antithesis

noun
an·​tith·​e·​sis | \ an-ˈti-thə-səs How to pronounce antithesis (audio) \
plural antitheses\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce antitheses (audio) \

Definition of antithesis

1a : the direct opposite Her temperament is the very antithesis of mine.
b(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
c : the second of two opposing words, clauses, or sentences that are being rhetorically contrasted
2 philosophy : the second stage of a dialectical process

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Did You Know?

Writers and speechmakers use the traditional pattern known as antithesis for its resounding effect; John Kennedy's famous "ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country" is an example. But antithesis normally means simply "opposite". Thus, war is the antithesis of peace, wealth is the antithesis of poverty, and love is the antithesis of hate. Holding two antithetical ideas in one's head at the same time—for example, that you're the sole master of your fate but also the helpless victim of your terrible upbringing—is so common as to be almost normal.

Examples of antithesis in a Sentence

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 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 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 true love for another is the antithesis of the desire to control that person's life
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Recent Examples on the Web

Blink-182, never punk enough for true punk, had become its antithesis: the ex-jocks who loiter around the high school recalling their past glories. Chris Kelly, Washington Post, "Nobody on stage seemed to be having fun at Lil Wayne and Blink-182’s nostalgia show," 12 July 2019 Teams will ignore him on the three-point line, and Westbrook’s affinity for pull-up twos are the antithesis of the Rockets’ offense. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "The Rockets' Trade for Russell Westbrook Reeks of Desperation," 11 July 2019 But the industry has also been guilty of perpetuating stereotypes, which, as shortcuts around individualism and specific thought, are the antithesis of creativity. Cassie Werber, Quartz at Work, "Unlock your creativity by battling your brain’s laziest shortcut," 2 July 2019 In truth, Warren’s entire campaign is predicated on staking out positions—such as a wealth tax—that are the antithesis of play-it-safe Democratic politics. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "Miami Moonglow for Booker and Klobuchar," 27 June 2019 Instead president Mark Murphy hired a guy whose offense seems to be the antithesis of how Rodgers likes to play. Ben Volin, BostonGlobe.com, "NFL teams share data with the NCAA to make the sport safer," 22 June 2019 And the music video celebrates the antithesis of these feelings: acceptance. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Taylor Swift releases star-studded video for "You Need To Calm Down," challenging anti-LGBTQ beliefs," 17 June 2019 For about nine months every year, our weather is the exact antithesis of what basil prefers. Colin Mccrate, The Seattle Times, "Once it warms up, it’s all about that basil," 18 May 2019 Most coaches would be thrilled to see their 41-year-old quarterback can still drop a dime down the seam after skipping all of the voluntary work again this offseason, but Belichick is the antithesis of that notion. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Patriots' challenge in offseason is to merge new elements with old ones," 4 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'antithesis.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of antithesis

1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1b(1)

History and Etymology for antithesis

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

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Statistics for antithesis

Last Updated

21 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for antithesis

The first known use of antithesis was in 1529

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More Definitions for antithesis

antithesis

noun

English Language Learners Definition of antithesis

formal
: the exact opposite of something or someone
: the state of two things that are directly opposite to each other

antithesis

noun
an·​tith·​e·​sis | \ an-ˈti-thə-səs How to pronounce antithesis (audio) \
plural antitheses\ -​ə-​ˌsēz \

Kids Definition of antithesis

: the exact opposite Poverty is the antithesis of wealth.

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Comments on antithesis

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