Difference Between Paradox and Oxymoron

Main Difference – Paradox vs Oxymoron

Paradox and Oxymoron are both similar literary devices that use seemingly contradictory things. Paradox is the juxtaposition of seemingly contradictory ideas to reveal a hidden or unexpected truth. Oxymoron is the combination of two opposite words to create a dramatic effect. This is the main difference between paradox and oxymoron.

What is Paradox

Paradox is a literary device where some seemingly contrasting ideas are juxtaposed, in order to reveal a hidden or unexpected truth. A paradox may seem like a self-contradictory, silly statement at first, but upon further analysis, it will reveal a latent truth.

A paradox can be used to make readers think about something in an innovative way. It can be also used to present an idea that is contrary to accepted, traditional concepts.

Some examples of famous paradoxes include,

Less is more

Be cruel to be kind

Your enemy’s enemy is your friend.

“I can resist anything but temptation.”– Oscar Wilde

“It’s weird not to be weird.” – John Lennon

In literature, paradoxes are used to draw attention and incite fresh thought. Paradoxes also add another layer to the meaning of the words. Paradoxes can be categorized as situational or rhetoric. A rhetorical paradox is a seemingly contrasting comment or statement made by a character whereas situational paradox is a situation or circumstance that is contradictory.

Some examples of rhetorical paradoxes include:

“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.

George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”

“Child is father of the man.”

 William Wordsworth’s “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold”,

Here is a situational paradox from the novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions.”Difference Between Paradox and Oxymoron-

What is Oxymoron

Oxymoron is the use of two contradictory words together. The term oxymoron itself is an oxymoron; it comes from Ancient Greek word ‘oxumoron’, made of oxus, meaning “sharp” and moros, meaning “dull”.

Common oxymoron phrases and words include a noun preceded by an adjective. For example, wise fool, cruel kindness, living death, irregular pattern, deafening silence, original copy, controlled chaos, etc.

Examples of Oxymorons in Literature

“And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.”

-Tennyson’s Idylls of the King

“O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!

Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms”

-Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

 “Down the close darkening lanes, they sang their way

To the siding-shed,

And lined the train with faces grimly gay.

– Wilfred Owen’s The Send-OffDifference Between Paradox and Oxymoron

Difference Between Paradox and Oxymoron


Paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement which may prove to be well founded or true upon further analysis.

Oxymoron is apparently contradictory terms that appear in conjunction.


Paradox arrests attention and provokes innovative thought.

Oxymoron creates a dramatic effect.


Paradox can be created using an oxymoron.

Oxymoron can be used to create a paradox.Difference Between Paradox and Oxymoron- infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Paradox” by Brett Jordan  via

“Oxymoron” by   via

About the Author: admin

Related pages

whats the difference between a calzone and a strombolicast iron versus steelwhat is the difference between a phenotype and genotypeworking principle of digital multimeteractive vs passive romthe difference between vascular and nonvascular plantsgrimly mockingproducer surplus diagramis skinny an adjectivewhat is the difference between tragedy and comedya concrete noundifference between sweet basil and holy basilpatience meaning in tagalogprotoplasm definewhat is fertilization in plants definitionneuropeptide neurotransmitterphonemes and morphemesexample of nouns and pronounsa sentence with onomatopoeiahypoxia and hypoxemiadefine prophase 2ferric and ferrouswhat is meant by protoplasmsupercritical pointin a suspension particles cannot be seen through a microscopeimperative declarativeparallelism literary termdifference between granulocytes and agranulocytesleukopenia causescommon and concrete nounsfolktale vs fairy taledifferences between ethics and moralityliteral language examples in poetryoxymoron paradoxis baking soda the same as bicarbonate of sodadifference between pitbull and american pitbulldefinition of tensional forcetyphoon vs hurricane definitionmeaning of fauna in hindiwhat are the difference between phonetics and phonologygst refund at changi airportcomparison between fet and bjtschizophrenia mood swingswhy are dolphins classified as mammalsanalogies and metaphorsdifference between external and internal fertilisationwhat is the difference between afib and tachycardiaantiparallel beta sheetdifference between colon and semicoloncrossing over genetics definitiondifference between kinematics and dynamicsmulticellular vs unicellular organismsdefine aestheticismwhat are the differences between prose and poetryargumentative writing is a type of expository prose thatthe meaning of moaningwhat is the difference between endoparasites and ectoparasiteshot pink fuschiadifference between self rising flour and all purpose flourwhat is the difference between electromagnetic and mechanical wavesisoosmoticalkane solubilitycrystalloid solution examplesinduction and conductionmonomers and their polymersyield strength yield stressamino acid essential and nonessentialwhat are the differences between moths and butterfliespattern of formal and informal lettersdifference between dove and white pigeonlimiting angle of frictiondifference between breath and breathemultidomestic strategy examplewhat does donde mean in spanish