A Beginner’s Guide to Oxymorons

imageAn oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory ideas. Oxymorons are often funny. They’re also micro-creative acts.

Oxymorons can also be a sign that we’re using clichés or not thinking clearly.

Al Fahden self-published a quirky and useful book about creativity called Innovation on Demand. In it, he offers the most extensive list of oxymorons I’ve ever seen, including:

  • Tremendously Small
  • Real Potential
  • And/Or
  • Initial Conclusion
  • Planned Serendipity
  • Working Vacations
  • Essentially Agree
  • Civil War
  • Talk Shows
  • Airline Food
  • First Annual
  • Old News
  • Casual Sex
  • Rolling Stop
  • Iowa City
  • Truth in Advertising
  • War Games

All right: some of those are not technically oxymorons. But you get the idea.

I met Al years ago. For a while he had a bookstore on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. It housed hundreds of copies of a single book—Innovation on Demand—all shelved under various categories—business, psychology, sociology, and so on.

No kidding. His point: It’s an interdisciplinary book. That was a wise oxymoron.

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