adjective an·ti·thet·i·cal \ ˌan-tə-ˈthe-ti-kəl \
variants: or less commonly antithetic play \-ˈthe-tik\
|Updated on: 5 Aug 2018

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


play \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

antithetical was our Word of the Day on 12/31/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of antithetical in a Sentence

  1. the antithetical forces of good and evil

  2. spiritual concerns and ideals that are antithetical to the materialism embraced by modern society

Recent Examples of antithetical from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of antithetical

Synonym Discussion of 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

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excessive admiration or flattery

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