juxtaposition

If a waiter served you a whole fish and a scoop of chocolate ice cream on the same plate, your surprise might be caused by the juxtaposition, or the side-by-side contrast, of the two foods.

Any time unlike things bump up against each other, you can describe it as a juxtaposition. Imagine a funeral mourner telling jokes graveside, and you get the idea — the juxtaposition in this case is between grief and humor. Juxtaposition of two contrasting items is often done deliberately in writing, music, or art — in order to highlight their differences.

Definitions of juxtaposition
  1. noun
    the act of positioning close together (or side by side)
    “it is the result of the juxtaposition of contrasting colors”
    synonyms: apposition, collocation
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    types:
    tessellation
    the careful juxtaposition of shapes in a pattern
    type of:
    emplacement, locating, location, placement, position, positioning
    the act of putting something in a certain place
  2. noun
    a side-by-side position
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    type of:
    place, position
    the particular portion of space occupied by something
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