John McCullagh October 28, 2004
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Oxymoron (sharp-stupid) is just one of many epigrammatical devices one of whose functions is to draw attention to the meaning of words.  A term is an oxymoron only when its two elements can be seen as opposites.
Some people use it to humorous effect, some for political gain.  I have just heard a news announcement [biased verdict] that the Afghan presidential election was ‘fairly democratic’.  These two terms are never opposites so the expression is not an oxymoron (contrasted, for example, with ‘benign dictator’).  Yet most intelligent observers will reflect on the deliberate misuse of the term ‘fair’ to convey the connotation of ‘not quite..’.  It is this covert exploitation of the vagueness of language by self-seekers that we wish to highlight here so please do not hesitate to post your favourites on Guestbook, whether they are oxymorons or not. 
Overall we have come to demand more meaning from oxymorons, as they become a useful device of the satirist and a means of unveiling the deficiencies of language.  The cleverest ones include words that can have different meanings in various contexts.  Humour is now an important element.  Keeping all this in mind, the following are a few of my favourites.  Thanks to Dearest Carmel for her contribution.  What about you?
Strangely familiar:  stationary orbit:  small fortune:  peace offensive:  parallel connection:  random order:  relative truth:  real magic:  timeless moment:  virtual reality: genuine reproduction … etc
More oxymorons later!

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