What is a word or phrase that expresses the idea of purposely making something seem better by comparison? For example, lemon Starburst was created to make the cherry flavor seem that much tastier.

  • Is there something about by comparison that you don't like, or are you just looking for alternatives?
    – Cameron
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 23:18
  • The latter. I asked the question because I keep on thinking there is a more specific term that I just can't remember.
    – jsuissa
    Commented Apr 21, 2012 at 23:41

4 Answers 4


The name for something that is used to make something else look different by comparison is a foil:

foil, noun. Anything that serves by contrast of colour or quality to adorn another thing or set it off to advantage.

The presence of a foil induces a cognitive bias known as a contrast effect.

I'm not aware of any terms that mean to create a foil or to induce a contrast effect.


Watson is a perfect foil for Holmes because his relative obtuseness makes Holmes's deductions seem more brilliant.

[Britannica Online]

(emphasis mine.)



The lemon starburt differentiated cherry from other flavors.


You can say something like: "The lemon Starburt was created to make cherry flavor seem tastier by comparison."

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