Figure Name enantiosis
Source Silva Rhetoricae (http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Silva.htm); Smith ("enantiosis" "contentio" "contention" "contrariety") 118 ; JG Smith (1665) ("enantiosis"); Vinsauf (1967) ("contentio"); Gibbons (1767) 247 ("enantiosis"); Holmes (1806) ("enantiosis"); De Mille (1882) ("synoeceosis," "enantiosis"); Bullinger (1898) ("enantiosis; or, contraries"); Johnson (1903) ("enantiosis or litotes"); Johnson (1903) ("enantiosis or correction"_
Earliest Source None
Synonyms contraries, contentio contraries, contention, contrariety, contentio, synoeceosis, litotes, correction
Etymology from Gk. enantios, "opposite"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain

1. Using opposing or contrary descriptions together, typically in a somewhat paradoxical manner. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Contention: a figure when we speak that by a contrary, which we would have to be understood as it were by affirmation.; Enantiosis, Contentio, Contention or contrariety: derived from [enanti*s] adversus vel oppositus, opposite or contrary. A figure when we speak that by a contrary which we would have to be understood as it were by affirmation. (JG Smith)

3. (Contentio) If a mode of expression both easy and adorned is desired, set aside all the techniques of the dignified style and have to recourse to means that are simple, but of a simplicity that does not shock the ear by its rudeness. Here are the rhetorical colours with which to adorn your style: (Vinsauf)

3. There are other figures to adorn the meaning of words. All of these I include in the following brief treatment: when meaning is adorned, this is the standard procedure. ... ((9) contentio) [by contentio] I institute a comparison in which the positions set forth are antithetical to each other. (Vinsauf)

4. "a Figure, by which things very different or contrary are compared or placed together, and by which they mutually set off and enhance each other." (Gibbons)

5. Enantiosis poiseth diff'rent things, And words and sense as into balance brings. (Holmes)

Things of an opposite or different nature are contrasted with one another. (De Mille)

7. Affirmation of Negation by Contraries... The figure Antithesis is called Enantiosis when the contrast is expressed by affirmatives and negatives. What is stated affirmatively meant negatively, or vice versa. When it is stated both ways, it is kind of Pleonasm. The difference being that Pleonasm refers to any statement, while Enantiosis refers to affirmation by contraries. (Bullinger, 713)

8. Enantio'sis or Lito'tes.—This figure is defined briefly as affirmation by contraries... When it is used with discrimination it is a good figure; but in perhaps the majority of instances where it occurs it has no moreiorce or significance than a plain affirmative
declaration. If something has been said that implies a doubt of the correctness or justice of certain expectations, it is good rhetoric to declare that those expectations are by no means unreasonable; but if no attack has been made upon them, it is more
dignified to declare simply that they are reasonable. If one has wrought at a task that is generally understood to be thankless, bift in this instance has riot proved to be so, it is good rhetoric to say, "His toil is not unrewarded." In other words, it is perhaps better not to use this figure except when there is a dispute or a doubt, expressed or implied, real or imaginary, as to the proposition. (Johnson, 94-95)

9. Enantio'sis or Correction.—This figure is an immediate recalling of something that has been uttered, for the purpose of substituting a stronger or clearer statement. Logically, it should occur only in conversation or oratory; and it should appear to be the result of a sudden second thought. In written discourse, if it were what it appears to be, the question would be pertinent, Why not strike out the weaker clause, and let only the stronger one stand? But if it is used skilfully, the purpose is to fix the reader's attention upon a proposition that he might pass over without apprehending its importance. (Johnson, 97-98)


1. Money is an excellent servant but a cruel master. (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. I could neither continue listening nor turn away. (Silva Rhetoricae)

1. Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. —Psalm 1:1 (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Neither the one hurt her, nor the other help her. (JG Smith)

3. He who was rich became poor; he who was happy, wretched; he who enjoyed such radiance was thrust back into darkness. (Vinsauf)

3. ((9) contentio (antithesis)) It may be that no mortal thing disturbs them, yet while this stands against them the death of the soul results from one sin as well as from many. (Vinsauf)

4. "One more instance of the Enantiosis shall close the examples from Scripture: 2 Cor. Vi. 4, 8-10. 'But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God--By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true, as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.'" (Gibbons)

5. Truth brings Foes, Flattery brings Friends. (Holmes)

6. This is called "synoeceosis," and also "enantiosis:"
"Polarity, or action and reaction, we meetin gin every part of nature, in darkness and light, in heat and cold, in the ebb and flow of waters, in male and female, in the inspiration and expiration of plants and animals, in the systole and diastole of the heart." -EMERSON.
"Every sweet has its sour, every evil its good." -EMERSON.
"Opinions may make a man a heretic, but that they make a traitor I have never heard till now." -EARL OF STRAFFORD.
"My hold on the colonies is the close affection which grows from common names, from kindred blood, from similar privileges, and equal protection. These are ties which, though light as air, yet are strong as links of iron." -BURKE.
"To a shape like this, so small yet so comprehensive, so slight yet so lasting, so insignificant yet so venerable, turns the mighty activity of Homer, and so turning is enabled to live and warm us forever." -LEIGH HUNT.
"High interest, bad security." -DUKE OF WELLINGTON.
"But thousands die without this or that,
Die, and endow a college or a cat." -POPE. (De Mille)

7. Ps. 1:1. -We have here a beautiful series of affirmation by contraries.
Isa. 45:22. -"I am God, and there is none else." (Bullinger, 713)

8. There is a fine example in a famous passage in Macaulay's essay on Milton: "He [the Puritan] had been rescued by no common deliverer from the grasp of no common foe. He had been ransomed by the sweat of no vulgar agony, by the blood of no earthy sacrifice." Another example is found in Rogers's Columbus, where the mutinous mariners exclaim:
"Were there no graves—none in our land," they cry,
"That thou hast brought us on the deep to die ?"

This idea, by the way, is borrowed from Exodus xiv, II, where the expression is almost precisely the same. Simple examples of this figure occur frequently
in conversation and in newspapers, as: "His toil was not unrewarded," and "His expectations are by no means unreasonable." (Johnson, 94-95)

9. Daniel Webster's speech at the trial of a murderer presents an example : " The guilty soul can not keep its own secret. It is false to itself—or rather it feels an irresistible impulse of conscience to be true to itself." The simplest form of the figure occurs frequently in conversation, and occasionally gets into print. Here is an example from Charles Lamb's Old Margate Hoy: "We had neither of us seen the sea." This would be allowable in conversation, because it may be supposed that the thought of making the declaration emphatic did not occur to the speaker till he had utered the first two words, and then he said "neither of us" instead of simply saying "not." But in his essay Lamb should have changed it to "Neither of
us had seen the sea." (Johnson, 98)

Kind Of Opposition
Part Of
Related Figures antithesis, antitheton, paradox, oxymoron, synoeciosis
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes
Reviewed No