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What is an oxymoron?

An oxymoron is a word or a phrase that is, in some sense, contradictory in construction, meaning, sound or application. This list was compiled by merging a number of internet and other sources with lists of my own. I have applied some political correctness of my own by removing national, racial, and professional slurs, which are not true oxymorons.

A list of oxymorons



A Fine Mess

A Hard Day's Night

a little pregnant

absolutely unsure

abundant poverty

academic fraternity

academic sorority

accidentally on purpose

accurate estimate

accurate horoscope

accurate rumors

accurate stereotype

acrophobic mountain climber

act naturally

active retirement

acute apathy

acute dullness

adult children

advanced BASIC

advanced beginner

affirmative action

affordable housing

aging yuppie

agree to disagree




airline food

airline schedules

almost always

almost candid

almost certain

almost exactly

almost impossible

almost never

almost perfect

almost persuaded

almost pregnant

almost safe

almost suddenly

almost surprised

almost totally

alone together

along shortly

amateur expert

American English

American Honda

amicable divorce

among the first

anarchy rules

angry patient

anonymous colleague

anticipated serendipity

anticipating the unanticipated

anxious patient

apathetic interest

apathetically urged

approximate solution

approximately equal

arms limitation

army intelligence

arrogant humility

artificial intelligence

assistant supervisor

astronomically small


athletic scholarship

authentic replica

authentic reproduction

authentically reproduced

authoritarian anarchy

auto pilot

awfully good

awfully nice


baby grand

Back to the Future

bad health

bad luck

balanced insanity

balding hair

bankrupt millionaire

barely dressed

battle ready

benevolent despot

benign neglect

better than new

beyond infinity

big sip

big town

binging on moderation


bipartisan cooperation

birth control

birthday suit


black gold

black heart

black light

blameless culprit

bland spice

blind eye

blue rose

border control

boring entertainment

boyish grandpa

brave wimp

brief speech

brief survey


bright night

bright rain

bright shade

brilliantly dull

budget deficit

buffalo wings

bug-free software

build down

bull riding

buried alive

business casual



cafeteria food

calculated risk

calculated spontaneity

calm storm

calm wind

camping resort

canned fresh

cardinal sin

casual chic

casual formality

casual intimacy

casual sex

casually concerned

cat fish

cat proof


cavalier concern

center around

centrally-planned economy

certainly unsure

chaotic organization

cheap gas

cheerful pessimist

cheerful undertaker

cheerfully cynical

cheerfully mournful

cheerleading scholarship


chilling fever

Christian evolutionist

Christian gangster

Christian militia

civil disobedience

civil service

civil strife

civil war

civilized warfare

classic new homes

classic rock & roll

clean air

clean boy

clean coal

clean dirt

clean kill

clean litter

clean oil

clean toilet

clear as mud

clearly ambiguous

clearly confused

clearly misunderstood

clearly obscure

clever fool

click the start button to shut down

clogged drain

cluster bomb

co-ed fraternity

co-ed sorority

coal mine safety

cold fever

cold hotdog

cold sweat

cold toast

college education

college student

colorless kaleidoscope

combative apology

comedic tragedy

comfortably dressed

commercial art

committee decision

committee schedule

common sense

comparatively unique

completed research

completed website

completely destroyed

completely educated

completely succinct

completely unfinished

compulsory volunteers

computer jock

computer security

conciliation court

concrete pad

confident fear

conscripted volunteer

consensual rape

conservative liberal

considerate boss

consistent discrepancies

consistent uncertainties

consistently inconsistent

conspicuous absence

constant change

constant infrequent

constant variable

constructive ambiguity

constructive attitude

constructive criticism

constructive negativity

contra aid

contra assistance

controlled enthusiasm

controlled skeptic

controlled-market economy

convenience store

conventional wisdom

cooked sushi

corporate conscience

corporate ethics

corporate family

corporate planning

correctional institution

