What do Jumbo Shrimp, Bridegroom, and Virtual Reality have in common?

They are oxymorons. Oxymorons are words or word phrases that seem to contradict themselves. Let’s investigate a few: “Giant shrimp,” “bridegroom,” and “virtual reality.”  When examined, they aren’t such oxymorons at all.

Giant shrimp

Shrimp had somewhat the same naming issue as lobster did. Lobsters are Crustaceans — any of various predominantly aquatic arthropods of the subphylum (or class) Crustacea; including lobsters, crabs, shrimps, and barnacles. , characteristically having a segmented body, paired jointed limbs, and two pairs of antennae.

Americans didn’t like “crustaceans” and commonly referred to them as lobsters.

Crustaceans is preferable to the name crawfish, which is sometimes used by invited confusion with crayfish.

Shrimp were also known as prawns – any of various shrimplike decapod crustaceans. So, people started referring to prawns as shrimp, and shrimp come in all kinds of varieties and sizes, thus – jumbo shrimp and giant shrimp.


Of course, we use bride and groom as two different people. Reading this definition, it sounds like it was ‘a suitor from bride’ or ‘bride’s lord.’ Which fits as the male in old thinking. 

“Man newly married or about to be,” Old English brydguma “suitor,” from bryd “bride” (see bride) + guma “man,” from Proto-Germanic *gumon- Ending altered 16c. by folk etymology after groom (n.) “groom, boy, lad”

A common Germanic compound (compare Old Saxon brudigumo, Old Norse bruðgumi, Old High German brutigomo, German Bräutigam), except in Gothic, which used bruþsfaþs, literally “bride’s lord.”

From Etymonline.com and Wikipedia.

Virtual Reality: 1956 – the Sensorama

The Sensorama had stereo sound, a 3D display, smell generators and even a seat, which vibrated according to the content on screen. It was the brainchild of cinematographer Morton Heilig, who produced six short films to play for the viewer including A Date With Sabina and I’m A Coca Cola Bottle.

1961: Headsight – Head Tracking

What will soon be a plaything for people buying the Rift started out life as a top-secret military project. Engineers at the Philco Corporation fused a video screen and basic magnetic head tracking system into a helmet and linked everything to CCTV. Called Headsight, its primary purpose was to remotely view situations that were deemed too dangerous for up close and personal inspection

The use of the term “virtual reality,” however, was first used in the mid-1980s when Jaron Lanier, founder of VPL Research, began to develop the gear, including goggles and gloves, needed to experience what he called “virtual reality.”

Thanks to www.fi.edu and Wikipedia

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