I know it may seem like a waste of teen wowza-rific-ness, but a girl has to develop her mind as well as her, um, other assets.

When most teenage girls were thumbing through Teen Beat or Tiger Beat magazines, I was perusing Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. My vision-quest was to learn a new word each day to impress exactly no one. I just thought it might one day come in handy to have a vocabulary wider than the trailer I was living in.

My approach was methodical. Starting with the “A’s,” I scanned for a word I didn’t know but had an iota’s chances of pronouncing and remembering. What? “iota” is a noun and I’m being creative, so don’t judge.

Okay, so maybe I didn't use the exact right word. Things get lost in the translation and before you know it, we have the Grammar Police (or real police) on the scene.

Each day, I would bore…impress my mom and sisters with sentences using my new word. This helped with pronouncing and remembering, but jeopardized my popularity within my family.

“I’m feeling quite lackadaisical today.”

“When it’s cloudy outside, the day takes on a lackadaisical feel, don’t you agree?”

“The last thing you’d want is a lackadaisical repairman working on your car, that’s for sure!”

By the end of the afternoon, Tina had enough. “Shut up, Lorna. You’re not making any sense and you’re bothering me.” I wasn’t as lackadaisical about my education as she was, but I wasn’t about to tell her that. Out loud.

The day I attacked the “O’s” was a special day. I found the best new word I had ever discovered: oxymoron. It sounded like an insult, but it wasn’t. Oh, the possibilities!

Yeah, Baby! I can have some fun with this.

Just to be clear, “oxymoron” refers to any figure of speech that is composed of contradictory words or statements. If you want a really confusing definition, click here. It’s an adjective and it’s Greek or Latin (so you know it’s legitimate). Like most single English words, it comes from multiple ancient words (because English is such a simple language): oxy meaning “sharp” and morus meaning “dull.”

“Don’t you just love a good oxymoron?” I said. That got everyone’s attention.

“Lorna, that’s not nice,” Lisa said.

“What? Oxymorons can be quite clever.”

“Now you’re just making fun of people with problems.” Tina said.

I didn’t get to be smug very often so I poured on the vocabulary superiority. “An oxymoron isn’t a type of person; it’s a figure of speech.”

“Well, it still sounds mean,” Lisa said. I had to agree.


Listen up. I've got a scoop and you've got to get this to print fast. Lorna is starting a new series. Yes. You heard me right. She's doing it. Now print it before that charming louse gets the lead on my story. Yeah, You know the one I'm talking about, that clever fool of a guy I'm gonna kiss after I hang up.

Oxymorons are more common than you might imagine. Did you notice the one in the title of this post? When they’re used intentionally, I think they’re quite clever figures of speech. I don’t think, however, they’re always used consciously. I’m starting a series here on Lorna’s Voice in which I’ll share some of my favorite (and by “favorite” I mean “silly but annoying when you think about them”) oxymorons. Like my adventure through Webster’s dictionary, I plan on going through the alphabet methodically.

Remember, I notice these incongruous statements quite often. Do you?

Let’s start at the beginning with the letter A…

 Accurate estimate. I see this in service or repair ads. “Call today for a FREE accurate estimate! Our work is 100% guaranteed!” But exactly how accurate is your estimate? If it was so accurate, why are you calling it an estimate? Are you willing to guarantee the accuracy of your estimate? I’m confused.

Act naturally. If I’m acting, I’m not behaving naturally. If I’m behaving naturally, I’m definitely not acting. Watch any B-movie, self-produced commercial or grade-school play if you have any doubts.

All Natural, Artificial Ingredients.  You’ll see this if you have Super-Vision and can read print meant for scholarly ants that is found on the ingredients list of the foods you buy. Manufacturers keep the print on these lists microscopic for two reasons: there are so many “natural artificial” ingredients that they would have to triple the package size to print them all; and they don’t want you to know what you are consuming. Actually, it’s nice of them; they want you to die happily on a full stomach. Having eaten their product.

Almost Exactly. Only it never is. It’s always “almost.” I know. Sheesh. Exactly.

Among the first. This is like being “a little pregnant.” Either you are or you aren’t. That’s what first means. First. There’s only one first, no matter how fast you count or how closely you write the numbers together. “The winner was among the first to cross the finish line.” I don’t think so. Especially not in NASCAR.

Assistant Supervisor. Many organizations have many people holding this job title. Exactly what is their position? Are they supervisors or are they assistants? I suspect this is one of the many reasons why employers have problems with high turn-over rates in middle management and have increased security measures for when these confused and frustrated “assistant supervisors” want to assist their supervisor to another planet.

Awfully Good. Are you trying to confuse me? Either it was awful or it was good. I’d rather know the truth than constantly be wondering if the sex…dinner was worth coming back for or not.

Your turn. Do you have any “A” oxymorons you’d like to share?

Are you up for the challenge?