Antithesis - Explore What It Is, Definition and Examples

Figures of speech, otherwise known as rhetorical devices, are used in the English language to beautify and make your language look and sound a lot more effective rather than a literal presentation of information. Each figure of speech has its function and is meant to perform its roles giving the context a unique effect. In this article, you will learn about one such figure of speech called antithesis. Read through the article to learn more about what antithesis is, its definition and how it differs from an oxymoron. You can also check out the examples and analyse how it is written for an in-depth understanding of the same.

Table of Contents

What is Antithesis? – Meaning and Definition

An antithesis is a figure of speech that states strongly contrasting ideas placed in juxtaposition. They contain compound sentences with the two independent clauses separated by a comma or a semicolon, in most cases. However, there are also instances where the antithesis is a compound sentence with a conjunction. An antithesis is mainly used to portray the stark difference between the two opposing ideas.

Antithesis, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a contrast between two things”, and according to the Cambridge Dictionary, “a difference or opposition between two things”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives a more explanatory definition. According to it, antithesis is “the rhetorical contrast of ideas by means of parallel arrangements of words, clauses, or sentences”.

What Differentiates an Antithesis from an Oxymoron?

Knowing the difference between an antithesis and an oxymoron will help you comprehend and use both the rhetorical devices effectively. Take a look at the table given below to learn more.

Antithesis

Oxymoron

  • Antithesis is a figure of speech that places two completely contrasting ideas or clauses in juxtaposition.
  • An oxymoron is a figure of speech that contains two opposing or contrasting words placed adjacent to each other within a phrase to produce an effect.
  • For example:
    • “Art is long, and Time is fleeting.”
  • For example:
    • “Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!”

Some Common Examples of Antithesis

Here are some of the most common examples of antithesis for your reference.

  • Hope for the best; prepare for the worst.
  • Keep your mouth closed and your eyes open.
  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” – Charles Dickens
  • “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong
  • “Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.” – John Milton
  • Speech is silver, but silence is gold.
  • “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” – William Shakespeare
  • Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.
  • “To err is human; to forgive divine.” – Alexander Pope
  • Money is the root of all evil: poverty is the fruit of all goodness.

Frequently Asked Questions on Antithesis

What is antithesis?

An antithesis is a figure of speech that states strongly contrasting ideas placed in juxtaposition. They contain compound sentences with the two independent clauses separated by a comma or a semicolon, in most cases. However, there are also instances where the antithesis is a compound sentence with a conjunction.

What is the definition of antithesis?

Antithesis, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a contrast between two things”, and according to the Cambridge Dictionary, “a difference or opposition between two things”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives a more explanatory definition. According to it, antithesis is “the rhetorical contrast of ideas by means of parallel arrangements of words, clauses, or sentences”.

What is the difference between antithesis and oxymoron?

The main difference between an antithesis and an oxymoron is that antithesis refers to the use of two contrasting ideas or thoughts conveyed in two independent clauses placed in juxtaposition, separated by a comma, a semicolon or a conjunction; whereas, the term ‘oxymoron’ refers to the use of two opposite words within a phrase to create an effect.

Give some examples of antithesis.

Here are a few examples of antithesis for your reference.

  • “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.” – Goethe
  • “Folks who have no vices have very few virtues.” – Abraham Lincoln
  • “Man proposes, God disposes.”
  • Beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Be slow in choosing, but slower in changing.

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