Way back in 2011 I posted a blog named” Travel Laughs”. In it, I spoke of my love for oxymorons. They are figures of speech that put contradictory terms put together amusingly, like plastic glasses. Other and often funnier examples are given in “Travel Laughs” but not the following oxymorons: pretty bad, Old Boy, preliminary conclusion, modern history, open secret, and the term made popular by TV shows and movies about zombies. the living dead.
Did you ever hear someone comment on a movie by calling it awfully good? This is an oxymoron when you think about it. Remember when we used to describe a non-threatening growth in the human body with the oxymoron “a benign tumor”? Then there’s bittersweet, Civil War, and a phrase teenagers love, “I’m doing nothing”. Did you ever ride a “Down escalator”?
Another and more difficult figure of speech to understand is the spoonerism. A minister by the name of William Archibald Spooner used to get his terms twisted, creating a new word game. Spoonerisms are humorous errors in speech is which words in common phrases are switched. Spooner might call Jesus Christ a shoving leopard instead of a loving shepherd. Someone experiencing a setback might be said to be having a blushing crow. The author Shel Silverstein once wrote a book called Runny Babbitt that is little more than a series of non-stop spoonerisms. “Hats off to our queer old dean.” WHOOPS!