Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 09:37:13 EDT
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: A new oxymoron?
I'm not going to touch the troll part of Bubba's note (the etymology) with a
10-foot pole, beyond commenting that a growing number of ads-ers seem to be
susceptible to such trolls anymore. Maybe we'll have to revert to smileys to
signal our bad faith, which would take the fun out of it. But as for the first
part, I beg to differ. Any question that builds in a presupposition can be
said to be uninformed: Have you stopped beating your pet iguana? Why did you
support English-only legislation, Senator? When did scientists discover that
water is an element? and so on. All is takes is that the presupposition be
Incidentally, you may be interested to know that I can produce the true der-
ivation of 'oxymoron'. My NCD 7, fresh off the shelf, defines the prefix
OXY- as 'of oxygen and', and when I checked MORON in the OED, all I could find
(besides an obsolete form of 'morn', which didn't seem to apply) was 'a variety
of salamander', from the OF mo(u)ron, with the citation 'With respect to the
salamander, the whole tribe, from the Moron to the Gekko, are said to be
venomous to the last degree' [Goldsmith 1774, Nat. Hist.]. An OXYMORON, thus,
would have originally been something consisting of oxygen and a venomous
salamander. Presumably nothing of that sort exists, hence the current meaning.
(Good thing I turned up an 11-foot pole.)
Albert E. Krahn wrote:
Is "uninformed question" an oxymoron?
I suppose so. Touche'.
By the way,did y'all know that "oxymoron" came from the words "Oxford" and
"moron", because it
was a contradiction in terms to call someone who graduated from such a
prestigious school a
dumby. (The "y" in the middle is the Spanish word for "and".) I know it's
true, because that's
what the guys who hung around Buddy's Pool hall when I was growing up used to
Danny "Bubba" Long