Definition of paradox in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈparədɒks/


1A seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true: the uncertainty principle leads to all sorts of paradoxes, like the particles being in two places at once
More example sentences
  • It sounds like a paradox - Paris has almost three times as much rain as London but London is much rainier than Paris.
  • These rationalizations are resorted to by true believers, to maintain their belief despite the failures and paradoxes that they constantly encounter.
  • We don't like the apparently irreconcilable paradoxes adults have to deal with, and we want a nice, simple system of reward and punishment.
contradiction, contradiction in terms, self-contradiction, inconsistency, incongruity, anomaly, conflict;
absurdity, oddity, enigma, puzzle, mystery, conundrum
1.1A statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory: the liar paradox [mass noun]: Parmenides was the original advocate of the philosophical power of paradox
More example sentences
  • Disjunctions or conditionals featured as premises in many of the logical paradoxes and sophisms which members of the Dialectical school discussed.
  • Less is known about the Megarian logicians, but they seem to have been particularly interested in conditionals, and also in logical paradoxes.
  • Therefore, in order to counter concerns raised by the discovery of the logical and set-theoretic paradoxes, a new approach was needed to justify modern mathematical methods.
1.2A person or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities: cathedrals face the paradox of having enormous wealth in treasures but huge annual expenses
More example sentences
  • Havana is a city of architectural ironies and paradoxes, of harmony and dissonance.
  • Brunel is a fascinating paradox: an artist and engineer who was rooted in the old world but imagined and helped to create the new.
  • He's a paradox in some ways. There is an air of indifference, but he really does care.


Mid 16th century (originally denoting a statement contrary to accepted opinion): via late Latin from Greek paradoxon 'contrary (opinion)', neuter adjective used as a noun, from para- 'distinct from' + doxa 'opinion'.

  • Originally a paradox was a statement contrary to accepted opinion. It came into English via late Latin from Greek paradoxon ‘contrary (opinion)’, formed from elements para- ‘distinct from’ and doxa ‘opinion’, found also in orthodox (Late Middle English), where it is combined with orthos ‘straight, right’.

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