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[an-tith-uh-sis] /ænˈtɪθ ə sɪs/
noun, plural antitheses
[an-tith-uh-seez] /ænˈtɪθ əˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
opposition; contrast:
the antithesis of right and wrong.
the direct opposite (usually followed by of or to):
Her behavior was the very antithesis of cowardly.
  1. the placing of a sentence or one of its parts against another to which it is opposed to form a balanced contrast of ideas, as in “Give me liberty or give me death.”.
  2. the second sentence or part thus set in opposition, as “or give me death.”.
Philosophy. See under Hegelian dialectic.
Origin of antithesis
1520-30; < Latin < Greek: opposition, equivalent to anti(ti)thé(nai) to oppose + -sis -sis. See anti-, thesis
Related forms
self-antithesis, noun
Can be confused
antithesis, synthesis, thesis.
2. opposite, reverse.

Hegelian dialectic

an interpretive method, originally used to relate specific entities or events to the absolute idea, in which some assertible proposition (thesis) is necessarily opposed by an equally assertible and apparently contradictory proposition (antithesis) the mutual contradiction being reconciled on a higher level of truth by a third proposition (synthesis) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for antitheses
Historical Examples
  • The answer is that the union is one of complementaries, and not of antitheses.

  • We talked of our grief in maxims, and bade each other adieu in antitheses.

    Pelham, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Is it just a mechanical union of two antitheses, or is it something more?

    James Frederick Ferrier Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane
  • These antitheses might be produced indefinitely, but enough has been said.

    Dust Julian Hawthorne
  • Grace and its works are the antitheses of the devil and his works.

    The Essence of Christianity Ludwig Feuerbach
  • Yet the understanding cannot release itself from the fixity of these antitheses.

  • The antitheses were clear, even as Lincoln saw them in 1858.

    The Last American Frontier

    Frederic L. (Frederic Logan) Paxson
  • As Kant conceives a form of perception, it involves three antitheses.

    Kant's Theory of Knowledge

    Harold Arthur Prichard
  • It is sublime in its similes and exquisite in its antitheses.

    Comrade Kropotkin Victor Robinson
  • Their antitheses were fully in harmony with existence, which is itself a contradiction in terms.

    Twelve Types G.K. Chesterton
British Dictionary definitions for antitheses


noun (pl) -ses (-ˌsiːz)
the exact opposite
contrast or opposition
(rhetoric) the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, phrases, or words so as to produce an effect of balance, such as my words fly up, my thoughts remain below
(philosophy) the second stage in the Hegelian dialectic contradicting the thesis before resolution by the synthesis
Word Origin
C15: via Latin from Greek: a setting against, from anti- + tithenai to place

Hegelian dialectic

/hɪˈɡeɪlɪan, heɪˈɡiː-/
(philosophy) an interpretive method in which the contradiction between a proposition (thesis) and its antithesis is resolved at a higher level of truth (synthesis)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for antitheses

plural of antithesis.



1520s, from Late Latin antithesis, from Greek antithesis "opposition, resistance," literally "a placing against," also a term in logic and rhetoric, noun of action from antitithenai "to set against, oppose," a term in logic, from anti- "against" (see anti-) + tithenai "to place," from PIE root *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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