What's the opposite of oxymoron? That is, two words put together that seem identical?

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    Are you looking for pleonasm? – Alain Pannetier Φ Jan 29 '12 at 23:20
  • 4
    The opposite of oxymoron would be two words that are perfectly compatible with each other, not identical. – JeffSahol Jan 30 '12 at 2:49
  • Etymologically speaking, the opposite would be a moroxyon. But quite apart from not being an actual word, that would be essentially semantically synonymous with its etymological opposite. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 27 '18 at 0:39

Merriam-Webster says:

oxymoron, noun : a combination for epigrammatic effect of contradictory or incongruous words

pleonasm, noun : the coincident use of a word and its substitute for the same grammatical function

tautology, noun : needless or meaningless repetition in close succession of an idea, statement, or word

I'm not quite sure how the use of one word can be coincident with another per M-W's definition, but looking at pleonasms.com, one sees these nuggets:

anonymous stranger

basic fundamentals

empty hole


I'd say pleonasm comes the closest to being the antonym of oxymoron, in spirit if not in truth.


Try tautology. @alain-pannetier also made a good suggestion in the comments with pleonasm. The Wikipedia page explains the difference.

  • 1
    As the wikipedia page for pleonasm explains, a tautology is very general, whereas a pleonasm is a redundancy in terms. An oxymoron is a contradiction in terms, so it would seem that pleonasm is the more appropriate antonym. Then again, wikipedia is all made up. – Mitch Jan 30 '12 at 0:45
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    "redundancy" isn't quite an antonym for "contradiction", though... – Karl Knechtel Jan 30 '12 at 2:43
  • @KarlKnechtel That is the problem with the question, though...will add comment to OP. – JeffSahol Jan 30 '12 at 2:49
  • Doh, the word "but" is hugely powerful and I should use it with more care. Edited accordingly. – Lunivore Jan 30 '12 at 9:07

These are nice, but only somewhat related to what I assume the original question is getting at, that is: if a good example of an oxymoron is an expression that involves both a contradiction and an ironic contrast between terms in the expression; the opposite or the reverse of an oxymoron might be an expression which involves an ironic reinforcement between terms in the expression. Neither a pleonasm or tautology assert any sense of irony or humor, as is inherent in an oxymoron.

If "military intelligence" is a good example of an oxymoron, "contempt of Congress" might be an example of the opposite. An oxymoron might give a sense of "these things that don't go together;" the reverse might be the sense of "duh, clearly these are related."


There is no opposite, the word internalizes opposites, its own contradictions. It'd be like making a black & white negative image of a chessboard.

An oxymoron ... is a paradox compressed into a single self-contradicting phrase, and therefore the show-off among figures of speech. / Helen Vendler, The Music of What Happens 1988

... the discord of the oxymoron. Basil L Gildersleeve, Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes

  • 1
    What are you hoping to tell us? This doesn't seem to answer the question. – Matt E. Эллен Jul 11 '12 at 10:51
  • I tried to clean up the answer. I had always been interested in the back story of how the word swiftly become a pet term in the mainstream press in the eighties, perhaps through Vonnegut's and Ashbery's example - and went a bit afield on that. – jitard Jul 11 '12 at 19:05

protected by user2683 Jul 11 '12 at 11:40

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