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noun, an·tith·e·sis \an-ˈti-thə-səs\

Simple Definition of antithesis

  • : the exact opposite of something or someone

  • : the state of two things that are directly opposite to each other

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of antithesis

plural antithesesplay play \-ˌsēz\

  1. 1 a (1) :  the rhetorical contrast of ideas by means of parallel arrangements of words, clauses, or sentences (as in “action, not words” or “they promised freedom and provided slavery”) (2) :  opposition, contrast <the antithesis of prose and verse> b (1) :  the second of two opposing words, clauses, or sentences that are being rhetorically contrasted (2) :  the direct opposite <her temperament is the very antithesis of mine>

  2. 2 :  the second stage of a dialectic process

Examples of antithesis in a sentence

  1. In urban areas, middle schools often became the antithesis of what reformers had intended. Instead of warm incubators of independence and judgment, they became impersonal, oppressive institutions. —Claudia Wallis, Time, 8 Aug. 2005

  2. Yet the newest residential rage in Dallas is the antithesis of the traditional neighborhood: the gated community. Depending on your income and level of anxiety, these private enclaves may contain golf courses, health clubs and equestrian centers … —Paul McFedries, Word Spy, 2004

  3. Cato, who dosed his family on cabbage soup, derided Greek physicians as the antithesis of Roman virtue: they were frauds who cheated patients and ‘have sworn to kill all barbarians with their drugs’. —Roy Porter, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, 1997

  4. <true love for another is the antithesis of the desire to control that person's life>

Origin of antithesis

Late Latin, from Greek, literally, opposition, from antitithenai to oppose, from anti- + tithenai to set — more at do

First Known Use: 1529

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ANTITHESIS Defined for Kids


noun an·tith·e·sis \an-ˈti-thə-səs\

Definition of antithesis for Students

plural antitheses \-ə-ˌsēz\

  1. :  the exact opposite <Poverty is the antithesis of wealth.>

Seen and Heard

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to expose to danger or risk

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