Antithesis – Definition, Meaning, Synonyms, Examples in Literature | How to use Antithesis in your Writing?

Antithesis is a figure of speech that is characterized by strongly contrasting words, clauses, sentences, or ideas. It’s a balancing term against another for emphasis or stylistic effectiveness. When we talk about antithesis in the English language we are referring to a phrase that contains two contrasting ideas.

What is Antithesis in Figure of Speech?

Antithesis is a Greek word that means “Setting Opposite”. It can be used in sentences like “love is the antithesis of selfishness”- which means when something or someone is the opposite of another thing or person.

The effect of antithesis can be powerful. When used correctly, antithesis starks the highlights which makes difference between opposing ideas by placing them side by side in exactly the same structure. When used in the context of an argument – the manner two ideas are presented side by side we can make a clear judgment of which idea is better.

Antithesis is also a literary device to create rhythm. Antithesis often makes use of parallelism. It sets up a repetitive structure that makes writing sound musical.

Here are examples of Antithesis:

  • “We live within our limits, for we are men, not gods”.
  • “I speak not from ignorance, but from experience”.

Antithesis Examples in Literature

There is a popular drama by William Shakesphere named “Hamlet”. In which he says “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice”. This is a great example of antithesis because it pairs two contrasting ideas together- listening and speaking in the same parallel structure.

This is another example of a famous speech by Abraham Lincoln. In which he says “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.

Here are some other examples of proverbs that features Antithesis

  • Cleanliness is next to god.
  • Beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Easy come easy go.
  • An ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure.
  • Be slow in choosing, but slower in changing.
  • Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.
  • Keep your mouth closed and your eyes open.
  • One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
  • Where there is a will, there’s a way.

Functions of Antithesis

  • Antithesis makes use of words to convey ideas in different ways from common words and expressions of daily life.
  • It helps to convey meaning more vividly than ordinary speech.
  • When two different contrasting ideas are brought together, the idea is expressed more emphatically and forcefully.
  • Antithesis typically makes a sentence more memorable for the reader or listener through balance and emphasis of words.
  • It helps to strengthen an argument by using exact opposite words.

Tips on How to Use Antithesis in your Writing?

There are 3 important tips to be considered more importantly while using an antithesis in your conversation.

  • Focus on Contrast: We need to bring together contrasting ideas which help to create a magical effect. We need to think of places when we write anything.
  • Read It Out Loudly: When we write any piece of work read it out loudly. This is because with help of antithesis we can create a clerical effect.
  • Use It Sparingly: When using antithesis do not use it continuously. This is because when we use it sparingly its effect is maintained. Anything, when used too much, can spoil the effect.


Why do Writers Use Antithesis?

Mostly, writers of all types use antithesis for its ability to create a clear contrast effect. The use of contrast is important in order to consider the following points:

  • With help of antithesis, we can create a stark choice between two alternatives. The meaning of stark is something that cannot be avoided.
  • Also, we can present magnitude and range like “in brightest day, in darkest night”.
  • We can also use this figure of speech in order to express strong emotions.
  • A relationship can also be created between two contrasting ideas as well.
  • If you want to make noticeable any qualities and characteristics of anything, so that people notice it easily then we need to put it according to contrasting ideas, so that it can be get noticed very easily. For example, if there is a black spot on a white background it gets noticed very easily.

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FAQs On Antithesis

1. How do you explain antithesis?

The meaning of antithesis is the opposite. It is basically the opposite of any statement, concept, or idea. In literary analysis, an antithesis is a pair of statements in which one goes opposite of the other.

2. How do you use antithesis in a sentence?

  • Slavery is the antithesis of freedom.
  • John’s character is the exact antithesis of George.

3. When should antithesis be used?

The use of antithesis allows the author to use opposite words in their writing. This is very effective when we compare two ideas such as a person’s character, emotions, etc.

4. What is double antithesis?

In the following proverb double antithesis can be seen such as “Man” is opposed to “God”. and “proposes “ is contrasted with “disposes of”. Man proposes God disposes of.

5. Why is antithesis effective?

Antithesis is an effective literary device. It male use of pairs exactly opposite by utilizing the parallel grammatical structure. This helps the readers and audience to understand the concepts of something which is exactly the opposite of what is said.

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