I know there's a word for this, but despite my attempts on Google, I was unable to find the term I'm looking for. I know it's not a paradox, which is a statement or concept that appears to make sense but in fact contradicts itself.

What I'm looking for is a term to describe something like the following:

Relaxation, then, is not an end...it is for the sake of activity.

This is from a text we're reading for class. The author talks about the Sabbath in the Jewish religion. I'm looking for a term to succinctly describe the fact that the irony of the sentence or the antithesis of "relaxation" and "activity" conveys a truth: that by engaging in periods of idleness, one is able to collect one's strength and engage in activity anew.

Note that antithesis by itself just refers to the use of two contradictory ideas in close proximity. The term I'm thinking of suggests that this antithesis is employed to impart wisdom in a poetic manner.

  • Can you broaden your request to allow for phrases beyond single words? Jun 13, 2017 at 17:06
  • I'm not convinced that paradox doesn't apply here (informally). Also your own irony seems very apt. Jun 13, 2017 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


That would be an epigram: "A concise, clever, often paradoxical statement" (American Heritage).

  • Yep, I believe that's the word I was looking for. After reading more about epigrams online, I'm convinced it suits this well. Thank you.
    – AleksandrH
    Jun 13, 2017 at 17:21

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