An oxymoron (оксюморон) is an idiom that is, according to the original Greek, “pointedly foolish.” It unites two incompatible notions or properties, usually in the form of an adjective plus a noun, and Russian is full of them. For example: горькая сладость (bitter sweetness), or тёмное освещение (dark lightness). Speaking of lightness, there is the phrase он испытывал лёгкую тяжесть в ногах (he felt a light heaviness in his legs).
There are several which have perfect American counterparts, like небольшая толпа, which finds a parallel in the American oxymoron “small crowd.” Another classic is the expression cекрет полишинеля (literally “puppet’s secret,” but best translated as “open secret”).
There are also some purely Russian oxymorons: Я тебе по-хорошему завидую (I envy you in a good way). The very notion that there could be хорошая зависть (good envy) is an oxymoron by definition. It is kind of like a twist on that double oxymoron: “a bad peace is better than a good war.”
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