Is there a word to describe an exactly opposite situation? In context, if someone describes a situation in which he found himself, and I tell him I found myself in the exactly opposite situation, what word would describe this? Let's assume irony may be involved in some way, but that is not the word I am looking for.

  • 4
    Antithesis? Look up its synonyms, as well. – Kris Jul 18 '14 at 6:59
  • An 'antithetical' situation? Incidentally, though people use the term 'exact opposite' I think it ought to be 'exactly opposite', otherwise I would feel a need to hyphenate, as in 'an exact-opposite situation'. But I already hear @Fumble Fingers tut-tutting at this. – WS2 Jul 18 '14 at 7:03
  • I'm afraid your question is unclear. I'll attempt to clarify it, but if I'm way off base, just let me know. Don – rhetorician Jul 18 '14 at 12:59
  • Why do you think there might be a single word for this? – tchrist Jul 18 '14 at 19:12
  • how about "opposite"? – Oldcat Jul 18 '14 at 21:13

Since you have used the word irony, I am tempted to say that two exactly opposite situations are not ironic; they are coincidental. Perhaps an example would help.

Frieda: "My dog Willie ran away this week, and I haven't been able to locate him."

Sally to Freida: "Hmmm. I suppose I shouldn't tell you, but just this week I became the owner of a rescue dog from the Humane Society!"

Here are two "exactly opposite situations," but they do not necessarily involve irony, just an unfortunate coincidence. One situation is sad; the other is joyful. One person lost a dog, and the other person "found" a dog.

Perhaps commenters @WS2 and @Kris, above, are on the right track in suggesting that what you describe as "exactly opposite situations" are in some sense "antithetical situations."

Is there a single word besides antithetical, though? That's a tough one. Two words would work just fine, but one word? Not so much! How about

  • a weird coincidence?

  • an incredible coincidence?

  • a surprising coincidence?

  • a sad coincidence?

  • a snafu? (s ituation n ormal, a ll f ouled u p)

  • bad karma/good karma?

  • bad luck? (A thief steals a hundred times in a row without getting caught, and you, when you impulsively and for the first time in your life pick up a donut in a store and eat it without paying for it, get caught and arrested for shoplifting! Now those two situations are in a sense "opposite" and tinged with irony, especially if you have a reputation for being an upstanding, law-abiding citizen.)

Unless you provide a clearer context for your two "opposite situations," I'm at a loss as to what to call them, at least in one word.

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