noun an·tith·e·sis \an-ˈti-thə-səs\

Definition of antithesis



play \-ˌsēz\
  1. 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 versec :  the second of two opposing words, clauses, or sentences that are being rhetorically contrasted

  2. 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 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

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

First Known Use: 1529

Other Grammar and Linguistics Terms

ANTITHESIS Defined for English Language Learners


noun an·tith·e·sis \an-ˈti-thə-səs\

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



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

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up antithesis? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


feeling or affected by lethargy

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