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The term antithesis ( ancient Greek ἀντίθεσις antithésis "counter-assertion, sentence, opposition", from ἀντί anti "against, opposite" and θέσσις thésis "position, arrangement") generally denotes a counter-assertion to an initial assertion (the thesis ). Two words, terms, parts of sentences or sentences that contradict each other in their meaning are juxtaposed. In order to distinguish it from the oxymoron , the mere juxtaposition of the opposing terms is expanded to include further, in part also antonymous, units of meaning.

Formal logic

In the area of formal logic , an antithesis is to be understood as a negation of its corresponding thesis. The thesis therefore includes the antithesis (“not p ”) . The truth value of an antithesis is therefore false , provided that the same of the thesis is true , and vice versa. There is therefore exactly one antithesis to every thesis. Thesis and antithesis can neither be true nor false at the same time .


“Thesis: The house is red.

Antithesis: The house is not red. "

“Thesis: Goethe died in 1805.

Antithesis: Goethe did not die in 1805. "

This understanding goes back to the triad thesis, antithesis and synthesis of the philosopher Friedrich Hegel .

Educational language

In the educational language sense, the antithesis represents a content-related contrast or contradiction to a previously proposed thesis; it therefore makes a judgment which is mutually exclusive with that of the thesis. In this broader sense, thesis and antithesis are not necessarily dichotomous , since they contradict each other in terms of content, but do not have to represent an exact negation and several antitheses are conceivable. Furthermore, they can be wrong at the same time .


“Thesis: The house is red.

Antithesis: The house is not red because it is blue. "

“Thesis: Goethe died in 1805.

Antithesis 1: Goethe died in 1832.

Antithesis 2: Goethe died in 1755. "

Literary language antithesis as a stylistic figure

In literature , an antithesis is a rhetorical figure in which terms or thoughts that are in direct contrast to one another are combined under a generic term. These can be individual words, parts of sentences or entire sentences. To further emphasize the contained contradiction, the antithesis is often in the form of parallelisms or chiasms . The antithesis can express conflict, tension and conflict, among other things.


"The shrub is small, the tree is big."

“Today we are still alive. Tomorrow we will die. "

"The stake was big, the profit was small."

"I sleep during the day, I wake up at night."

"What he is building today, he will tear down tomorrow."

"The flesh was willing, the spirit was weak."

"The sweet beginning is followed by a bitter end."

Web links

Wiktionary: Antithesis  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Jonas, Pfister: Tools of Philosophizing. Reclam, 2013, p. 156.
  2. ^ Samuel Taylor Coleridge : Opus Maximum. Princeton University Press, 2002, p. 89.