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What’s An Oxymoron?

By Jane Whitmore - | Nov 12, 2020

An article came across my screen titled “Healthy Homemade Sweets” and I thought that might be interesting for pre-holiday bakers.

Then my brain wondered if “healthy-sweets” is an oxymoron. Looking up the word and its definition yielded lots of information:

• Oxymoron – a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true ).

• An oxymoron is a short phrase, usually two words, that is contrary or incongruous. … So “jumbo shrimp” is an oxymoron. The term “oxymoron” comes from Greek, where “oxy” means “sharp or acute,” and “moros” means “dumb or foolish.” So oxymoron is itself a bit of, well, an oxymoron.But look at the phrase a little closer; break it apart, into “alone” and “together”, two words which are complete opposites of each other. … The expression “alone together” appears, when viewed apart from its accepted meaning as given by Americans, to be an oxymoron, a phrase which contradicts itself, plain and simple.

• An oxymoron is a figure of speech, usually one or two words, in which seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side. This contradiction is also known as a paradox. Writers and poets have used it for centuries as a literary device to describe life’s inherent conflicts and incongruities.

• An oxymoron is a self-contradicting word or group of words (as in Shakespeare’s line from Romeo and Juliet, “Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!”). A paradox is a statement or argument that seems to be contradictory or to go against common sense, but that is yet perhaps still true–for example, “less is more.”

• An oxymoron is a rhetorical device that uses an ostensible self-contradiction to illustrate a rhetorical point or to reveal a paradox. A more general meaning of “contradiction in terms” is recorded by the OED for 1902. (This from Wikipedia)

So – is “healthy-sweets” an oxymoron? You be the judge.

Back to the original article from Discover Books. To make the homemade sweets “healthy” is to make them in your own kitchen, as opposed to purchasing ready made filled with preservatives (sodium benzoate, sulfites, nitrites and more). When you make your own sweet treats you can control the ingredients, making them healthier and more tasty. The writer says you don’t need preservatives because, being homemade and more tasty, they won’t last long.

Thoughts about holiday baking from years ago to today will have to wait for another column.

Today, we learned about an oxymoron – which could apply to the love-hate relationship I have for cooking.