Definition of antithetical in US English:



  • 1Directly opposed or contrasted; mutually incompatible.

    ‘people whose religious beliefs are antithetical to mine’
    ‘two antithetical emotions pulled at her’
    • ‘It is not antithetical to art, and is frequently supportive.’
    • ‘Because fashion's goldfish attention span is antithetical to the lasting power of great music, few worthwhile bands have come up from the catwalk rather than the street.’
    • ‘For a great number in both the academic world and in the public, apocalyptic thought is directly antithetical to the supposedly enlightened and rational methodology of science.’
    • ‘They were intrepid advocates, eager to bust open scandals and make waves - completely antithetical to most mainstream reporters nowadays.’
    • ‘If you accept that a market will exist so long as scarcity obtains and humans with varying preferences have needs, then the only way that a technology could prove antithetical to markets is if it altered one of these conditions.’
    • ‘So there seems to be some value in deliberately slow networks, but these seem to be antithetical to our current economic, political and cultural interest in digital networks.’
    • ‘Organised political violence outside the framework of the state is antithetical to the state and therefore regarded - by the state - as the most dangerous form of violence.’
    • ‘But all three propositions are false and antithetical to all that conservatism teaches about the importance of cultural inertia and historical circumstances.’
    • ‘Human slavery had to be brought to an end in the United States; it's so antithetical to everything else that the country is about that it couldn't be allowed to continue.’
    • ‘But for that to occur, Chamberlin realizes that we must do something most of us find antithetical to the patterns we've inherited.’
    • ‘That seemed at the time to be antithetical to a real process of understanding a piece of writing, but in retrospect I think nearly everyone reached their understanding at that point.’
    • ‘It's certainly antithetical to left wing politics, which requires you to remain engaged and would require the artist to include politics in his art.’
    • ‘Shakespeare's work in particular was considered to antithetical to God's will and works of his that found their way into Puritan hands were burned.’
    • ‘The whole idea of talking openly and sharing your feelings is antithetical to the good old-time values of emotional repression on which this country was founded.’
    • ‘Price caps being antithetical to a free market.’
    • ‘So these acts are completely antithetical to the basic tenets of Islam, which are the basic tenets of Judaism and Christianity as well.’
    • ‘Moreover, in some cultures, the idea of seeking an occupation, or working to advance the self, is meaningless within or even antithetical to dominant belief systems.’
    • ‘It is a craven, disingenuous, and destructive canard, antithetical to interracial harmony and black excellence - and racist besides.’
    • ‘Many of these women do not see religion as antithetical to feminism, and perceive religious affiliation as integral to their struggle for human rights on many different levels.’
    • ‘I mean the circuses where dogs are somehow persuaded to do things that are antithetical to dogdom, like learn to ride a tricycle or serve petits fours in a French maid's outfit.’
    opposed to, directly opposed to, contrary to, contradictory to, conflicting with, incompatible with, irreconcilable with, inconsistent with, at variance with, at odds with, contrasting with, different from, different to, differing from, divergent from, unlike
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  • 2attributive Connected with, containing, or using the rhetorical device of antithesis.

    • ‘It is written in Attic Greek, with much studiedly antithetical rhetoric and frequent verbal borrowings from the classical authors, above all Thucydides.’
    • ‘The image of idiocy was well suited for the scriptural style of antithetical positions represented in Hooker's sermon.’
    • ‘Then the two verses before it with wonderful antithetical parallelism, and the two verses after it with the exhortation to persevere.’
    • ‘The great age of English satire began with Dryden, who perfected the epigrammatic and antithetical use of the heroic couplet for this purpose.’
    • ‘His own prose style plays a part in some of the richest characterizations: the essay on Coriolanus is abrasive, that on Macbeth antithetical, on Hamlet inward-looking.’


Late 16th century (in antithetical (sense 2)): from Greek antithetikos, from antithetos ‘placed in opposition’, from antitithenai ‘set against’.