Oxymoron: Figure that binds together TWO words that are ordinarily contradictory; a TWO WORD paradox; two words with contrary or apparently contradictory meanings occurring next to each other, and, which, nonetheless, evoke some measure of truth; the figure conjures a new way of seeing or understanding, a novel meaning.

 

 

Example  
"...And it is important that the Iraqi people continue to reject these terrorists, who know nothing but violence and destruction, who do not care about the future of Iraq, who do not care about the future of the Iraqi people. These cold acts of terrorism like this have gone on far too long. Together, we can put a stop to this, and we must throw these heartless zealots out of this country for good."

-- Lieutenant General Raymond T. Odierno, 07/26/07 Press Briefing

Note 1: A zealot may be many things -- "dauntless" "stainless," "mindless," even "bathless" -- but not heartless. The word "zealot" is closely related to the word "zeal," a notion that typically entails radical ideology wedded to fervent emotional commitment. A zealot especially may not be characterized or even faulted for a lack of "heart," as this aspect is embedded within the very definition of the term. Lieutenant General Odierno likely means that these zealots don't care about the havoc they wreak upon the peace-desiring citizens of Iraq. The sentiment is entirely understandable. However, these zealots do care, care enough, in fact, to commit the very acts for which they are being charged as "heartless." What zealots can be faulted for is having a heart in the wrong place. In this case, Iraq may well have no place for this particular brand of zealotry.

Note 2: Odierno makes effective use of anaphora. Can you spot it?

You know, this moment right here, it's -- it's unbelievably believable. You know, it's unbelievable because in the moment, we're all amazed when great things happen. But it's believable because, you know, great things don't happen without hard work.

-- Robert Griffin III, 2011 Heisman Trophy Acceptance Address

Robert Griffin III Wins Heisman Trophy_2
"Safe sex -- now there's an oxymoron. That's like 'tactical Nuke' or 'adult male.'"

-- delivered by Tim Curry (from the movie Lover's Knot)

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