Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Paradox

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is paradox. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Paradox refers to a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true. It can also refer to something or someone having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases.

// The statement “less is more” is a common paradox.

// It is a paradox that computers need time-consuming updates so often since they are meant to save people time.

PARADOX in Context

“Demand for semiconductors has never been higher…. Yet chip stocks are one of the worst-performing sectors in the U.S. market this year. That paradox reflects the cliff that investors see looming for the economy and the stock market….” — Subrat Patnaik and Jeran Wittenstein, Bloomberg, 12 Apr. 2022

Did You Know?

The ancient Greeks were well aware that a paradox can take us outside our usual way of thinking. They combined the prefix para- (“beyond” or “outside of”) with the verb dokein (“to think”), forming paradoxos, an adjective meaning “contrary to expectation.” Latin speakers used that word as the basis for a noun paradoxum, which English speakers borrowed during the 1500s to create paradox.

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