In the middle of a conversation I had with a friend recently, I tried to describe a theoretical person's living situation.
This person is extroverted, in that he craves social communication, but due to his say, important exam, he has been spending more time alone, furiously studying. He has spent so much time alone that he now appreciates solitude. Put simply, our theoretical person is extroverted but also introverted, which is its exact opposite.

Is there a word or saying to describe a situation like that?

Something that is both one way and another.
It wouldn't have to apply to people only, various situations may call for the same word. I first described it with oxymoronic, which was the closest word I knew to whatever fits the puzzle.

Which word should I use?

  • 1
    In the situation that you have described, we might say that he has become used to his own company, but that doesn't answer your question.
    – Mick
    Oct 21, 2016 at 17:00
  • I'd call it ambivalence. Oct 21, 2016 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


With regard to your analogy, I would not equate the need for solitude as the mark of an introvert. In my experience, extroverts get energy and fulfillment from interacting with others. Introverts gain energy and fulfillment from themselves. Both types may interact, but in the interaction, the extrovert gains energy while the introvert looses it to the extrovert.

Now to your question. I think oxymoron is an excellent choice but connotes foolish rather than just opposite. It may also be an absurdity but if the analogy is real or based on reality, I would want to say it is a paradox.

  • Yes! That is the exact word I was looking for! I had it loaded up somewhere just didn't know where to look. Thanks so much! Oct 21, 2016 at 17:48

You could say the outcome would be paradoxical, or that the outcome would present a paradox.

Paradox (noun)

  • someone who does two things that seem to be opposite to each other or who has qualities that are opposite. (M-W)

  • A counterintuitive conclusion or outcome. (Wiktionary)

I think oxymoron would be incorrect, as an oxymoron happens when words in a phrase contradict each other. This is not the case. Instead, the person has two personality traits that clash with each other. I think this is a classic example of a paradox.

It's also worth mentioning the difference between a paradox and a contradiction. A paradox is something that holds true in spite of a (seeming) contradiction. A contradiction is something that can never hold true, since it's necessarily false.

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