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Did you hear the one about...

Oxymora

SMILE!

A man walks into a drug store and asks the pharmacist, "Do you have any acetylsalicylic acid?"
"You mean aspirin?" asked the pharmacist.
"That's it, I can never remember that word."

There are lots of long words in English that the Plain English campaigners would like to get rid of. This page shows a few phrases that we use every day, without realising how nonsensical they are. We call these terms 'oxymora'.

An oxymoron is a contradiction in terms, such as "a deafening silence". Here are a few more, with the odd sarcastic crypto-contradiction (non-oxymoron) thrown in for fun.

  • Act naturally
  • Airline food
  • Almost exactly
  • Alone together
  • American style
  • British summer
  • Business ethics
  • Butt head
  • Childproof
  • Civil war
  • Clearly misunderstood
  • Clever fool
  • Computer security
  • Constant variable
  • Definite maybe
  • Detailed summary
  • Diet ice cream
  • English cuisine
  • Exact estimate
  • Extensive briefing
  • Extinct life
  • Female rationality / male sensitivity
  • Found missing
  • Genuine imitation
  • Good grief
  • Government initiative
  • Government organization
  • Humanitarian war
  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Living dead
  • Military intelligence
  • Neutral point of view
  • New classic
  • New York culture
  • "Now, then..."
  • Old news
  • Only choice
  • Original copy
  • Paid volunteers
  • Passive aggression
  • Peace force
  • Plastic glasses
  • Political correctness
  • Pretty ugly
  • Random order
  • Rap music
  • Resident alien
  • Rolling stop
  • Same difference
  • Sanitary landfill
  • Small crowd
  • Soft rock
  • Sound of silence
  • Sweet sorrow
  • Synthetic natural gas
  • Taped live
  • Temporary tax increase
  • Terribly pleased
  • Tight slacks
  • Twelve-ounce pound cake
  • Virtual reality
  • Working vacation

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