Paraphrase Tool


Updated Mar 12, 2023

Understanding the Power of Antimetabole: A Guide to this Rhetorical Device

Have you ever come across a powerful statement that left you pondering its meaning long after it was uttered? Chances are, that statement employed a rhetorical device called antimetabole. Antimetabole, which comes from the Greek word "antimetabolḗ," meaning "turning about," is a skillful technique used by writers and speakers to create memorable and impactful phrases. In this blog article, we will delve into the world of antimetabole, exploring its definition, purpose, and providing some insightful examples.

Unveiling the Definition of Antimetabole

Antimetabole is a figure of speech in which words or phrases are repeated in reverse order to create a contrasting effect. This device plays with language, placing emphasis on the reversal of words to highlight opposing ideas or create a balanced structure within a sentence. It serves as a rhetorical tool to reinforce a point, create balance, and enhance the overall impact of a statement.

The Purpose of Antimetabole: Rhetorical Impact and Effectiveness

Antimetabole serves several purposes when employed in writing or speaking. Let's explore some of its main objectives:

1. Emphasizing contrasting ideas

By reversing the order of words or phrases, antimetabole accentuates the contrast between two concepts or ideas. This technique reinforces the importance of the message being conveyed and helps the audience grasp the stark difference between the two elements being presented.

Example: "Eat to live, not live to eat."

2. Creating a memorable and impactful statement

Antimetabole adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to language, making the statement more memorable and impactful. It captures the attention of the audience and leaves a lasting impression, as the phrase is structured in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and intellectually stimulating.

Example: "Fair is foul and foul is fair." - William Shakespeare

3. Enhancing rhythm and balance

Antimetabole contributes to the rhythmic flow of language by creating a balanced structure. The reversal of words or phrases adds a musical quality to the sentence, making it pleasant to the ear and aiding in the overall delivery of the message.

Example: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." - John F. Kennedy

Unforgettable Antimetabole Examples

To better understand the power of antimetabole, let's explore a few remarkable examples from renowned speeches and literary works:

  1. "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." - Joseph P. Kennedy
  2. "I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better." - A. J. Liebling
  3. "In America, you can always find a party. In Russia, the party always finds you." - Yakov Smirnoff
  4. "I meant what I said and I said what I meant." - Dr. Seuss
  5. "We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw


Antimetabole, with its ability to emphasize contrasting ideas, create memorable statements, and enhance rhythm and balance, is a powerful rhetorical device employed by skilled communicators. By utilizing this technique, writers and speakers can captivate their audience, leaving a lasting impact on their minds. As you continue your journey in the world of rhetoric, remember the power of antimetabole and its potential to transform your words into masterpieces of persuasion.


About Paraphrase Tool

Getting your wording just right

Paraphrasing is a natural part of the writing process as it helps you clarify your thinking and suit your words to your audience. Using a Paraphrase Tool helps structure and streamline this work, and our paraphrase tool offers 20 modes, many of them free, for accomplishing just this. The 20 modes we offer are diverse, including a summarize tool, a free grammar checker, a mode to simplify text, and a sentence shortener. There are sentence rephrasers and paraphrase rephrase tools, and we pride ourselves on having both, since our reword generator accounts for context at both the sentence and paragraph levels.

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