatic way.
For example, imagine a description of running. Running has a variety of effects. For one, it can be painful—physical exertion causes pain and even injury to athletes.
- First characteristic: painful
On the other hand, running is highly pleasurable to some, with the runner’s high, a well-earned trim physique, and enjoyment from working out one’s body.
- Second characteristic: pleasurable
In order to create an oxymoronic statement, combine the two characteristics:
Running fills me with a painful pleasure.
In the above sentence, “painful pleasure” is a contradictory phrase, but its meaning makes sense in light of running’s contradictory but complementary effects.
When to use Oxymoron
Oxymoron is a literary device which may serve to provoke thought, gain a few laughs, or dramatize a situation. Oxymora may be used in everyday speech, poems, plays, prose, speeches, movies, television shows, and songs for comedic or dramatic effects. Of course, comedic and tragic effects are not useful in all venues. Oxymora, which bends logic and encourages thoughtfulness, would not be considered appropriate in technical writing which prizes literal, unchallenging, and simple prose.