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Antiphrasis is the rhetorical device of saying the opposite of what is actually meant.[1]

That the opposite is meant is intended to be obvious.[1]

Some authors treat antiphrasis as merely a synonym for irony.

Antiphrasis as euphemism[edit]

Some euphemisms are antiphrases, such as "Eumenides" 'the gracious ones' to mean the Erinyes, deities of vengeance.


  • "Take your time, we've got all day", meaning "hurry up, we don't have all day".
  • "Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly" appears to be an invitation, but is in fact a threat.
  • "Tell me about it", in the sense of "don't bother, I already know".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bernard Dupriez, tr. Albert W. Halsall, A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z, ISBN 0802068030, p. 49–50