Unterschied zwischen Oxymoron und Paradox (mit Tabelle)

Oxymoron vs Paradox

Oxymoron and paradox are terms that are often regarded as interchangeable figures of speech. But is it? Even after knowing the difference, it can be hard to differentiate the two terms.

One must notice that oxymoron is the descriptive form of paradox to start distinguishing between the two. The two words oxymoron can say what a paradox says in one phrase or a sentence.

Oxymorons use only two opposite words to show the contradiction. It can be used to dramatize a sentence and the words used are always kongruent to one another. The deafening silence is a good example of what an oxymoron is.

The paradox can be a phrase or an entire sentence. A paradox can make sense on its own i.e., it is a stand-alone sentence. Unlike oxymoron, a paradox is defined phrases recognized by dictionaries. An example of a paradox is freedom is slavery.

Das difference between oxymoron and paradox is that oxymorons are only two contradictory words that need a sentence to understand the meaning, while paradox is a phrase, that makes complete sense on its own. A paradox can also be a sentence.


Comparison Table Between Oxymoron and Paradox

Parameter zum VergleichOxymoronParadox
DefinitionA noun of two contradictory wordsA phrase or sentence that shows contradictions
Length of wordsTwo congruent wordsA phrase or a complete sentence
DarstellungOpposite actionSelf-explanatory sentence
VerwendenTo dramatize a sentenceTo develop ideas


What is an Oxymoron?

An oxymoron is a noun of two congruent words that show a contradiction in a sentence.

It is a figure of speech and like all other, is used to provide a dramatic effect to the sentence. So, they are no self-explanatory and also do not form a sentence on its own.

They stand out on their own. Oxymorons, do not trigger any thought process as paradox does. It is only the use of two words to form the required contradiction.

This can be explained through the example falsely true. The two words are antonyms of each other and provide a contradiction. This is the general structure of an oxymoron.

An interesting fact is that oxymoron itself is an example of an oxymoron. The origin of the oxymoron is from two ancient Greek words: oxys- meaning sharp and moronos-a common word used for someone stupid or dull. So the word, oxymoron stands for sharp/intelligent stupid if taken in a literal sense. Such words are called autological.

Other examples can be ‘deafening silence’ or ‘blinding light’.


What is Paradox?

A paradox is a phrase or an entire sentence, that aims at triggering thought process through the contradictions it provides. It pushes us to look at things from a different perspective and also helps in developing ideas.

The phrase and sentence are recognized and defined by the dictionary, unlike oxymorons.

Though at first, they may seem impossible or false, on analysing and changing perspectives, one can see that they are the bitter truth. They are, in other words, unacceptable truth.

A paradox is also further divided into two types: rhetorical and situational. Rhetorical is when a contradictory or a contrasting comment is made by a character alone. Situational is when an entire situation seems to be contradictory.

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An example of a paradox is freedom is slavery. Freedom and slavery are contradictory here and the meaning may seem absurd. But one may realize that this is the truth that people are afraid to see.

The first-ever use of paradox has been dated back to 1540.

Hauptunterschiede zwischen Oxymoron and Paradox

  • An oxymoron shows contradiction with two congruent words whereas a paradox shows the truth hidden in the form of contradiction.
  • An oxymoron is only two congruent words that show contradiction or opposite action but a paradox maybe a phrase or a complete sentence. Oxymoron is said to be the descriptive form of a paradox. Though they may seem similar but are represented in different ways: oxymoron with just two opposite words and paradox with a phrase of a sentence.
  •   Though they both show contradiction, they are both used in different ways or different contexts. An oxymoron is used to only add a dramatic essence to the sentence. But a paradox, on the other hand, provides a phrase or sentence that triggers one’s thinking process and shows different perspectives on the same to accept it.
  • An oxymoron is only a figure of speech and it doesn’t hold any value of its own. A paradox, as one can say, is a self-explanatory or stand-alone sentence and has a literal meaning to it.
  • Oxymoron does not trigger any thought process and is usually used to show a contradiction with two words. Whereas, a paradox tries to trigger our thought process and make us realize the truth hidden behind contradiction in a statement.



Even though oxymoron and paradox are used to show contradiction, oxymoron only dramatizes whereas paradox has hidden truth in its contradictory statement.

It may be hard to differentiate between the two because both are used to show contradiction, but they are represented and used in different ways. A paradox is usually a phrase or a complete sentence but an oxymoron is two contradictory words showing opposite action.

A paradox makes us think and helps in evolving new, modern concepts and ideas. It makes us re-think our perspective and helps us to see the truth that is hidden from everyone’s eyes. But this is not the case with oxymorons. They are only used as a figure of speech and one cannot take the literal meaning of it. They are not defined and recognized in dictionaries, unlike paradox.

One may say that an oxymoron is a descriptive way of representing a paradox. A paradox that is shown by a phrase or a complete sentence, can be changed into a figure of speech by reducing it to two nouns, showing opposite actions.