Language point

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 12:00am

This story touches on the subject of truth and lies, which reminds me of a 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger film called True Lies. Here, 'true lies' is an oxymoron. An oxymoron is a figure of speech. It is a combination of words with contradictory meanings, eg. pretty ugly, random order. Even though the meanings are contradictory, we still know what the oxymoron means and are not confused by the contradiction.

Try to group the following words into oxymorons: inside, up, smile, news, terribly, out, reality, shortage, future, sit, huge, near, virtual, old, nice, sad

Now, see who can come up with the most oxymorons. My favourite is the slogan of a well-known British department store: Exclusive to everyone.

Answers: inside out, sit up, huge shortage, near future, virtual reality, old news, terribly nice, sad smile

Other oxymorons: good grief, bankrupt millionaire, low-rise, study break, bittersweet