For example, referring to a 7 feet tall, 450 lb man with the nickname "Tiny".

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    So @FumbleFingers, are you actually quite dexterous or is your name accurate? :) Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 15:44
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    ANTIPHRASIS: Use of an expression where its exact opposite would be appropriate. Antiphrasis usually is intended to produce an ironic or humorous effect. Examples: a bald man called "Curly" or a tall fat man called "Tiny."
    – Dan
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 15:47
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    @Dan - I think you should post that as an actual answer, because it is one. (But also mention the source of the definition you found.)
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 15:49
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    @Golden: Most of my work for almost 40 years was effectively programming, but you might be surprised how few lines of code a "productive" worker generates. It was never a problem in that context that I've always typed using just two fingers of one hand, but I really can't keep up in ELU's online chat. Okay, that's partly because I'm not a very quick thinker either (but I like to kid myself that as with the million monkeys on their million typewriters, given time I'll come out with something good! :) Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 15:53
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    @Little Eva: It's from the 1st International Obfuscated C Code Contest (1984), so I assume you could open it in a C compiler. I don't have one to hand, but my guess is it probably just displays "Hello World!" on the console (as apparently do 90% of all C programs ever written :) Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 18:03

2 Answers 2


(From the online OED) Antiphrasis (Rhetoric)

  1. A figure of speech by which words are used in a sense opposite to their proper meaning.

1533 T. More Debellacyon Salem & Bizance i. v. f. xxix, The fygure of ironye or antiphrasys.

1589 G. Puttenham Arte Eng. Poesie iii. xviii. 159 Antiphrasis, or the Broad floute..as..to [say to] a Negro..in good sooth ye are a faire one.

1650 O. Cromwell Lett. & Speeches (Carlyle) (1857) ii. 110 You are pastors, but it is by an antiphrasis, a minime pascendo.

1739 tr. C. Rollin Anc. Hist. (ed. 2) VIII. 15 He was, by antiphrasis, sirnamed Philopator.

1853 E. K. Kane U.S. Grinnell Exped. (1856) iv. 33 It was a bold antiphrasis that gave such a vernal title [Greenland] to this birth-place of icebergs.

  • I find it disappointing that the OED has nothing more recent than 1853 on this. We in Britain particularly are fond of this form of irony, and the term merits wider use. Do you know how it is pronounced and what its adjectival and adverbial forms would be?
    – WS2
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 8:58
  • There are some nice examples here - literarydevices.net/antiphrasis
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 11:02

the term is antiphrasis from the Greek antiphrazein, “to express by antithesis or negation”.Please see:http://rhetoric.byu.edu/figures/A/antiphrasis.htm

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