Difference Between Juxtaposition and Oxymoron (With Table)

The word ‘juxtaposition’, when used as a verb, describes the act of placing two elements together in order to examine or compare them. This is usually done in order to determine their contrast, differences, or similarities.

On the other hand, the word ‘oxymoron’ is a figure of speech in which two terms with contradictory meanings are placed together. The terms may be ideas, emotions, personalities, characters, and so on.

Juxtaposition vs Oxymoron

The difference between juxtaposition and oxymoron is that juxtaposition is a phrase that describes a situation where two elements are placed together closely for examination or comparison, whereas, an oxymoron is a specific kind of juxtaposition which places two contradictory elements together.

Comparison Table Between Juxtaposition and Oxymoron

Parameters of ComparisonJuxtapositionOxymoron
MeaningJuxtaposition is a phrase that describes a situation where two elements are placed together for examination or comparison.Oxymoron is a figure of speech used for a situation where two contradictory terms or elements are placed together closely.
RelationIn some cases, a juxtaposition can be an oxymoron.Oxymoron is a specific kind of juxtaposition.
Contradiction between termsIn a juxtaposition, it is not necessary for the elements to be contradictory.In the case of an oxymoron, it is necessary for the elements to be contradictory or have contradictory meanings.
UsageThe word ‘juxtaposition’ can be used in the form of a noun as well as a verb.The word ‘oxymoron’ can be used only in the form of a noun.
ExampleThe TV series shows the juxtaposition of belief between the two people.The relationship between the two people in the TV series was ‘bitter-sweet’.

What is Juxtaposition?

The word ‘Juxtaposition’ can be applied in the form of a noun or a verb. When used as a noun, it refers to a situation where two elements are placed together in order to examine their contrast, similarities, or differences. When used as a verb (juxtaposed or juxtaposing), it refers to the act of placing elements in juxtaposition.

The term may also be used in different ways depending on the context. According to one’s visual perception, juxtaposition describes the nearness of two objects or things without any detail that relates them. According to the rules of grammar, the word refers to a situation where the conjunctions between two words are missing, for example, mother father.

When used in arts, a juxtaposition refers to two closely-placed elements that generate an effect on the audience through their contrast. At the same time, when used in music, it describes an abrupt change in musical elements. According to logical reasoning, the word is used when it is implied for two elements to have a correlation even though they have none.

The varied usage of the word can make it quite troublesome to understand its meaning. A simple example of juxtaposition (noun) is ‘you should never talk out of fear, but you should never fear to talk either’. The sentence shows two different concepts that are placed together.

What is Oxymoron?

An oxymoron is a specific kind of juxtaposition that places two elements together in order to amplify the contrast between them. It has been used as a figure of speech in numerous literary works of writers, authors, and poets across the world. It is common for an oxymoron to create a certain effect on the reader or listener, which grabs their attention.

An oxymoron can be of many types, the most common ones being adjective-noun combinations, and comical oxymoron. The elements used to create these figures of speech could be ideas, emotions, objects, personalities, tastes, characters, and so on.

An objective-noun combination means that the first word of the oxymoron is an adjective, while the second word is a noun. For example, sweet pain, loud silence, adorable mischief, falsely true, fearfully brave, etc. The elements that make up each of these phrases conflict with each other.

An oxymoron is said to be comical when it leaves a humorous effect on the reader or listener. Many comedians use oxymoron in their material, or as the premise of their routine. For example, George Carlin performed an entire routine about how ‘military intelligence’ and ‘business ethics’ should be considered an oxymoron.

Main Differences Between Juxtaposition and Oxymoron

  1. Juxtaposition is a phrase that describes a situation where two terms are placed together closely for examination. On the other hand, an oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two contradictory terms are placed together.
  2. In the case of juxtaposition, it is not necessary for the terms to be contradictory, whereas, in the case of an oxymoron, it is necessary for the terms to be contrary.
  3. The word ‘juxtaposition’ can be used in the form of a noun or a verb, whereas, the word ‘oxymoron’ can only be used in the form of a noun.
  4. A juxtaposition is not always an oxymoron.
  5. An oxymoron is a specific kind of juxtaposition.

Conclusion

The difference between juxtaposition and oxymoron can be easily understood by the fact that an oxymoron is a specific kind of juxtaposition. While juxtaposition encompasses a larger variety of phrases, oxymoron refers to only those in which the elements contradict each other.

A great example of a juxtaposition is when a gardener plants a cactus next to a bush of red roses. The two elements are not necessarily opposed to each other, however, their contrast grabs one’s attention. The entire situation of the two plants being placed close together is a juxtaposition.

The famous quote by Mark Twain which says that it commonly takes three weeks or more to write down a good impromptu speech is an example of an oxymoron. The sentence includes two elements – ‘three weeks to write down’ and ‘impromptu speech’, which contrast with each other.

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Rajaa_Flayih/publication/308633041_A_Linguistic_Study_of_Oxymoron/links/57e95e6408aeb34bc08fce27/A-Linguistic-Study-of-Oxymoron.pdf
  2. https://brill.com/view/book/9789004417441/BP000010.xml
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