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I am writing a book and looking for some kind of figurative language to describe two people that are 'at odds' with each other.

When I say, 'at odds,' the context of my writing is: two characters that are constantly butting heads, one of whom doesn't trust the other, and so the relationship between the characters is always rough around the edges. They tend to find that they are on opposite sides of the argument in their small group of friends almost every time.

I think some kind of simile, metaphor, or other colorful language would be more appropriate in my writing, and I am coming up empty trying to collect some phrases that might be good substitutes. Thanks!

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  • Could you provide a bit more context as to them being "at odds"? Are they opponents in a match, contending for the same promotion/job, warring against each other in battle? The more context you give the better we can give a more accurate phrase.
    – Tyler N
    Jul 14 '20 at 19:38
  • Have you looked it up? Jul 14 '20 at 19:49
  • Sure. The context of my writing are two characters that are constantly butting heads, one of whom doesn't trust the other, and so the relationship between the characters is always rough around the edges. They tend to find that they are on opposite sides of the argument in their small group of friends almost every time @TylerN I did look it up, but I only found single word synonyms, whereas I am more looking for figurative language to describe their relationship a little more colorfully Jul 14 '20 at 19:53
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    @PeterOlson Thank you for accepting my request. On Stack Exchange it is best to add pertinent information to the post itself rather than solely in a comment, as not all viewers of your post will look into the comments. I submitted an edit for approval to add this info, so no action is required on your part, just letting you know for future posts. :)
    – Tyler N
    Jul 14 '20 at 19:58
  • Ah ok, yeah thanks for doing that! Jul 14 '20 at 20:09
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I think a suitable synonymous phrase is to be 'at loggerheads'.

Meaning - In dispute with.

The origin of the phrase 'At loggerheads' ......'At loggerheads' is of UK origin. The singular 'loggerhead' occurs as a name in several contexts - as a species of turtle, a bird and as a place name. Originally, a loggerhead was none of these but was used with the meaning of 'a stupid person - a blockhead'. Shakespeare used it that way in Love's Labours Lost, 1588: ... (more --->

Phrases.org

UK Corporate Bond Markets at Loggerheads over Sunak Stimulus

Global Capital 09 July 2020

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In terms of actual idioms, I will present two that show opposite sides of the spectrum—the second is what you're looking for.


Always agree

People who normally agree over most things get on like a house on fire:

[Collins Dictionary]
If two people get on like a house on fire, they quickly become close friends, for example because they have many interests in common.


Always disagree

People who normally disagree and clash over most things are like oil and water:

[Collins Dictionary]
two people who are like oil and water are very different from each other
He and the General did not get along. The two were like oil and water together.

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  • Ah excellent, that is exactly what I am looking for. Thanks! Jul 14 '20 at 20:54
  • +1, I think "like oil and water" is perfect.
    – Tyler N
    Jul 15 '20 at 2:11
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At odds is commonly used to describe two parties who are in conflict with each other.

Especially when it comes to people, incompatible can be used to describe two people who cannot get along with each other. This doesn't mean that the two people don't have a relationship with each other; couples (boyfriend/girlfriend) are commonly referred to as incompatible if they constantly fight/argue.

You could say that they are constantly clashing with each other.

Another word that could work well is to describe their relationship as inharmonious.

I don't know if there's a perfect figure of speech or phrase, but you could say:

Tommy and Alice are completely incompatible, they constantly butt heads. Alice doesn't trust Tommy, even. They always clash in arguments. Overall, their relationship is very bumpy and inharmonious.

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  • They are used to working against each other in at least one subject despite their perhaps otherwise harmonious relationship.
    – Elliot
    Jul 14 '20 at 20:47
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How about never or rarely on the same page? From The Free Dictionary:

on the same page: Of two or more people, thinking in the same manner; having the same general outlook or position.

The two people who are at odds with one another are never or rarely on the same page.

You could also consider these two people to be polar opposites. From the Urban Dictionary:

polar opposites: The complete opposite to one another, e.g., "The two men were twin brothers, but they were polar opposites."

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