Who are you calling an oxymoron?

2 min read

Oxymorons are some of the weirdest expressions in the English language. They are phrases in which each word means the opposite of the other on its own, but when you put them together, they make strange, juxtapositional sense.

How many of these oxymorons have you used in your everyday conversation?

Act natural

Have you watched a cartoon where someone shouts, “Quick — act natural!” and everyone in the room immediately does the most ridiculous thing they can think of? To some people, acting is an unnatural performance. Acting natural, when you’re already being normal, can only make you look awkward.


An aggressive animal will attack. But people are more likely to be passive-aggressive. We all know someone like this. This annoying and oxymoronic habit means the person will subtly hint at their displeasure, but not directly address it. It often leaves everyone in an uncomfortable predicament.

Assistant supervisor

It’s a confusing title — kind of like Assistant Regional Manager (or Assistant to the Regional Manager). You may have noticed a theme by now that a lot of oxymorons come from not being able to commit, and this one is no exception. As an assistant supervisor, you’re both the boss and the employee, and for those working for you, the oxymoronic title can be confusing.

Expect the unexpected

Is it possible to expect the unexpected? If you consider all possible outcomes, are they really unexpected, or have you actually succeeded in eliminating the possibility of surprises? Just another conundrum of an oxymoron.

Active retirement

The idea of retirement was once one of relaxation and leisure. But now, people dedicate so much of their life to work, retirement is the time to do everything you never had time for. Active retirement is the oxymoronic goal. Everyone wants to do what they couldn’t do with their single week of vacation time for all those years, and now retirement is the time to plan your future.


You know one of these. And if you think you don’t, you may be it. These are the men who can’t give up their playtime, and they’re usually pretty irresponsible. Maybe they haven’t left mom’s house and have no plans to do so. Don’t let this oxymoron apply to you.

You Might Also Like:

Chat bubbles backgroundDaily QuestionWho has neophilia?

Start defining your knowledge

Get daily words and quizzes sent straight to your inbox!

By subscribing to Word Genius you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.