Antimetabole (an-tee-meh-TA-boe-lee): Figure of emphasis in which the words in one phrase or clause are replicated, exactly or closely, in reverse grammatical order in the next phrase or clause; an inverted order of repeated words in adjacent phrases or clauses (A-B, B-A).

Ex #1: In the U.S., all crimes are illegalities but not all illegalities are crimes." To wit: It is not a federal crime for an immigrant to be in the U.S. illegally. - M.E.

Ex #2: "The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence." -- Carl Sagan

Ex #3: "Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men."  -- Luther, Ninety-Five Theses

Ex #4: Not all readers become leaders. But all leaders must be readers -- Harry S. Truman, Post-Presidential Papers

Ex #5: "I don't throw darts at balloons. I throw balloons at darts." - Joe Montana (on his throwing velocity)

Ex #6: "We gotta play with emotion but not let emotion play with us." - Coach Chip Kelly, (2011 University of Oregon vs. Arizona State University football game halftime remarks)

Ex #7: "We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." -- Benjamin Franklin

Ex #8: "Those who can't do -- teach; and those who can't teach -- do." -- delivered by Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and The City, Episode "Frenemies")

Ex #9: "The richer they get, the tighter they become; and the tighter they become, the richer they get." -- Anonymous

Ex #10: "Man is not a creature of circumstancesCircumstances are the creatures of men." -- Benjamin Disraeli

Ex #11: "There is considerable irony in the Federal Communications Commission classifying the Internet as an information service and not as a communications service insofar as while that may have been a gambit to relieve ISPs of telephone-era regulation, the value of the Internet is ever more the bits it carries, not the carriage of those bits." -- Dan Geer, USA Black Hat 2014 Keynote

Ex #12: "Intellectuals must never be given power because they want people to get down on their knees and learn to love what they really hate and hate what they really love." -- Eric Hoffer

Ex #13: "When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you." -- Frederick Nietzsche

Ex #14: "This sad Republican fate is deserved...This is what Republicans get for devaluing the calling of public service. When you have contempt for politics, you often get a politics worthy of contempt." -- Michael Gerson

Ex #15: "The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally" [on presidential candidate Donald Trump]. -- Salena Zito

Ex #16: "Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates

Ex #17:  "Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile." -- Mary Beard

Ex #18:  "The Framers [charged the] Supreme Court...the task, not of keeping the Constitution in tune with the times but...of keeping the times in tune with the Constitution."  -- Walter Berns on this rhetorical device:

Further Examples

"Any psychiatrist will tell you, if you suppress memories they come back with fury. You must face them. Even if you cannot articulate them, we must face them. And memories are many and varied: memories of those who died with weapons in their hands; and those who died with prayers on their lips. And let no one say that some were heroes and others martyrs. In those times the heroes were martyrs and the martyrs were heroes. It was heroic for a friend to give his piece of bread to his friend. It was heroic to go around on Shabbat and simply say to his or her friends: 'It's Shabbat, today.' It was heroic to have faith; It was heroic to be human."

-- Elie Wiesel, Remarks at the New Holocaust Museum Dedication

"After contemplation, I conclude that this award, which I receive on behalf of [the civil rights] movement, is a profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time -- the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Address

"As we've heard this morning, development, security, and human rights must go hand in hand. There can be no security without development and no development without security; and neither can be sustained in the longer term without it being rooted in the rule of law and respect for human rights."

-- Kofi Annan, Final Address to the United Nations General Assembly

"What I am claiming here is not that television is entertaining but that it has made entertainment itself the natural format for the representation of all experience. Our television set keeps us in constant communion with the world, but it does so with a face whose smiling countenance is unalterable. The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter, but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining -- which is another issue altogether. To say it still another way: Entertainment is the supra-ideology of all discourse on television. No matter what is depicted, or from what point of view, the overarching presumption is that it is there for our amusement and pleasure."

-- delivered by Jeff Riggenbach, from the audio book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman.


"We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are."

-- Jeff Flake, Retirement from the U.S. Senate Announcement Address

"The general fact is simple: Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits."

-- delivered by Fred Williams, from the audio book Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

"It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and for the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss womenís rights as separate from human rights. If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are womenís rights and womenís rights are human rights once and for all."

-- Hillary Rodham Clinton, Women's Rights Are Human Rights

"But we must remember a crucial fact: East and West do not mistrust each other because we're armed; we're armed because we mistrust each other."

-- Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Brandenburg Gage

"Jesus Christ came to pay a debt he did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay.'"

