How to ... Identify an Oxymoron
when you come across one in Literature
/ˌɑːksɪˈmɔːrɑːn/ (International Phonetic Alphabet)
Etymology and Definition
It is a literary device that combines contradictory terms to create an intriguing effect. This technique puts two opposite words together to form a phrase that may seem illogical at first but eventually makes sense.
The word "oxymoron" comes from the Greek words "oxus", sharp, and "moros,", dull. The combination of these two words creates an oxymoron in itself, as they are opposing in meaning.
Examples of oxymorons are found in literature and everyday speech. Some of the most popular include:
- The only sound in the abandoned house was the deafening silence that filled every room.
- The zombie movie was full of living dead characters who roamed the earth in search of brains to eat.
- The dress she wore to the party was pretty ugly, with its garish colors and ill-fitting design.
- The video game allowed players to enter a virtual reality where they could explore fantastical worlds and battle fierce enemies.
Here are some key vocabulary words and their definitions:
- Oxymoron: A figure of speech that combines two contradictory terms to create an intriguing effect.
- Contradictory: Expressing the opposite of one another; incompatible or conflicting.
With the following guide, you'll be able to spot oxymorons in literature like a pro. Just follow these steps and you'll soon be recognizing them with ease!
- - A literary text
- - A basic understanding of metaphor
- - A highlighter or pen
Read the literary text thoroughly, check any word that seems unknown to you.
- Identify the basic elements of an oxymoron - keep in mind it's a figure of speech that combines two contradictory terms to create an intriguing effect.
- Look for phrases in the text that contain opposing or contrasting ideas, such as "deafening silence," or "pretty ugly."
- Highlight or underline these phrases as you come across them.
- Consider the effect of each oxymoron you've identified. Is it being used for emphasis, humor, or irony? How does it contribute to the overall meaning of the text?
- Practice finding oxymorons in various literary texts to enhance your skills.
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