Team English -
Created by: Team English -, Last Updated: May 15, 2024


Antithesis is a literary device that pairs contrasting ideas together in a sentence to highlight their differences. This technique emphasizes the distinction between the ideas, making their unique characteristics more noticeable and impactful. By using antithesis, writers can draw attention to specific traits and enhance the clarity of their message.

What is an Antithesis?

Antithesis is a literary technique where two opposite ideas are put together in a sentence to show their contrast. This method highlights the differences between the ideas, making them stand out more clearly. It helps writers point out specific features and make their points stronger.

Types of Antithesis

Conceptual Antithesis

Conceptual antithesis involves contrasting abstract ideas or theories, such as “freedom vs. slavery” or “truth vs. lies,” to emphasize ideological differences.

Structural Antithesis

This type uses parallel grammatical structures to emphasize the contrast between two opposing words or clauses, enhancing the rhythm and balance of the sentence.

Verbal Antithesis

Verbal antithesis contrasts specific words within a statement, like “best of times, worst of times,” focusing on the immediate linguistic juxtaposition.

Figurative Antithesis

Figurative antithesis employs metaphors or similes to contrast two unlike but related concepts, deepening the poetic quality and imagery of the text.

100+ Antithesis Examples

Examples on Antithesis

Antithesis examples illustrate how contrasting ideas can be juxtaposed to create a striking effect in language. This literary device is used by writers to emphasize differences by placing opposing concepts in close proximity within their sentences. The result is a clearer and more powerful expression of each idea.

  1. “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.”
  2. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”
  3. “You are easy on the eyes, but hard on the heart.”
  4. “Patience is bitter, but it has a sweet fruit.”
  5. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
  6. “Money is the root of all evils: poverty is the fruit of all goodness.”
  7. “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing.”
  8. “Speech is silver, silence is golden.”
  9. “It’s not the men in my life, but the life in my men.”
  10. “Man proposes, God disposes.”
  11. “They promised freedom but provided slavery.”
  12. “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
  13. “Let’s agree to disagree.”
  14. “He was too honest to be a politician and too political to be honest.”
  15. “She’s the sunshine of my life, but sometimes it rains.”
  16. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
  17. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can learn a lot from them.”
  18. “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”
  19. “It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.”
  20. “I am a dreamer but not the only one.”
  21. “We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.”
  22. “I know one thing; that I know nothing.”
  23. “The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.”
  24. “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
  25. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
  26. “There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.”
  27. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”
  28. “The more you know, the more you realize you know nothing.”
  29. “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
  30. “She’s as happy as she is sad.”
  31. “You have to be cruel to be kind.”
  32. “Better late than never, but never late is better.”
  33. “The child is the father of the man.”
  34. “History is written by the victors but read by the survivors.”
  35. “To lead the people, walk behind them.”
  36. “He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.”
  37. “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
  38. “Actions speak louder than words, but words are often easier.”
  39. “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”
  40. “We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.”
  41. “Prejudice is the reason of fools.”
  42. “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
  43. “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
  44. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
  45. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
  46. “A joke is a very serious thing.”
  47. “Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.”
  48. “The first casualty when war comes is truth.”
  49. “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
  50. “A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”
  51. “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
  52. “Not all those who wander are lost.”
  53. “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”
  54. “If you want to make an omelette, you must be willing to break a few eggs.”
  55. “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
  56. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
  57. “Every beginning has an end and every end is a new beginning.”
  58. “It’s better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
  59. “He who laughs last laughs best.”
  60. “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
  61. “I can resist everything except temptation.”
  62. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
  63. “United we stand, divided we fall.”
  64. “The course of true love never did run smooth.”
  65. “He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat.”
  66. “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
  67. “Youth is wasted on the young.”
  68. “I must be cruel only to be kind.”
  69. “Good fences make good neighbors.”
  70. “He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”
  71. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
  72. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
  73. “It is always the best policy to speak the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.”
  74. “Every exit is an entry somewhere else.”
  75. “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
  76. “There is nothing permanent except change.”
  77. “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
  78. “One must be poor to know the luxury of giving.”
  79. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  80. “The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.”
  81. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”
  82. “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
  83. “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
  84. “Sometimes you have to be silent to be heard.”
  85. “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
  86. “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.”
  87. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
  88. “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”
  89. “Hope is the dream of a waking man.”
  90. “A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
  91. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”
  92. “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”
  93. “The best way out is always through.”
  94. “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.”
  95. “You can do anything, but not everything.”
  96. “Silence is argument carried out by other means.”
  97. “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
  98. “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
  99. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
  100. “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”
  101. “Happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination.”

