Antithesis: To put against

Antithesis: something which is the opposite of the subject.

It was first used in the 1530s where it described, particularly, the opposition of something in rhetoric. It comes from the Greek ‘antitithenai’ which was made up of two parts; ‘anti’ meaning ‘against’ and ‘tithenai’ which meant ‘to put’ or ‘to place’, so effectively ‘antithesis’ means ‘to put against’.

The ‘tithenai’ part comes from the proto-indo-European word ‘dhe’ which meant the same thing.

It was the Greeks who first used the word thesis (from the Latin ‘titenai’) to mean a ‘proposition’, which is why university students find themselves writing a ‘thesis’.

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