In rhetoric, antimetabole (/æntɪməˈtæbəl/ AN-ti-mə-TAB-ə-lee) is the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in transposed order; for example, "I know what I like, and I like what I know". It is related to, and sometimes considered a special case of, chiasmus. Antimetabole has an ABBA configuration as seen in the following example from Mark 2:27: “the sabbath [A] was made for humankind [B], and not humankind [B] for the sabbath [A].” [1]

An antimetabole is also said to be a little too predictive because it is easy to reverse the key term, but it can pose questions that one usually would not think of if the phrase were just asked or said the initial way.[2]



It is derived from the Greek ἀντιμεταβολή (antimetabolḗ), from ἀντί (antí, "against, opposite") and μεταβολή (metabolḗ, "turning about, change").

See also


  • Corbett, Edward P.J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. Oxford University Press, New York, 1971.
  1. ^ James L. Resseguie, Narrative Criticism of the New Testament: An Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 59; Resseguie, "A Glossary of New Testament Narrative Criticism with Illustrations," in Religions, 10 (3: 217),8-9.
  2. ^ Fahnestock, Jeanne (1999). Rhetorical Figures in Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 123–134.
  3. ^ Douglass, Frederick (1995). Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc. p. 13. ISBN 0-486-28499-9.

External links

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