Oxymoron Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 What Are Oxymorons?
  • 0:50 Why Use Oxymorons?
  • 2:09 Examples of Oxymorons
  • 3:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Molly Margeson

Molly has taught SAT preparatory material and courses for the past two years and has a master's degree in English with a focus in creative writing.

Sometimes when we speak, we use a descriptive phrase that goes by the funny sounding name 'oxymoron.' In this lesson, we'll learn about oxymorons, how to identify them, and how to use them.

What Are Oxymorons?

An oxymoron is a phrase made of two or more words that actually have opposite meanings. You might say that they juxtapose each other, which means, when placed close together, they create an interesting contrasting effect. In fact, the word 'oxymoron' is an oxymoron in itself--oxy is Greek for 'sharp' and moron is Greek for 'dull.'

The phrase jumbo shrimp is a great example of an oxymoron. The word 'jumbo' means huge or gigantic, while the word 'shrimp' means small. When you combine the two words to make the phrase, 'jumbo shrimp,' you are using an oxymoron!

Why Do We Use Oxymorons?

An oxymoron can be used for a few different reasons. You can use these phrases for dramatic descriptions. For example, if you say that something is disgustingly delicious, you're trying to express that you think it tastes really, really good. But the phrase 'disgustingly delicious' sounds so much more dramatic than 'really good.' This is an oxymoron because, technically, something can't be both disgusting and delicious.

These phrases are so interesting because they are two opposites joined together to create one great, descriptive expression. You might also use them because you want people to think hard about what you're saying or maybe you just want to make someone laugh!

Another reason these opposing words are used is because sometimes people don't realize their phrase is an oxymoron. There are so many phrases that people use everyday that don't make very much sense. Since these phrases are used so often by so many people, they become everyday language and commonplace, whether or not they're right or wrong. Some common examples of accidental oxymorons include 'bitter sweet,' 'freezer burn,' and 'definite maybe.'

Examples of Oxymorons


You could create countless oxymorons using various combinations of words, such as the phrases on the chalkboard. Take a look at some more oxymorons in detail:

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