According to Wikipedia:

An antithesis must always contain two ideas within one statement

A similar effect (parallelism emphasizing opposition of ideas) can be created in which the first element is implied by some famous phrase that is so well known that it cannot be mistaken. What is the name of this rhetorical device?

I'm also interested in famous examples (which may not exist because once the variant became famous, the effect would be lessened).

Some examples of this device might be:

  • "the land of the free and the home of the slaves"
  • "baby it's code outside"
  • "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Sewer except through me."
  • "Some men just want to watch the world bloom"
  • You mean like "Right makes might"?
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 8, 2019 at 1:22
  • How about "A soft figure turneth the sports car"?
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 8, 2019 at 2:14
  • @KannE "We make money the old fashioned way, we steal it !" is the best one i've come up with (though the phrase it references is a bit dated). "Right makes might" has an additional characteristic, ie the words are reordered, but otherwise works. In the case of "A soft figure ..." I don't feel anything is amplified - the two meanings are pretty orthogonal
    – nqzero
    Apr 8, 2019 at 3:39
  • 1
    @nqzero - If they're orthogonal I must be right!
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 8, 2019 at 11:53
  • 2
    @KannE yes ! "out like a lion"
    – nqzero
    Apr 9, 2019 at 0:04

3 Answers 3


I think there are a few words that could be used, depending on how the sentence is changed.

A parody, which as defined by Oxford Dictionary is, "imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect." Though, in this case, it's not necessarily for comedic effect.

or "purposeful catachresis." Dictionary.com defines it as "misuse or strained use of words, as in a mixed metaphor, occurring either in error or for rhetorical effect." Your examples, of course, are more of the latter.


It is called "antithetic parallelism". The Bible offers many examples:

  • A wise son maketh a glad father, but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. Proverbs 10:1

  • For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish. Psalms 1:6

  • The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened. Proverbs 10:27

  • 1
    in each of your examples, both portions of the parallel construction are explicit. i'm interested in the case in which the first is implied (by being so famous that it can't be mistaken). also, this device flips two portions, resulting in similar meanings. i'm trying to produce the opposite meaning
    – nqzero
    Apr 8, 2019 at 12:51

I would recommend CACOGRAPHY:

According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary: cacography

: bad spelling

As a stylistic device it's defined in Wikipedia:

"Cacography is deliberate comic misspelling, a type of humour similar to malapropism".

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