cosmology in chaos

cowardly lion

crash landing

creative destruction

criminal cop

criminal justice

criminal system

crisis management

critical acclaim

cruel kindness


current history

curved line

customer satisfaction

customer service


daily special

dangerously safe

dark day

dark star

dark victory

dead right

deaf-piano tuner

deafening silence

death benefit

debugged program

deeper high

defensive strike

definite maybe

degradable plastic

deliberate mistake

deliberate speed

deliberately thoughtless

delicious torment

demanding patient

democratic leadership

democratic machine

Department of the Interior

designer beer

designer jeans

desktop publishing

devilish angel

devout atheist

diet ice cream

different pattern

diligent sloth

diminished confidence

diminutive giants

direct circumvention

disaster preparedness

disciplined gluttony

disco music

disposable income

disposable products with a lifetime guarantee

distant relative

divided unity

divorce court

Dodge Ram

dollar value

domestic bliss

domestic cooperation

domestic violence

double solitaire

down elevator

down escalator

dress pants

driving pleasure

dry creek

dry humour

dry ice

dry lake

dry pond

dry snow

dull acupuncturists

dull knife

dull needle

dull roar

dull shine

dying is a part of life

dynamic monotone

dynamic stability


easy labour

easy payments

easy task

easy to follow directions

economic forecast

economic reform

economic stability

educated guess

effective compassion

elected king

elementary calculus

elevated subway

elite rabble

eloquent silence

energetic exhaustion

enough time

entertaining sermon

enthusiastic indifference

equal justice

equal opportunity

ergonomic keyboard

eschew obfuscation

essential luxury

essential service

ethical hackers

ethnic cleansing

European Community

evaporated milk

even odds

evolutionary fact

evolutionary technology

exact estimate

executive assistant

executive secretary

expected serendipity

expected surprise

explicit innuendo

explicitly ambiguous

express bus

express line

express mail

expressive silence

extensive briefing

extinct life

extra money

extra time

extremely average

extremely bland

extremely neutral

eyes wide shut


faculty cooperation

faculty understanding

fail safe

fair reporting

fairly explicit

fairly obvious

false fact

false hope

family vacation


fan fatale

farewell reception

fast food

fast idle

fast snail

fast turtle

fast waiter

fast walk

fast-mail service

fat-free cream cheese

fatally injured

faultily faultless

fearful bravery

federal budget

fiber glass

fiery ice

fighting for peace

filing system

final conclusion

final version

finally again

fire water

firm estimate

firm maybe

firm pillow

first annual

first conclusions

first deadline

first string secondary

first-strike defense

fish farm


flexible ethics

flexible freeze

flood control

floppy disk

flying fish

football scholarship

foreign national

foreign policy continuity

former native

former President-for-life

forward back

found missing

free love

free prisoner

free society

free with purchase

freezer burn

fresh cheese

fresh dried fruit

fresh frozen

fresh prunes

fresh raisins

fresh yogurt

fried roast

friendly argument

friendly competitor

friendly divorce

friendly enemy

friendly fire

friendly suit

friendly takeover

friendly war

front end

frozen food

frugal gourmet

full service

full-time hobby

functional illiterate

future history

fuzzy logic


gargantuan lilliputian

geniune imitation

gentle turbulence

gentleman bandit

genuine fake

genuine fake

genuine imitation

giant dwarf

gigantic microorganism

girly man

glacier-like rapidity

global village

go ahead, back up

good cigar

good garbage

good graft

good grief

good junk

good profanity

gourmet fast food

government efficiency

government organization

graduate student

grape nuts

graphic language

grateful dead

great depression

greater evil

green blackberries

green manufacturing

green oranges

gregarious recluse

grotesque beauty

grounded airplane

growing small

guaranteed forecast

guest host

gummily brittle

gunboat diplomacy


hair growth

half dead

half empty

half full

half naked

half true

handgun safety

happy apathy

happy demise

happy fault

happy pessimist

hard curve

hard cushion

hard liquor

hard pillow

hard water

harmless abuse

harmless crime

harmless lie

harmless pollution

