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Oxymoron (Gk. oxus ‘sharp’ + moros ‘foolish’) is a combination of words that express two diametrically opposite notions.

E.g. Her cheerfulness was the cheerfulness of despair. (Maugham)

Oxymoron ascribes some feature to an object or phenomenon incompatible with it, that is why one of its two components can be said to be used figuratively.

E.g. О loving hate! (Shakespeare)

Moreover, in oxymoron the logical meaning prevails over the emotive but the emotive is the result of the clash between the logical and illogical.

E.g. the famous drama by L. Tolstoy ‘The Living Corpse’.

Semantically an oxymoron can be of two types:

- evident (composed of dictionary antonyms), e.g. beautifully ugly; and

- non-evident (composed of words that render mutually exclusive notions and become contextual antonyms), e.g. jolly starvation.

Structurally oxymora can be formed by an attributive combination (e.g. beautiful horror) or an adverbial word combination (e.g. to swear pleasingly, to be proudly weak).

To less frequent types belong combinations like ugly in a pleasant way, a sweet kind of torture, etc.

Close to oxymoron stands paradox, a statement that is self-contradictory or absurd on the surface.

E.g. The best way to get rid of a temptation is yield to it. (O. Wilde)

‘Why do nice women marry dull men?’ ‘Because intelligent men won’t marry nice women’. (Maugham)

There are a lot of cases of trite oxymora.

E.g. active leisure; terribly nice (the oxymoronic character has been lost for terribly serves as a mere intensifier, a synonym of the neutral very).

Function. In spite of the outward illogicality oxymoronic collocations are full of sober sense: they disclose seeming or genuine discrepancies of objects and phenomena as well as the contradictions of life.

Sometimes they create an ironic or comical effect.

E.g. the noble family of swine. (Golding)

Antonomasia (Gk. antonomasia 'naming instead’; antonomazein 'to name differently’) is usu. the substitution of the of the proper name of a person for another name in order to characterize him/her.

E.g. ‘You will laugh at me. I am a materialist, and I am a gross, fat man – Falstaff, eh? – the lyrical mode does not become me …’ (Maugham)

Casanova (for a ladies' man), a Cicero (for an orator).

Function: characterization through name, creation of humorous atmosphere.

There exist 2 major types of antonomasia:

1) A proper name is used as a common noun. Here belong:

a) metaphorical antonomasia (when the proper name of a famous personage is applied to a person whose characteristic features resemble those of the well-known original or prototype).

E.g. ‘ I don’t pretend to be a great painter,’ he said. ‘I’m not a Michael Angelo, no, but I have something...’ (Maugham); and

b)metonymic antonomasia (observed in cases when a personal name stands for something connected with the bearer of that name).

E.g. This is my real Goya. (Galsworthy)

I am fond of Dickens (= of Dickens' books).

The use of such antonomastic words demonstrates how proper nouns acquire new, logical meanings:

Some of them are still spelt with capital letters, others are already spelt with small letters.

E.g. The word hooligan going back to a proper name of a person known for his lawless behavior.

They can be used with an ‘a’- article.

E.g. She was beginning to like … middle-aged men … but … really nice attractive ones … had hardly more than an occasional faint gleam of interest to spare for a Miss Matfield. (Priestley)

They can be used in the plural.

E.g. It was a pity that silly young men did not amuse her, for there were plenty of Ivors about, whereas there were very few real grown-up men about …. (Priestley)

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