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Antiphrasis

 

Techniques > Use of language > Figures of speech > Antiphrasis

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Antiphrasis is the use of words in a sense opposite to its real meaning.

Example

Oh, I am so beautiful! My long nose and pimple so attractive!

I am but a child of sixty years.

That is the worst performance I have seen. Oh, look at your face! -- actually I loved it.

Discussion

When something does not make sense, it surprises people, making them stop and think about what is really meant. A reversal is a very simple puzzle to solve, so people will generally get the meaning quite quickly.

Irony uses incongruity to create wry humor. The reversal in antiphrasis is hence a very easy way of creating ironic statements.

Antiphrasis can also be used for sarcasm, reversing something to show that you know well what is intended.

Antiphrasis comes from the Greek 'anti', meaning 'opposite', and 'phrasis', meaning 'diction'; also 'antiphrazein,' meaning 'to express by antithesis or negation.'

Classification: Reversal, Meaning

See also

Surprise principle

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