an·​ti·​thet·​i·​cal | \ ˌan-tə-ˈthe-ti-kəl How to pronounce antithetical (audio) \
variants: or less commonly antithetic \ ˌan-​tə-​ˈthe-​tik How to pronounce antithetic (audio) \

Definition of antithetical

1 : being in direct and unequivocal opposition : directly opposite or opposed … some see the idea of a museum for rock & roll as antithetical to the music's rebellious ethic …— Al Weisel
2 : constituting or marked by antithesis antithetical conflict

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from antithetical

antithetically \ ˌan-​tə-​ˈthe-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce antithetically (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for antithetical

opposite, contradictory, contrary, antithetical mean being so far apart as to be or seem irreconcilable. opposite applies to things in sharp contrast or in conflict. opposite views on foreign aid contradictory applies to two things that completely negate each other so that if one is true or valid the other must be untrue or invalid. made contradictory predictions about whether the market would rise or fall contrary implies extreme divergence or diametrical opposition. contrary assessments of the war situation antithetical stresses clear and unequivocal diametrical opposition. a law that is antithetical to the very idea of democracy

Did You Know?

Antithetical and "antithesis" entered English in the 16th century. Their etymological paths pass through Late Latin and ultimately lead to Greek (the Greek words antitithenai and "antithesis" mean "to oppose" and "opposition," respectively). The oldest sense of the English "antithesis" refers to a language pattern that contrasts parallel ideas, as in "action, not words" or "they promised freedom and provided slavery." "Antithetical" can mean "constituting or marked by such language patterns." For example, you could say "The phrase 'action, not words' is an antithetical construction." It is more common in current use, however, for "antithesis" to mean "the exact opposite" and for "antithetical" to mean "directly opposite."

Examples of antithetical in a Sentence

the antithetical forces of good and evil spiritual concerns and ideals that are antithetical to the materialism embraced by modern society
Recent Examples on the Web Such talk is antithetical to China's leaders and the need to stamp out separatism has been given as a key justification for a new national security law. James Griffiths, CNN, "From the Qing Empire to the People's Republic, China's worries about separatism run deep," 29 June 2020 That ideology, Whitlock said, is antithetical to traditional American values and has permeated sports leagues across the country, including the NFL community. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Jason Whitlock: Bubba Wallace '#FAKENOOSE story proves racism is our new religion'," 26 June 2020 Effectuating stringent safety measures at times feels antithetical to the hospitable nature of the restaurant industry for some restaurant operators, and juggling those measures with the guest experience is proving to be a challenge for many. Claire Ballor, Dallas News, "Restaurant workers take on role as enforcers of Dallas County’s new mask ordinance," 24 June 2020 Gingrich and his colleagues at the vanguard of the Republican Revolution promoted a set of policy priorities antithetical to classic Progressivism. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "Republican Phantasmagoria," 18 June 2020 Publicly, however, the president decried the rioting and violence as disconnected from civil rights, denouncing looters as antithetical to the cause of racial justice. National Geographic, "How will the protests end? History tells us much depends on how government responds," 12 June 2020 For those with progressive leanings who support the larger labor movement, like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), singling out police unions may seem antithetical to their normal ideology. TheWeek, "Ilhan Omar explains the 'disconnect' between the labor movement and police unions," 9 June 2020 Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Ivanka Trump calls out "cancel culture" after her commencement speech is canceled," 6 June 2020 That’s kind of directly antithetical to everything that has been said before in it in terms of directives. The Atlantic, "Listen: How Limiting Protests Will Spread the Virus," 4 June 2020

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

See More

First Known Use of antithetical

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for antithetical

see antithesis

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about antithetical

Time Traveler for antithetical

Time Traveler

The first known use of antithetical was in 1583

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about antithetical

Statistics for antithetical

Last Updated

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Antithetical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on antithetical

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!