The Rhetorical Term Oxymoron

oxymoronOxymoron is a figure of speech in which seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.

Often we read them as normal unless we think about the incongruity. Some examples I’ve heard and read several times in the past are deafening silence, dull roar, and crash landing.

In Norman in the painting, my novel in progress, I found an oxymoron I used in describing Arctarius’s facial expression. Jill, the protagonist, challenges him about threatening Norman’s life. Arctarius, always the gentleman, gave her a sad smile. The description seems fine, we can visualize it, but sad is contradictory to smile.

Another example in the first draft was when Jill is stabbed by Reggie, she plays dead with a silent scream in her throat.

Do you have a pet Oxymoron?


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For over twenty-five years, I've taught elementary grades, high school, and county special education classes. Now I am a field supervisor for teachers working toward their teaching credentials. I also teach writing classes in Dublin and Pleasanton, California. I have won 5 awards in short story contests, My stories are published in The California Writers Club Literary Review, and several anthologies including four times in Las Positas College collections. I have several book projects, but the two that have my immediate attention are HADA'S FOG, which is women's fiction, LILLI, a YA novel, and NORMAN IN THE PICTURE, a paranormal mystery. I have published an anthology WRITTEN ACROSS THE GENRES that includes writings from members of my writing classes and other writers. It's available on Amazon and Kindle.

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