harmless pornography

harmless sin

harmonious discord

hasten slowly

health-care system

healthy chocolate

healthy city environment

heavy gas

heifer bull

hell's angels

high ground

highly visible covert operation

hilarious funeral

history of the future

hollow point

holy war

home office

honest bureaucratic snafu

honest convict

honest crook

honest graft

honest liar

honest thief

hopeful pessimist

hopelessly optimistic

horribly decent

hospital food

hot chili

hot ice

huge market niche

huge shortage

human robot

humane robotics

humanitarian invasion

hypothetical situations


ice water

icy hot

idiots savant

idly laborious

ignorant professor

ill fortune

ill health

immigration control

important trivia

inarticulate writer

incomplete cure

increasing declines

increasingly little

incredibly dull

incredibly real

indifferently attentive

indirect communication

inexpensive car

inexpensive house

inexpensive medical care

initial conclusion

initial results

initial retirement

inside out

insincere thanks

insincere vow

instant classic

instant folk hero

intelligent fight

intelligent news coverage

intense apathy

intense disinterest

interested students

internal exile

Internal Revenue Service

interstate highways in Hawaii

intimate murder

intimate strangers

invisible ink

irate patient



joyful trouble

jumbo shrimp

junior senator

junk bonds

junk food

just war

justifiable genocide

justifiably paranoid

justified rape


known-covert operation

kosher ham


laid-back compulsive

lame skills

land developer

land development

large ant

larger half

last initial

lasting aid

law brief

lead balloon

lean pork

least favorite

legal brief

legal ethics

legal justice

legally drunk

legitimate conspiracy

legitimate politics

less is more

lesser evil

lesser good

liberal conservative

liberal fundamentalists

light armor

light heavyweight

light rock

limited immunity

limited incursion

limited lifetime guarantee

linear curve

liquid crystal

liquid gas

liquid metal

liquid natural gas

liquid paper

liquid smoke

lite beer

literal interpretation

literary illiterates

little big

little big horn

little bit big

little deceptive

little giant

live recording

live television

living dead

living death

living end

living fossil

local long distance

local network

long and short of it

long recess

long shorts

long sleeve t-shirt

loose knot

loose tights

loss prevention specialist

loud librarian

loud whisper

love-hate relationship

lovers' quarrel

low insurance rates

low tax

low-fat icecream

low-intensity conflict


lower inflation

loyal opposition

luke-warm enthusiasm

luxury beer

luxury bus



mail delivery

major minority

male lady bug

man child

managed competition

mandatory option

mannish woman

marijuana initiative

marital bliss

martial law

master slave

maternity fashion

mature student

maxi thins

mean smile

meaningful nonsense

meaningful-overnight relationship

meatless meat

medium large

medium well


mercy killing


Middle East peace

mild abrasive

mild cigar

mild interest

mildly psychotic

militant pacifist

military accountability

military intelligence

military justice

military peace

military system

mind-expanding drugs

mini jumbo

minor crisis

minor disaster

minor miracle

minor surgery

misanthropic humanitarian

missing present

mixed-up order

mobile home

mobile station

modern history

modern maturity

modestly arrogant

modified-final judgement

monoglottal babble

morbid humor

more perfect

more unique

most unique

motorcycle safety

mournful optimist

moving target

mud bath

mute sound

mutual differences

mutually exclusive


nameless celebrity

nasty politeness

natural artifact

natural makeup

natural synthetic

near future

near miss

nearly complete

neat office

necessary evil

negative gain

negative growth

negative momentum

neutral charge

never again

never generalize

new age conspiracy

new and improved

new antique

new archeology

new classic

new cliche

new routine

new tradition

new used cars

nice and sleazy

night light

night vision

noble savage

noiseless sound

noisy mime

non-alcoholic beer

non-alcoholic wine

non-dairy creamer

non-fat cream

non-fat ice cream

non-profit organizations

non-stick glue

non-stick gum

non-stick velcro

non-stop flight

non-working mother

normal deviation

normal espionage

normal human

now then...


