Tag Archives: figure of speech


Two days ago, we talked about oxymoron, which is a figure of speech that is made of two or more words with contradictory meaning. If you want to read the article on oxymoron, CLICK HERE.

Today, we are going to talk about its sibling, paradox. Both have similar features and are often mixed up.

Penrose triangle (picture by Wikipedia)

What is a paradox? The word paradox came from Latin word ‘paradoxum’, which came from Greek word ‘paradoxon’, which means ‘contrary to expectation.’

Just as an oxymoron, a paradox is also a figure of speech. Furthermore, it is a rhetorical device that seems to contradict itself, but actually has some truth to it.

Does this confuse you, fellas? To put it simply, a paradox is a statement that is logical but contrary to our expectation.


  1. “The only constant thing is change (Indonesian: satu-satunya hal yang tidak pernah berubah adalah perubahan).”
    Explanation: nothing in life is constant, except change. Change happens all the time, to everything, and to everyone, which makes it constant.
  2. “Failure leads to success (Indonesian: kegagalan adalah sukses yang tertunda).”
    Explanation: by failing over and over again, it means we keep trying and it might mean that someday we will be successful.
  3. “Social media brought us apart and brought us together (Indonesian: media sosial mendekatkan yang jauh dan menjauhkan yang dekat).”
    Explanation: focusing on social media often makes us ignore the people who are physically present around us.
  4. “The more you learn, the less you know (Indonesian: seperti padi, semakin berisi, semakin merunduk).”
    Explanation: the more knowledgeable we are, the more we will realise that there are so many things of which we have little knowledge.
  5. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend (Indonesian: musuh dari musuh saya adalah sekutu saya).”
    Explanation: meeting another enemy could easily make someone our enemy, too, but sometimes they can become our friend out of a mutual dislike towards someone else.

How do paradox and oxymoron differ?
How do we differentiate a paradox and an oxymoron when we see them in a sentence? The key is to remember that an oxymoron is made of words that have opposite meanings, while a paradox is a collection of words that contradicts itself. Check our sources below for complete reading.


Do you have a favourite paradox, fellas? Share it with us.

Compiled by @alicesaraswati for @EnglishTips4U on Saturday, 21 November 2020.

#EngClass: Oxymoron
#EngClass: Simile
#EngClass: Simile and Metaphor
#EngClass: Simile with “As”
#EngTrivia: Anastrophe


Are you familiar with the word ‘oxymoron’, fellas? No, it has very little to do with the m-word except that they both came from the same Greek word mōros, which means ‘foolish’.

Oxymoron came from the Greek word oksús, which means ‘sharp’, ‘keen’, or ‘pointed’, and mōros which means ‘foolish’. So, it directly translates to ‘sharply (or smartly) foolish’.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an oxymoron (plural form ‘oxymorons’ or the less used ‘oxymora’) is a combination of contradictory words. Based on the literal meanings from the two Greek words, an oxymoron is autological or homological, which means the meaning of the word applies to itself, i.e.: an oxymoron is also an oxymoron.

Simply put, an oxymoron is a figure of speech (or ‘majas’ in Indonesian) made of two or more words that have opposite meanings.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com


  1. Bittersweet (‘bitter’ and ‘sweet’ have opposite meanings).
    “Such a bittersweet feeling overwhelms me whenever I think about the good old days.”
  2. Living dead (‘living’ and ‘dead’ have opposite meanings).
    “I’m so tired of movies with zombies or the living dead.”
  3. Deafening silence (‘deafening’ means making someone deaf because of how loud the sound is, whilst ‘silence’ means a situation where there is no sound).
    “The silence that followed the brief speech was deafening.”
  4. Pretty awful (‘pretty’ and ‘awful’ are contradictory in meanings, but ‘pretty’ is used here as an intensifier, to strengthen the word ‘awful’).
    “The singer sounds pretty awful; I think he should never give up his day job.”
  5. Love-hate (‘love’ and ‘hate’ are contradictory).
    “I have a love-hate relationship with social media; can’t live with it, can’t live without it.”

It’s pretty easy, isn’t it? The purpose of using figures of speech like oxymorons is to make your language output (writing, speaking) more colourful. Can you mention other examples of oxymorons, fellas?

@Keystone_Eng: I like:
Act naturally!
A small crowd
It’s your only choice

~ pretty ugly
~ social distancing
~ cleverly stupid

Compiled by @alicesaraswati for @EnglishTips4U on Thursday, 19 November 2020.

#EngClass: Simile
#EngClass: Simile and Metaphor
#EngGame: Homophones
#EngTrivia: Anastrophe
#EngTrivia: Simile with “As”