Words & Stuff

An Assortment of Oxymorons

(18 July 1999)

Many of these aren't very good oxymorons, but most of them were cited as oxymorons in one context or another. (Also, calling many of them oxymorons insults various people and groups of people; such insults are not intended to represent my opinion about those people and groups.) About three quarters of the items here come from a couple of anonymously email-circulated oxymoron lists. For more information about types of oxymorons, see column ooo.

Act naturally
Acute dullness
Advanced BASIC
Airline food
Almost exactly
Almost perfect
Alone together
Athletic scholarship
Bad health
Bittersweet
Blameless culprit
British fashion
Business ethics
Butthead
California culture
Cardinal sin
Childproof
Christian Scientists
Clearly confused
Clearly misunderstood
Computer jock
Computer security
Conservative liberal
Constant variable
Definite maybe
Diet ice cream
Divorce court
Deliberately thoughtless
Dry wine
Even odds
Exact estimate
Extensive briefing
Fish farm
Found missing
Freezer burn
Fresh frozen
Friendly takeover
Shyy-oybja rerpgvba (off-color; rot-13 encoded)
Full-size thumbnails
Genuine imitation
Good grief
Government organization
Hard water
Holy war
Home office
Honorable Justice Clarence Thomas
Idiot savant
Instant classic
Intense apathy
Jumbo shrimp
Justifiably paranoid
Larger half
Least favorite
Legally drunk
Linear curve
Liquid crystals
Liquid gas
Living dead
Married life
Microsoft Works
Mild interest
Military intelligence
Minor miracle
Modern history
New classic (see also "Instant classic")
Non-alcoholic beer
Nondairy creamer
Normal deviation
"Now, then..."
Oddly appropriate
Old news
Only choice
Open secret
Original copies
Passive aggression
Peace force
Plastic glasses
Player coach
Political science
Postal service
Pretty ugly
Qualified success
Quality television
Randomly organized
Rap music
Reagan's memoirs
Real potential
Really imaginary
Religious tolerance
Resident alien
Rock opera
Rolling stop
Safe sex
Same difference
Sanitary landfill
Silent scream
Simply superb
Slightly pregnant
Small crowd
Soft rock
Software documentation
Sure unpredictable
Sweet sorrow
Synthetic natural gas
Taped live (I once saw a TV show that flashed the word "LIVE!" across the bottom of the screen, and a moment later added, "Taped earlier.")
Temporary tax increase
Terribly enjoyable
Terribly pleased
Tight slacks
Toronto Life
Tragicomedy
Twelve-ounce pound cake
Unbiased opinion
Unpleasant nostalgia
Unsung hero
User-friendly computer
Vaguely aware
Very unique
Victimless crime
War games
Working vacation


Jed Hartman <logophilia@kith.org>