obedient defiance

objective opinion

objective parent

objective rating

obscene art

obvious secret

oddly appropriate

oddly natural

old newborn

old news

on-time airplane

on-time flight

on-time musical production

on-time train

one hundred percent plus

one person crew


one size fits all

only choice

open minded

open secret

operating system

opposite attraction

orderly confusion

organized anarchy

organized chaos

organized committee

organized confusion

organized mess

original copy

original reprint

original reproduction


Pacific Ocean

paid volunteer

painless torture

paper tablecloth

paper towel

partial conclusion

partial silence

partial success

partially complete

partially destroyed

partially organized

partly pregnant

passive aggressive

passive challenge

passive confrontation

passively aggressive

passively tried

past prediction

patriotic militia

peace benefits

peace force

peace keeper missile

peace offensive

peace officer

peace riot

peaceful liberation

peaceful protests

peasant king

peer pressure

perfect idiot

perfect misfit

perfectly awful

perfectly ridiculous

permanent guest host

persistent ambivalence

personal computer

personalized form letter

pet cat

petty cash


pigeon's milk

pious atheist

planned exodus

planned serendipity

planned spontaneity

plastic flowers

plastic glass

plastic silverware

plastic wood

player coach

player piano

pleasant hell

pleasantly confused

pleasing pain

police protection

politely insulting

political cooperation

political solutions

political trust

politically correct

poor intelligence

population control

positive resistance

positively negative

positively wrong

powdered water

practical experience

practical joke

precision bombing

precision thinking

preliminary conclusion

premeditated spontaneity

presently gone

pretty bad

pretty ugly

prison life

private citizen

private e-mail


problem solved

professional wrestling

progressing backward

Progressive Conservative

pronounced silence

proud humility

psychiatric care

public secret

pure .999

pure dirt

pure speculation


qualified success

quick fix

quick reboot

quiet hurricanes

quiet noise

quiet revolution

quiet riot

quiet scream

quiet tirade

quiet yell


radical center

random logic

random order

randomly organized

rap artist

rap music

rapid transit

rarely done

rational ravings


real fantasy

real magic

real phony

real polyester

real potential

reasonable fees

Rebel Without a Cause

recent history

reckless caution

recoilless rifle

recreational burning

red licorice

regular special

rehearsed improvisation

relative stranger

relative truth

remotely obvious

renegade lawmakers

required elective

resident alien

resolute ambivalence

restless sleep

rising deficits

roaring silence

rock music

rock opera

rogue cop

rolling stop

roomy airline-coach seats

round corner

routine emergency

routine surgery

rules of war

rush hour


sad clown

sad optimist

sad smile

sadly amused

sadly funny

safe guns

safe investment

safe sex

safe weapons

safety hazard

same difference

sanitary landfill

sanitary napkin

sanitary sewer

scalding coolness

scheduled spontaneity

school system

school vacation

science fiction

scientific belief

scientific consensus

scientific speculation

screaming silence

scripted spontaneity

sea farming

second best

second initial

secret rumor

secretarial science





serious clown

serious comic

serious fun

serious humor

serious musician

seriously funny

shared monopoly

short distance

short survey

short tall tales

shout in a whisper

shyly pompous

sight unseen

silent alarm

silent applause

silent barber

silent cacophony

silent noise

silent scream

silent sound

silent speech

silent testimony

silent yell

simple computers

simple procedure

simple technology

simply superb

sincere lie

single pair

single thought

singular relationship

sit up

sleep vigorously

slight exaggeration

slight hernia

slight surprise

slightly pregnant

slightly-used-dental floss

slow children

slow jet

slow jog

slow speed

slow-motion explosion

small crowd

small fortune

small giant

smaller half

smart bomb

smart drugs

smokeless cigarette

snow-white tan

soaring down

social outcast

social science

social security

socialist market economy

socialist worker

soft porn

soft rock

soft thunder

software documentation

solid rumor

solo concert

solo ensemble

somewhat awesome

somewhat destroyed

somewhat functional

somewhat legal

sophomore (wise fool)

sound of silence

sound-filled silence

sour sweets

Soviet economy

spam, targeted

specialize in everything

speed bump

speed limit


splendidly dull

spoken thought

stable economic policies

stand down

standard deviation

stationary bike

stealth bomber

stop action

straight angle

straight hook

straight-forward subterfuge

strangely familiar

strategic withdrawal

strong decaf

structured C++ program

student athlete

student teacher

studious students

study break

study outside

stunted growth

stupid genius

subjective data

subtle exaggeration

subversive compliance

successful suicide

sugarless candy

suicide victim

summer school

sun shade


sure bet

sure guess

sweet and sour

sweet pain

sweet pickle

sweet sorrow

sweet tart

synthetic natural gas

systematic chaos

systematic disorder

systematic variance


talk show

talking mime

tame beast

tame cat

taped live

targeted spam

tax cut

tax return

tax simplification



temporary tax

tense calm

tentative conclusion

terminal initialization

terribly enjoyable

terribly good

terribly nice

terribly pleased

three originals

thunderous silence

tight slacks

tiny mountain

tiny tank

to infinity and beyond

toll free

tomorrow today

tomorrows' headlines today

totalitarian democracy

totally partial

tough love

traditionally radical

traffic flow

tragic comedy

train schedule

tranquil fiesta

transient stability

traumatic bonding

tremendously small

trial separation

troubled paradise

true counterfeit

true fiction

true gossip

true illusion

true lies

true story

truth in advertising

turbo diesel

turkey ham

turned up missing

twelve-ounce pound cake


unacceptable solution

unbiased journalism

unbiased news report

unbiased opinion

unbiased predisposition

uncommonly common

uncommonly normal

uncontested divorce

uncrowned king

understanding editors

understanding unix

unhappily married

uninvited guest

United Nations

United States

university funding

unknown identity

unknown knowledge

unrepeatable pleonasm

unsalted saltines

unsellable stock

unspoken suggestion

unsung hero


unusual routine

unwelcome recess

useful oxymoron

user friendly

usually unusual


vacation bible school

vaguely aware

veiled accusation

venial sin

vices of our virtues

victimless crime

vigorously ignoring

violent agreement

virgin wool

virtual reality

voluntary taxes

voodoo science

voting power


waiting patiently

waning crescent

war games

warm ice

waste management

weak muscle

wealthy professor

weather forecaster

wedded bliss

well-preserved ruins

wheeled walker

white chocolate

white gold

white lie

white night

white rose

whole half

whole hemisphere

whole part


wickedly good

wild dog

wise fool

withheld contribution

wordless book

work party

working breakfast

working hobby

working lunch

working vacation


working vacation


xenophobic foreign secretary


zero defect

zero deficit

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