antithesis

An antithesis is the complete opposite of something. Though the counterculture was strong in America in 1968, voters elected Richard Nixon, the antithesis of a hippie.

The noun antithesis comes from a Greek root meaning "opposition" and "set against." It's often used today when describing two ideas or terms that are placed in strong contrast to each other. We might come across antithesis in school if we learn about the "Hegelian dialectic." There, the thesis, or main idea put forward in an argument, is countered with its opposite idea — the antithesis — and the two are finally reconciled in a third proposition, the synthesis. An antithesis wouldn't exist without a thesis because it works as a comparison.

Definitions of antithesis
  1. noun
    exact opposite
    “his theory is the antithesis of mine”
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    type of:
    oppositeness, opposition
    the relation between opposed entities
  2. noun
    the juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas to give a feeling of balance
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    type of:
    rhetorical device
    a use of language that creates a literary effect (but often without regard for literal significance)
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