Number one for English language teachers

Word of the week: Friendly fire

Type: Reference material

If you regularly watch the news, friendly fire is a term you are probably familiar with. Tim Bowen explains this topical oxymoron.

Oxymoron is defined as an expression that contains words with opposite meanings or a contradiction in terms. There are numerous examples of oxymoron in English, one of the best-known being bitter sweet, referring to an experience that has both pleasant and unpleasant elements. Other examples include plastic glass, working holiday and liquid gas.

In war, reports often refer to friendly fire. This expression sounds particularly strange, particularly as the firing of ammunition at another person can only really be interpreted as an unfriendly act. Friendly fire, however, is a situation in which military personnel come under attack by mistake from weapons fired by their own side.

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