Download This Sample
This sample is exclusively for KidsKonnect members!
To download this worksheet, click the button below to signup for free (it only takes a minute) and you'll be brought right back to this page to start the download!
Sign Me Up
An oxymoron (plural: oxymorons or oxymora) is a literary device in which two contradictory ideas appear in conjunction to create a poetic effect. These contrasting ideas may be words or phrases and may be glued together or spaced out in a sentence.
Oxymorons usually come in an “adjective + noun” or “adverb + adjective” format. Here are some of the most common examples:
- Living dead
- Cruel kindness
- Deafening silence
- Open secret
- Controlled chaos
- Sweet misery
- Genuinely fake
- The same difference
- Seriously funny
In many cases, oxymorons are easy to spot because of the obviously opposite meanings of the words in series. However, they can be tricky sometimes, especially if they are written creatively.
- To make haste slowly
- In order to lead, you must walk behind.
Do not confuse oxymorons with paradox, however. While an oxymoron produces a dramatic effect, it usually does not make sense. A paradox, on the other hand, comes in a longer, sentence format and expresses contradiction to the general truth, but it does not contain an implied truth. However, when investigated or explained, it may prove to be well founded or true.
Purposes of Oxymoron
Like many other rhetorical and literary devices, oxymorons can be used to express one’s poetic creativity. One of the most legendary oxymoron phrases is in Act-II, Scene-II of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet — “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” This famous line can appeal to any reader instantly, provoking a feeling of sadness and joy simultaneously. This confusing phrase already manifests the complexities of deep emotions (such as love, goodbyes and anticipation), all in one simple expression.
Aside from being used in poetry and prose, oxymorons can also be used to create a dramatic effect. For instance, if the phrase “painfully beautiful” is used to describe a painting, it provokes that the painting has a two-pronged quality, making it an interesting subject for analysis and interpretation.
Oxymorons can also be used to showcase one’s wit or humor. They can add flavor to one’s speech. For example, the phrase “happily married” is used by marriage-challenged individuals to express sarcasm. In the phrase “naturally weird,” the modifier “naturally” is used to emphasize the contradiction in the thought that one’s weirdness is normal.
Celebrities also use oxymorons to express entertainment and show that they can make the audience laugh by using creative words. Author Oscar Wilde, for instance, recalled that “he can resist anything, except temptation.”
In day-to-day conversations, oxymorons are rarely used, but when they are, it is usually to inject a drama effect to make the listener or reader stop and think, then later laugh or ponder.
Oxymorons in Literature
Aside from “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is loaded with other oxymorons. In Act-I, Scene-I, Romeo strings together 13 expressions in a row:
O brawling love! O loving hate!
O anything of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness, serious vanity!
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
The use of oxymoron phrases is also quite common in other literary works written by famous authors. See list below:
- “hateful good” (Chaucer)
- “proud humility” (Spenser)
- “darkness visible” (Milton)
- “beggarly riches” (John Donne)
- “damn with faint praise” (Pope)
- “expressive silence” (Thomson)
- “melancholy merriment” (Byron)
- “faith unfaithful”, “falsely true” (Tennyson)
- “conventionally unconventional”, “tortuous spontaneity” (Henry James)
- “delighted sorrow”, “loyal treachery”, “scalding coolness” (Hemingway)
Although most oxymorons come in phrases (adjective-noun or adverb-adjective pattern), there are also some that appear as single words. Stop and ponder at these most common ones:
This bundle contains 5 ready-to-use oxymoron worksheets that are perfect to test student knowledge and understanding of what an oxymoron is and how it can be used. You can use these oxymoron worksheets in the classroom with students, or with home schooled children as well.
Link/cite this page
If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.
Link will appear as Oxymoron Examples and Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, July 9, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.