Antimetabole (derives from Greek anti “in opposite direction,” and metabole “turning about”), is a form of speech with inverted order of words; so that the meaning is twisted, as:

  • “A poem is a speaking picture; a picture is a mute poem.”
  • “We must eat to live, and not live to eat.”

This is achieved by the inverted order of repeated words in adjacent phrases or clauses (A-B, B-A). Antimetabole is similar to chiasmusOpens in new window, in which one sentence is the grammatical inverse of the next.

Examples of Antimetabole

  1. Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”

    — Samuel Johnson, Rasselas

  2. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter

    Isaiah 5:20

  3. You can take the gorilla out of the jungle, but you can't take the jungle out of the gorilla.
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Similar Literatures: Figures of Emphasis

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