noun, plural an·tith·e·ses [an-tith-uh-seez] /ænˈtɪθ əˌsiz/.

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 formsself-an·tith·e·sis, noun
Can be confusedantithesis synthesis thesis

Synonyms for antithesis

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for antitheses

Historical Examples of antitheses

  • 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.


    Julian Hawthorne

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

British Dictionary definitions for antitheses


noun plural -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 for antithesis

C15: via Latin from Greek: a setting against, from anti- + tithenai to place

Hegelian dialectic


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

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