Sunday, May 19, 2013
Ten Oxymorons You Can Stop Using, Like Now
By OFW editor:
Published: July 20, 2013
For those who have no idea what an oxymoron is: when contradictory, seemingly opposite terms are combined, such as “cold heat.” Clear? Okay. Now, then (there’s another one) I’ve read lots of books. Hundreds probably. I don’t think I’ve read one that does not contain one accidental oxymoron. Intentional ones are different. We’re using those to make a statement or to achieve a certain effect, but accidental oxymorons in books usually occur because the authors (all of us) are so used to hearing them, that they don’t stop to think about what they literally mean. Here is a few that beta readers either caught me using, or ones that simply annoy me when I come across them.
1. Found missing
If he’s found, how is he missing?
2. Alone together
Alone means there is no one else present. Together means with or in close proximity to another person. So, let’s make up our minds and just say either “I was alone.” or “We were together.” or even “We’re alone.” But we're never alone together.
3. Small crowd
It’s a crowd. Period. Small crowd? How many is that? Two or three? Ten? Crowd means a large number of people assembled together, so small doesn’t factor in, right? Yes, I’m guilty of this one, but I’ve since learned my lesson. It’s either a crowd or it’s a few people, possibly a group. Never a small crowd.
4. Pretty ugly/bad/shitty/horrible/nasty
If I have to explain this to you, then I’m really disappointed.
5. Exact estimate
This one drives me nuts. Exact estimate, eh? How is that even possible? If it’s exact, then it’s the exact amount, price, or whatever. An estimate is a guess, no?
6. Fatally injured
Cheese and crackers, people, you’re not injured. You’re dead. Period.
7. Final draft
Draft is still a rough copy; a preliminary version. You plan to keep it that way, then it's no longer a draft. Ah hell, I can’t rag on anyone too much about this oxymoron. I use it all the time. Still, my hecklers are right. It just makes no sense.
8. Saying nothing
If you’re “saying” then you’re speaking. Right? So it’s impossible to say nothing. You might not answer, remain silent, bite your tongue, whatever, but you can’t say nothing. You can’t really do nothing either. Doing implies something, doesn’t it? I think I just gave myself a headache.
9. Numb feeling
Stop with this one, okay? If you want to convey numb, then drop the “feeling” part, or better yet, just say there was no feeling or sensation. “I had a numb feeling in my fingers.” is really annoying. “I had no feeling/sensation in my fingers.” Better. Not fantastic as a sentence, but it makes more sense.
10. Turkey bacon
Bacon doesn’t come from turkeys, no matter how much you try to convince me otherwise. Enough said. No, I didn’t see this in a book. It just bugs me.
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