Famous Antithesis Examples

Antithesis can be found across classic and modern texts, bringing vivid contrast and memorable clarity to writing. Famous works often use this literary device to draw stark differences between ideas, increasing the impact of their messages.

Antithesis Examples in the Bible

The Bible frequently uses antithesis to emphasize moral contrasts and spiritual dilemmas:

  1. “For you are all children of light, children of the day; we are not of the night or of the darkness.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:5
  2. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” — Matthew 23:12

Antithesis Examples in Letter from Birmingham Jail

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” uses antithesis to highlight the differences between just and unjust laws, as well as the moral gap between actions and inactions:

  1. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
  2. “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

Antithesis Examples in I Have a Dream Speech

In his iconic speech, Martin Luther King Jr. used antithesis to emphasize the disparity between the American dream and the American reality:

  1. “One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.”
  2. “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.”

Antithesis Examples For Kids

Antithesis can also be simplified for children to help them understand opposites in a memorable way:

  1. “The hero was brave, the villain was cowardly.”
  2. “She was as quiet as a mouse, he was as loud as a lion.”

How to Use Antithesis

  1. Identify Opposing Concepts

    Start by identifying two ideas that contrast sharply with each other. These could be qualities, actions, philosophies, or characters.

  2. Create Parallel Structures

    Structure your sentence in a way that parallels the opposing ideas. This symmetry helps to highlight the contrast and makes the sentence easier to follow.

  3. Choose Concise Language

    Use clear and concise language to express each idea. The sharper the wording, the more effective the antithesis.

  4. Place for Emphasis

    Use antithesis in parts of your writing where you want to create a strong, memorable impact, such as in conclusions, thesis statements, or key arguments.

  5. Balance the Sentence

    Ensure that both halves of the antithesis are balanced in terms of length and syntactic structure to maintain a rhythmic flow and enhance readability.

Tips for Using Antithesis

  1. Understand Your Ideas Fully: Before creating an antithesis, make sure you fully understand the ideas or themes you want to contrast. Clear understanding allows for sharper distinctions.
  2. Use Parallel Structure: Employ parallelism in your sentences when using antithesis. This means keeping the grammatical structures of the contrasting parts similar, which not only emphasizes the contrast but also makes your sentence more rhythmic and easier to understand.
  3. Keep It Balanced: Ensure that the contrasting elements in the antithesis are balanced in terms of length and syntactic complexity. A balanced structure increases the impact of the contrast.
  4. Select Appropriate Context: Use antithesis in contexts where highlighting a contrast can strengthen your argument or enhance the poetic quality of your writing. It’s particularly effective in speeches, persuasive essays, and poetry.
  5. Focus on Clarity: While it’s tempting to use elaborate language, clarity should always be your priority. Choose words that make the contrasting ideas clear and accessible, especially if your audience is broad or diverse.
  6. Practice Moderation: Although antithesis can be very effective, using it too frequently in a piece of writing can become overwhelming or reduce its impact. Use it sparingly to ensure that each instance stands out and serves a specific purpose.
  7. Revise for Impact: After writing a sentence with antithesis, revise it to see if the contrast could be stronger or the wording more precise. Editing allows you to refine the structure and wording for maximum impact.

How to pronounce antithesis?

Antithesis is pronounced as an-TITH-eh-sis.

What is a synonym for the word antithesis?

A synonym for antithesis is opposition.

What is an example of an antithesis in a movie?

In “The Dark Knight,” Batman and Joker represent antithesis: order versus chaos.

What is the purpose of using antithesis?

The purpose of using antithesis is to make the differences between two opposing ideas more vivid, enhancing the effectiveness of the message or argument.

Can antithesis be used in everyday conversation?

Yes, antithesis can be used in everyday conversation to emphasize a point or clarify the distinction between two contrasting ideas.

What are common examples of antithesis?

Common examples include phrases like “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” or “Speech is silver, but silence is golden.”

How does antithesis affect the reader?

Antithesis captures the reader’s attention by creating a stark contrast, making the text more memorable and persuasive.

Is antithesis only used in literature?

No, antithesis is used in various forms of writing and speech, including literature, speeches, advertising, and everyday dialogue.

How can antithesis enhance persuasive writing?

Antithesis sharpens the contrasts in persuasive writing, making arguments clearer and more compelling by highlighting the stakes and choices.

What should be avoided when using antithesis?

Avoid overusing antithesis or forcing unnatural contrasts, as this can make writing seem contrived or unclear. Keep the contrasts relevant and impactful.

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