-- Greg Laurie, Harvest Christian Fellowship

"All this means that the people of any country have the right, and should have the power by constitutional action, by free unfettered elections, with secret ballot, to choose or change the character or form of government under which they dwell; that freedom of speech and thought should reign; that courts of justice, independent of the executive, unbiased by any party, should administer laws which have received the broad assent of large majorities or are consecrated by time and custom. Here are the title deeds of freedom which should lie in every cottage home. Here is the message of the British and American peoples to mankind: Let us preach what we practice -- let us practice what we preach."

-- Winston Churchill, The Sinews of Peace

"1999 and the illusion continues. In the name of freedom, many have used art as a means to destroy the human mind. As an excuse to continue we hear, "Art reflects society." In the name of recreation these people, in fact, are re-creating themselves in their own images; society then reflects art."

-- Prince, One Song

"Tonight, we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger; and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."

-- George W. Bush, 9-20-01 Address to Congress and the Nation

"The world faces a very different Russia than it did in 1991. Like all countries, Russia also faces a very different world." It's defining feature is globalization: the tearing down of boundaries between people, nations, and cultures -- so that what happens anywhere can have an impact everywhere.

-- William Jefferson Clinton, Address to the Russian Duma

"I have a message for our youth. I challenge them to put hope in their brains and not dope in their veins. I told them that like Jesus, I, too, was born in the slum. But just because you're born in the slum does not mean the slum is born in you, and you can rise above it if your mind is made up."

-- Jesse Jackson, 1984 Democratic National Convention Address

"The four verities of government are these: most important ideas are unappealing; most appealing ideas are unimportant; not every problem has a good solution; every solution comes with side effects."

-- Dan Geer, 2014 Black Hat Conference Keynote Address


"I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

-- John F. Kennedy, Presidential Inaugural Address

"For a nuclear disaster, spread by winds and water and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war -- or war will put an end to mankind.

-- John F. Kennedy, 1961 Address to the United Nations General Assembly


"In an age when both sides have come to possess enough nuclear power to destroy the human race several times over, the world of communism and the world of free choice have been caught up in a vicious circle of conflicting ideology and interest. Each increase of tension has produced an increase of arms; each increase of arms has produced an increase of tension."

-- John F. Kennedy, Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Address to the Nation

"It's been my privilege to go to scores of universities and colleges. And I have seen professors; I've seen students; I've seen some that I might classify as an intellectual come -- but they have to come as "children." Jesus said that. We say to our children 'Be like grownups.' But Jesus said to us grownups, 'Be like children.' Come as a little child, not as a Doctor of Philosophy, not as a Doctor of Law. But come as a simple human being -- to the Cross. And your life can be changed."

-- Billy Graham, 1962 Address at The Harvard Law School Forum

Alexa Woods: "Seven seasons on the ice and I've never seen a gun save someone's life."

Adele Rousseau: "I don't plan on using it."

Alexa Woods: "Then why bring it?"

Adele Rousseau: "Same principle as a condom: I'd rather have one and not need it than need it and not have one."

-- delivered by Sanaa Lathan & Agathe De La Boulaye (Alien vs. Predator)

"There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they're at odds with the nation's Founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. In John Adams' words: 'We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.' 'Our Constitution,' he said, was made for a moral and religious people.' Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.

-- Mitt Romney, Faith in America Address, College Station, TX

"And I think what we have really to do in Israel is to change the electoral system, and to enable people who are secular and religious to coexist. And if the rabbis want to decide who is a Jew, the Jews have the right to decide who is a rabbi. And that's the way life should go."

-- Shimon Peres, Q&A session response following a 1999 address at the University of Texas at Tyler

"Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election. In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change."

-- Sarah Palin, 2008 Vice Presidential Nomination Acceptance

"I have learned that we can find good answers, even to difficult questions, if we always try to view the world through the eyes of others; if we respect other peopleís history, traditions, religion, and identity; and, if we donít always act on our first impulses, even when there is pressure to make a snap decision. Above all, it calls for truthfulness in our attitude towards others, and perhaps most importantly, it call for us to be honest with ourselves. That requires us not to describe lies as truth and truth as lies."

-- Angela Merkel, Harvard University Commencement Speech (as trans.)

Mission Commander Swanbeck: "...And Mr. Hunt, the next time you go on holiday please be good enough to let us know where you're going."

Top Secret Self-Destructing Message: "This message will self destruct in five seconds."

Ethan Hunt: "If I let you know where I'm going, then I won't be on holiday."

-- delivered by Anthony Hopkins and Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible II)

Rhetorical Figures in Sound

Online Speech Bank

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