Consider the following English sentence:

Clark Kent is the alter ego of Superman

The latter uses a Latin expression, alter ego, meaning the "other self".

Now, consider this sentence:

Jeffersonian Democracy is the antithesis of British political system

I am looking for a Latin word or short phrase that replaces "antithesis" in the latter sentence (I want to use Latin to give "force" to the expression). At the moment have found contrarius and adversus ego. Apparently, "anti" is not used in Latin (see related question) so "anti ego" might not be an option.

  • Makes better sense now! You might also want to add in that the expression your looking for is an idiom. Even though it's tagged as such, people might miss that. Re: adversus ego, that's not the correct grammar. You could theoretically see adversus me, since adversus is a preposition that takes an accusative. Someone else can chime in with an actual answer to your question, though.
    – cmw
    Jul 11, 2017 at 15:11

3 Answers 3


Smith's English-Latin should help you out:

antithesis: 1. contrarium (strictly a contrary thing or proposition, not antithesis abstractedly): there is an a. (in the passage), contraria opponuntur, Cic. Or. 49 : the statement of an a., relatio contrariorum, ib. (in this passage he describes such passages as “quae Graeci [antitheta] nominant, quum contraria contrariis opponuntur”) 2. contentio: Cic. : Quint. 3. contrapositum : Quint. 4. distinctio : Quint. : contrapositum is stated by Quint. (9, 3, 81) to be synonymous with contentio : whereas distinctio is a peculiar kind of antithesis, in which the members are exactly balanced, word by word. 5. antitheton (. Cic. 1. c. supr.) : polished antitheses, rasa antitheta, Pers.—NOTE. Not antithesis ; which denotes a change of letter ; Charis.

Added after the questioner's comment:

I think you might simply use locus contrarius, meaning 'the direct(ly) opposite (position)' :

'Jeffersonian Democracy is the locus contrarius of [the] British political system.'


I suggest using the adjective contrarius. Cicero makes frequent use of this adjective, for example:

  • Nam ut utilitatem nullam esse docuimus, quae honestati esset contraria, sic omnem voluptatem dicimus honestati esse contrariam. — De Officiis, 3.119
  • virtutis contraria est vitiositas — Tusculanae Disputationes, 4.34

As the dictionary entry shows, the adjective contrarius can be used with genitive, dative, atque, or inter se. I warmly suggest taking a close look at the entry to see more detail and examples. It is flexible to use and idiomatic classical Latin.

My attempt at translating your example:

Jeffersonian Democracy is the antithesis of British political system.
Democratia Jeffersoniana contraria est rationi politicae Britannicae.

Added after the question was clarified: Since the original question did not mention English, I assumed the phrase was intended for use in Latin. If you want to use a Latin expression in an English sentence, then perhaps res contraria works. It is a reasonable (classical) Latin term and it has certain naturality and weight to it.

  • So would it be "Jeffersonian Democracy is the res contraria of British political system"?
    – luchonacho
    Jul 12, 2017 at 11:24
  • 1
    @luchonacho Exactly! It's not an established expression, but I hope it has the right kind of feeling to it.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 12, 2017 at 11:51
  • Not sure which one to pick. res contraria or locus contrarius...
    – luchonacho
    Jul 12, 2017 at 11:53

Maybe a word "antipode"?


the direct opposite of something.
  • 1
    Welcome to the site, Josip! The question specifically asked for something in Latin, but "antipode" sounds English to me. Is there a related Latin expression you could suggest?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Feb 3, 2019 at 0:09
  • Yes, you are right - it is English. But even the Latin coutnerpart is not far: antipodes.
    – Josip P
    Feb 11, 2019 at 12:14

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