Definition of antithesis in English:

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Pronunciation: /anˈtiTHəsəs/

noun (plural antitheses /-ˌsēz/)

1A person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else: love is the antithesis of selfishness
More example sentences
  • The Edmonton Oilers dynasty of the 1980s was the direct antithesis of the Flyers.
  • Again, one could infer that it is the direct antithesis to works.
  • Yet Edward always saw reconciliation in the form of its antithesis or opposite.
1.1A contrast or opposition between two things: the antithesis between occult and rational mentalities
More example sentences
  • This opposition provides the most convincing rationale for his famous antithesis between bureaucracy and charisma.
  • Not only was the antithesis between the finite and the eternal, the human and the divine, treated by him as ontologically fundamental; in the final analysis it also governed the picture he drew of human nature and its basic orientation.
  • Now, your Honours, the antithesis between the two approaches can be seen very clearly from a comparison of three short passages in the judgments.
1.2A figure of speech in which an opposition or contrast of ideas is expressed by parallelism of words that are the opposites of, or strongly contrasted with, each other, such as “hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins”: his sermons were full of startling antitheses
More example sentences
  • An analysis of this speech reveals that the student used varied repetition strategies, including anaphora, antithesis, chiasmus, and parallelism.
  • This extravagant praise, moreover, takes the form of far-fetched metaphors, antitheses, hyperboles, superlatives, elaborate syntax, etc.
  • Othello's account of the origins of the handkerchief, another example of this discoursal antithesis, combines, in a contrastive fugal pattern, domestic detail and the mystical sublime of an empowering love.
1.3(In Hegelian philosophy) the negation of the thesis as the second stage in the process of dialectical reasoning. Compare with synthesis.
Example sentences
  • It is also to be noted that the dialectical process is not simply from thesis and antithesis to final synthesis; it is an eternal, open-ended spiral of development.
  • Often the synthesis, though adequately reconciling the previous thesis and antithesis, will turn out to be one-sided in some other respect.
  • The revelation of this mystical wholeness occurs through the dialectic: a thesis is manifest and contested by its antithesis, the resolution of which, leads to a new thesis and so on.


Late Middle English (originally denoting the substitution of one grammatical case for another): from late Latin, from Greek antitithenai 'set against', from anti 'against' + tithenai 'to place'. The earliest current sense, denoting a rhetorical or literary device, dates from the early 16th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: an·tith·e·sis

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