A Rose by any Other Name: Oxymoronicism

In this case, an oxymoron. I’m considering doing a short post on how prevalent these are in usage.

An example that slaps me in the face several times a day:

Gamble Responsibly

It comes at the end of an ad that makes gambling so much more fun than life. No, I don’t remember the sponsor of the ad. It’s only those two words that stand out for me, the only thing I remember about it (which means the ad misses the mark, I think).


In my mind, the two don’t go together. Gambling, by its very nature, shows a lack of responsibility, a person is taking a risk, and knowing it’s a risk as they do it. A sane person knows that the house always wins and the player gets a sniff only often enough to keep them sniffing the scent of a big win.

Two horses in a race on the track
from Pixabay

In case you’re wondering, I do flutter on occasion. Not every day, not every week, not even every month. If there’s a big jackpot in the lotto, or it’s a gift, and (of course) the Melbourne Cup, some little flutters during the Spring Carnival here. And I keep a record of what I spend, so an annual gamble spend of $50 over a year isn’t a great deal. And, if one of those things win, I get another one (whatever it was). A gamble for me, if it isn’t a big win, is a gamble. It’s lost dough, a bit of fun when with friends at the pub (or similar). I know the risk and I’ll come out of it with less than I went in. Always, especially if I consider the amount spent cross-matched with the amount won.

Oh, the pokies. Yes, that, too, when I’m at a pub that has them and it’s not too crowded. Sometimes win back the cost of the meal. Mostly not. Again, I know the risk and I know I’m not being responsible.

It’s not so much that I’m against gambling, but the expression that comes at the end of the ad that says that a person should be responsible while they gamble. I know life is a gamble, but gambling by its very nature, is … well, gambling. Not a responsible act. Taking a risk, knowing it’s a risk. Put those two words together, gamble responsibly, and you have an example of oxymoron.

So, what do you have that fits that bill? But please don’t mention ‘military intelligence’ – that’s been a cliché and done to death for too long. I want the fresh stench, please.

How many oxymoron examples have you seen? Where do you see them? Why don’t they make sense?

Let’s talk about it …

Oxymoronicism – Yes, I made that word up by combining the two: oxymoron (a real word) and moronicism (this one is also a real word).

25 thoughts on “A Rose by any Other Name: Oxymoronicism

    • Yeah, alone/together in a relationship is common, but more codependence than oxymoron. In my mind, anyway.

      And I’m not touching the off prawns, whether they be shrimp or jumbo! Which is probably why we call the tiny, brine shrimp by the label shrimp and everything else (from the sea) is prawn (there are some freshwater crays, smaller than lobsters, but same family).

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  1. I’m pretty anti-gambling. I think if we’re talking “responsibility”, we’re talking “not losing more than we can afford”. At it’s healthiest, it’s a hobby, we part with some spare cash and we get a rush in return.
    The problem is, that’s not how many see it.

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      • I think it is a nonsense to think that they would win the “big one”, then walk away. They are gamblers, their mentality would be to think they can win more.
        That’s one of the reasons I’m anti-gambling. We’re not dealing with rational people so we need (society needs) to safeguard them.

        I think the only way you “win” is if you win so much that you simply wouldn’t be able to lose it. Something like the lottery. But even there, there are riches-to-rags examples. And in that case, you just look at the odds. I worked them out once – I can’t remember the answer but it was a big number!

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      • The odds are huge, but the odds of losing what you win (even the mega-winners) is short odds. Most don’t have anything within a relatively short period of time.
        If you don’t know how to save or work within a financial structure, it doesn’t stay, or people rip you off, or family, or …

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      • It’s a mish-mash of modern vernacular to describe a person who commits what’s a perceived to be deception by another. ‘You knew I was lined up for that job, but you went behind my back, used the information I told you about it to steal the job for yourself. It was mine!’

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      • Oh. The sense that ‘I saw it, so it belongs to me’ thing? Entitlement by any other name. Still not sure if it’s an oxymoron.
        Maybe a naivete, or similar. An opposite position to merit – how to make that an oxymoron? I’ll have to think on it.


      • Not an oxymoron but has a similar feel (I didn’t have another words for it). The intention is to describe some kind of ‘purposeful deception’ when, in fact, the combo of words cancel ‘it’ out. Logic would have the phrase as: ‘Behind me’ or ‘In front of my back’ or better still, ‘You deceived me!’

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  2. Quite a few decades ago now, I went with a friend to a casino. I decided I would see how far I could get with $20. (it was a long time ago 🙂 ) I managed to make it last for three hours, had a lot of fun and was never bothered to do it again.
    No matter what they tell you I reckon the odds are always set at 50/50 – you’ll either win, or you won’t. The rest is window dressing, 🙂 … and no matter how many times you play, the odds are always reset at the beginning of each game.
    Oxymorons – how about ‘almost exactly’, ‘theoretical experience.’ 😀

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  3. We must be watching the same youtube videos! I wish I could add to the list but the gambling one is the only one that’s been hitting me in the face too. Enticing punters to gamble and then telling them to do so ‘responsibly’ is like shedding crocodile tears…hmm…is that one?

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    • I think the crocodile tears refers to insincerity/falseness (I’ll look it up).
      I see the gambling ads on telly, but I’m sure they stick ’em everywhere they can, especially with lockdowns (caged tiger syndrome – everyone needs some excitement and what better way than to gamble). I’m wondering if the gambling bug is associated with the competitive nature of being human?

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