Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Oxymoron ... a Reminder to Laugh at Ourselves

A Sanitary Sewer!  (photo by Jan Siebold)

    I snapped this photo of a "Sanitary Sewer" cover in Washington, D.C.  It is a perfect example of an oxymoron ... a self-contradictory term from the Greek oxus, meaning "sharp", and moros, meaning "stupid".  One translation of the term is "pointedly foolish".
    Popular examples of the oxymoron are "jumbo shrimp", "Great Depression", "military intelligence",  and "poor little rich girl".
    Maybe we enjoy thinking about the oxymoron because we are reminded that as human beings we are full of contradictions* and momentary lapses in judgement.  After all, these phrases were coined by humans, probably by accident or in all seriousness at the time that they were first uttered or written.  For the most part, the chuckle didn't come until later when someone realized the incongruity of the words in question.
    Any time that we are reminded to not take ourselves too seriously is "awfully good" in my book!

*see my blog post "Explore Contradictions!" dated 9/27/12