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contra- +‎ distinction


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌkɒntɹədɪˈstɪŋkʃn̩/
    • (file)
  • Hyphenation: con‧tra‧dis‧tinc‧tion


contradistinction (plural contradistinctions)

  1. Distinction by contrast; the provision of one example against which another example may be defined.
    We used hamburgers and soda in contradistinction to healthy food.
    • 1911, Ambrose Bierce, “pantheism”, in The Devil’s Dictionary, New York, N.Y., Washington, D.C.: The Neale Publishing Company, →OCLC:
      The doctrine that everything is God, in contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything.
    • 1944, Clifford W. Ashley, The Ashley Book of Knots, page 220:
      Captain John Smith gives the name Reef Knot in 1627. Dana gives the name Square Knot in 1841. Few sailors speak of Square Knot except in contradistinction to Granny Knot but it is the common shore name for the knot and is in good repute among sailors.
    • 1961 October, “The winter timetables of British Railways: Western Region”, in Trains Illustrated, page 591:
      It will be noted that on this service, in contradistinction to that from and to Bristol, extra trains are provided to cope with peak-hour conditions; [...].
  2. The quality of being contradistinctive.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Found normally in the phrase in contradistinction to, contradistinction focuses on the contrasting attributes of two similar concepts and may be more emphatic than distinction.

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