Part of speech: noun
Origin: English, 17th century
Distinction made by contrasting the different qualities of two things.
Examples of Contradistinction in a sentence
"Porpoises and dolphins are so similar they sometimes require contradistinction to highlight the differences between them."
"On St-Jean Baptiste day, we ate poutine and other Quebec foods in contradistinction to our usual meals."
“Contradistinction” combines the Latin prefix “contra-” (meaning “against”) with the Middle English term “distinction” (originally “distinccioun”). “Distinction” itself is related to the Latin “distinguo,” meaning “I distinguish.”
Did you Know?
Most readers know the noun “contradiction,” which is built on similar ideas as “contradistinction.” However, the difference between the two is notable: In “contradiction,” one factor denies or refutes another. In “contradistinction,” two factors are presented together so the distinction between their differences may be discerned clearly. For example, seals and sea lions are easily confused animals. Only through contradistinction — considering the two species of animals together to identify how they differ from one another — is it possible to show one’s distinct differences from the other.