Richard Watson Todd:
“The true beauty of oxymorons,” says Richard Watson Todd, “is that, unless we sit back and really think, we happily accept them as normal English.” Todd illustrates his point with the following passage:
It was an open secret that the company had used a paid volunteer to test the plastic glasses. Although they were made using liquid gas technology and were an original copy that looked almost exactly like a more expensive brand, the volunteer thought that they were pretty ugly and that it would be simply impossible for the general public to accept them. On hearing this feedback, the company board was clearly confused and there was a deafening silence. This was a minor crisis and the only choice was to drop the product line.
(Much Ado About English, 2006)
Author’s Note: A couple of years ago, I was visiting my son in Washington D.C. He wanted me to cook some real southern cornbread, so I went to the store but all they had was low-fat buttermilk. I complained to the store clerk that low-fat buttermilk was an oxymoron. The natural born Yank just blinked at me.