noun an·tith·e·sis \ an-ˈti-thə-səs \
|Updated on: 18 Aug 2018

Definition of antithesis

plural antitheses play \-ˌsēz\
1 a : 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

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 WallisTime8 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 McFedriesWord Spy2004
  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 PorterThe Greatest Benefit to Mankind1997
  4. true love for another is the antithesis of the desire to control that person's life

Recent Examples of antithesis from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of antithesis

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

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ANTITHESIS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of antithesis for English Language Learners

  • : the exact opposite of something or someone

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

ANTITHESIS Defined for Kids


noun an·tith·e·sis \ an-ˈti-thə-səs \

Definition of antithesis for Students

plural antitheses \-ə-ˌsēz\
: the exact opposite
  • Poverty is the antithesis of wealth.

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