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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for antithesis
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Milton presented two distinct poems, though allied by antithesis, and Penseroso does not speak until Allegro has finished.

    The Standard Cantatas George P. Upton
  • It was the future Napoleon who was presaged in the antithesis.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte William Milligan Sloane
  • In my opinion, this antithesis of monism and dualism is the most important in the whole history of philosophy.

    The Wonders of Life Ernst Haeckel
  • Yet he was a sailor, this antithesis of a Jack Tar, and he was also—a Russian monk!

    Through Finland in Carts Ethel Brilliana Alec-Tweedie
  • Crabbe's thoughts ran very much in antithesis, and the couplet suited this tendency.

    Crabbe, (George) Alfred Ainger
British Dictionary definitions for antithesis


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 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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