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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.

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.[1]


  • "Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno"
  • "Eat to live, not live to eat." Attributed to Socrates
  • Latin: Miser ex potente fiat ex misero potens Seneca the Younger, Thyestes, Act I.10 (let it make misery from power and power from misery).
  • "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." — John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.
  • "He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions." — The Sphinx, Mystery Men (1999)
  • "You stood up for America, now America must stand up for you." Barack Obama — December 14, 2011.
  • "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace," — Jimi Hendrix paraphrasing William Gladstone who originally said "We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace."
  • "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
  • "With my mind on my money and my money on my mind." — Attributed to Snoop Dogg in the song "Gin and Juice"
  • "In America, you can always find a party. In Soviet Russia, Party always finds you!" — Yakov Smirnoff
  • "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,'—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." — John Keats, "Ode on a Grecian Urn"
  • "The further I get from the things that I care about, the less I care about how much further away I get." — Robert Smith of The Cure ("Fear of Ghosts")
  • "The great object of [Hamlet's] life is defeated by continually resolving to do, yet doing nothing but resolve." — Samuel Taylor Coleridge on Shakespeare's Hamlet
  • "There cannot first be external peace if there is not first internal peace, and once you figure that out then I promise you, the entire world will transform, will change; and as more people find themselves, mankind has the opportunity to become kind man" — Prince Ea
  • "We do what we like and we like what we do." — Andrew W.K., "Party Hard"
  • "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." — John Wooden
  • "We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us." — Malcolm X, Malcolm X
  • "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with." — Billy Preston, as used by Stephen Stills in "Love the One You're With"
  • "Need the one you love, love the one you need" — System of a Down in "Mind"
  • "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant." — Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg
  • "For we that live to please, must please to live." — Samuel Johnson
  • "A scattered dream that's like a far-off memory... a far-off memory that's like a scattered dream." — Shiro Amano, Kingdom Hearts II
  • "Stop him! He crowned me in th' knickers an' nicked me crown!" — Alternate Queen of England in Futurama episode, "All the Presidents' Heads" (2011)
  • "The odds are good, but the goods are odd."
  • "Giacomo, 'King of Jesters and Jester of Kings'" — A recurring phrase in the 1956 Danny Kaye film The Court Jester[2]
  • "I'm not a writer with a drinking problem—I'm a drinker with a writing problem." — Dorothy Parker
  • "A cat has claws at the end of its paws. A comma's a pause at the end of a clause." — Grammatical joke[3]
  • 'Son, I am able,' she said, 'though you scare me.' 'Watch,' said I. 'Beloved,' I said, 'watch me scare you, though.' Said she: 'Able am I, son.'" They Might Be Giants I Palindrome I
  • "Plan your dive, dive your plan." — Scuba divers' mantra[4]
  • “Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It...comforts th’ afflicted [and] afflicts th’ comfortable..." -- Finley Peter Dunne[5]


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

See also[edit]


  • Corbett, Edward P.J. Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. Oxford University Press, New York, 1971.
  1. ^ Fahnestock, Jeanne. Rhetorical Figures in Science. Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 123-134.
  2. ^ "The Court Jester". American Film Institute. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  3. ^ Truss, Lynne (24 October 2005). Eats Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Paperback ed.). Profile Books. p. 20. ISBN 978-1861976772.
  4. ^ "Plan your dive, dive your plan" (PDF). Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Today in Media History: Mr. Dooley: 'The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable'". Poynter. 2014-10-07. Retrieved 2019-05-03.

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