an·​tin·​o·​my an-ˈti-nə-mē How to pronounce antinomy (audio)
plural antinomies
: a contradiction between two apparently equally valid principles or between inferences correctly drawn from such principles
: a fundamental and apparently unresolvable conflict or contradiction
antinomies of beauty and evil, freedom and slaveryStephen Holden
antinomic adjective

Examples of antinomy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The most recent developments in the Russian-Ukrainian war call forth similar antinomies. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 15 June 2023 The great Russian sociologist Yuri Levada theorized that antinomies—pairs of mutually exclusive beliefs—were key to understanding the Soviet totalitarian mentality. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, 15 June 2023 By obliterating Twitter’s attempts at resolving the irreconcilable antinomy between good and bad virality, Musk has only ensured that the Chinese government can engage in viral spam to defeat viral attempts at amplifying domestic protests of CCP’s zero-Covid biosecurity regime. WIRED, 1 Dec. 2022 Civilization and barbarism is a classic antinomy in Argentine history, going all the way back to America’s conquest and the subsequent extermination of the native population in military campaigns. Jd Linville, Variety, 2 Nov. 2021 This demanded the forging of a new consciousness, one that would overcome the antinomies of subjective and objective, body and spirit, family and party. Marci Shore, New York Times, 18 Aug. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'antinomy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


earlier, "opposition of one law or rule to another," borrowed from Latin antinomia "contradiction between laws," borrowed from Greek antimonía "conflict between the requirements of different laws," from anti- anti- + nómos "custom, convention, law" (noun derivative of némein "to pasture [animals], rule, direct, distribute, apportion") + -ia -y entry 2; as a philosophical term after German Antinomie, used by Immanuel kant in Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft) — more at nimble

First Known Use

1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of antinomy was in 1585

Dictionary Entries Near antinomy

Cite this Entry

“Antinomy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

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