In rhetoric, antimetabole is the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed grammatical order (e.g., "I know what I like, and I like what I know"). It is similar to chiasmus although chiasmus does not use repetition of the same words or phrases.


*Latin: "Miser ex potente fiat ex misero potens" Seneca the Younger, "Thyestes", Act I.10 (let it make misery from power and power from misery).
*The Latinate expression of Parmenides philosophical thesis of immutability is rendered "Ex nihilo nihil fit" (from nothing nothing comes).
*When a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog that is news. (Charles Anderson Dana, "What is News?" The New York Sun, 1882)
*"Ask not what "your country" can do for "you"; ask what "you" can do for "your country"." John F. Kennedy, "Inaugural Address", January 20 1961.
*"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." Jesus (Mark 2:27)
*"Johnson having now explicitly avowed his opinion of Lord Chesterfield, did not refrain from expressing himself concerning that nobleman with pointed freedom: 'This man (said he) I thought had been a "Lord" among "wits"; but, I find, he is only a "wit" among "Lords"!' " James Boswell Life of Johnson
*"Now this is not the end. It is not even the "beginning" of the "end", but it is, perhaps, the "end" of the "beginning." Winston Churchill, "The Lord Mayor's Luncheon, Mansion House", November 10 1942.
*"We" didn't land on "Plymouth Rock", the "rock" was landed on "us"." Malcolm X, "The Ballot or the Bullet", Washington Heights, NY, March 29 1964.
*"I "meant" what I "said", and I "said" what I "meant". An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent!" Dr. Seuss, "Horton Hatches an Egg".
* To be "kissed" by a "fool" is stupid; To be "fooled" by a "kiss" is worse. Ambrose Redmoon.
*"Nice to see you, to see you nice" Bruce Forsyth
* Many rhetorical figures in the writing of Karl Marx exhibit antimetabole or chiasmus. For example, his critique of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's "The Philosophy of Poverty" titled "The Poverty of Philosophy" contains such an inversion by reference. Similarly, in the preface to "A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy", Marx wrote: "It is not the "consciousness" of men that "determines their being", but, on the contrary, their "social being" that "determines their consciousness".
*Dorothy Parker famously elided an antimetabole when she explained a tardy submission with "too fucking busy, and vice versa."
* "All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful," Talmud. []
* "Not all schooling is education nor all education, schooling." Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom.


It is derived from the Greek "anti" ("against","in opposite direction") and "metabole" ("turning about").

ee also

*Figure of speech
*Russian reversal


*Corbett, Edward P.J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. Oxford University Press, New York, 1971.

External links

* [ Audio illustrations of antimetabole]
* [ Examples in U.S.A politics.]
* [ NPR story]

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  • Antimetabole —   [griechisch »Verstellung«] die, / n, Stilistik: rethorische Figur, bei der in zwei gleich gebauten Sätzen zwei Wörter in umgekehrter Reihenfolge wiederholt werden, z. B.: »wir leben nicht, um zu essen, sondern wir essen, um zu leben«. Die… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • antimetabole — (n.) 1590s, from Gk. antimetabole, from anti opposite (see ANTI (Cf. anti )) + metabole turning about (see METABOLISM (Cf. metabolism)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Antimetabole — An ti*me*tab o*le, n. [L., fr. Gr. ?.] (Rhet.) A figure in which the same words or ideas are repeated in transposed order. [1913 Webster] || …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Antimetabŏle — (gr., Rhet.), Wiederholung derselben Wörter in veränderter Form, z.B. Iß, um zu leben, lebe nicht, um zu essen …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Antimetabole — Antimetabole, rhet. Figur, Wiederholung derselben Worte in veränderter Folge; z.B. das bekannte: wir essen um zu leben, leben nicht um zu essen …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

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  • Antimétabole — L’antimétabole (substantif féminin), du grec anti (« en sens inverse »), de meta (« changer ») et de ballein (« en jetant »), littéralement : « répétition selon un ordre inversé », est une figure de… …   Wikipédia en Français

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