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[op-uh-zish-uh n] /ˌɒp əˈzɪʃ ən/
the action of opposing, resisting, or combating.
antagonism or hostility.
a person or group of people opposing, criticizing, or protesting something, someone, or another group.
(sometimes initial capital letter) the major political party opposed to the party in power and seeking to replace it.
the act of placing opposite, or the state or position of being placed opposite.
the act of opposing, or the state of being opposed by way of comparison or contrast.
  1. the relation between two propositions that have the same subject and predicate, but which differ in quantity or quality, or in both.
  2. the relation between two propositions in virtue of which the truth or falsity of one of them determines the truth or falsity of the other.
Astronomy. the situation of two heavenly bodies when their longitudes or right ascensions differ by 180°:
The moon is in opposition to the sun when the earth is directly between them.
Astrology. the situation of two heavenly bodies or groups of heavenly bodies whose celestial longitudes differ by 180°, conducive to confrontation or revelation: an astrological aspect.
Electricity. the condition that exists when two waves of the same frequency are out of phase by one-half of a period.
  1. the relationship between any two alternative units within a linguistic system, especially between minimally distinct phonemes.
  2. the feature that constitutes the difference between two such units.
1350-1400; < Latin oppositiōn- (stem of oppositiō), equivalent to opposit(us) (see opposite) + -iōn- -ion; replacing Middle English opposicioun < Old French opposicion < Latin as above
Related forms
oppositional, oppositionary, adjective
oppositionless, adjective
nonopposition, noun
preopposition, noun
superopposition, noun
unoppositional, adjective
Can be confused
apposition, opposition. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for opposition
  • Soldiers gun down former comrades who defected to the opposition.
  • Survival of the fittest and evolving to better is in opposition to that basic law.
  • He began flexing his muscles, using isometric opposition and adding range of motion to stress them further.
  • Both universities offered an opposition to parliamentary government, which brought upon them the charge of disaffection.
  • Yet, the first opposition is the more fundamental of the two.
  • The last often comes into opposition with the others.
  • These trenchant observations, in a book which at once became popular, must have gone to swell the rising puritan opposition.
  • The real motives for the opposition are quite different.
  • The president exerts almost total control over the political system and has discouraged political opposition.
  • Their opposition was overcome by his energy in exploration and his success in obtaining supplies.
British Dictionary definitions for opposition


the act of opposing or the state of being opposed
hostility, unfriendliness, or antagonism
a person or group antagonistic or opposite in aims to another
  1. the opposition, a political party or group opposed to the ruling party or government
  2. (capital as part of a name, esp in Britain and other Commonwealth countries): Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition
  3. in opposition, (of a political party) opposing the government
a position facing or opposite another
the act of placing something facing or opposite something else
something that acts as an obstacle to some course or progress
  1. the position of an outer planet or the moon when it is in line or nearly in line with the earth as seen from the sun and is approximately at its nearest to the earth
  2. the position of two celestial bodies when they appear to be diametrically opposite each other on the celestial sphere Compare conjunction (sense 4)
(astrology) an exact aspect of 180° between two planets, etc, an orb of 8° being allowed See conjunction (sense 5), square (sense 10), trine (sense 1)
  1. the relation between propositions having the same subject and predicate but differing in quality, quantity, or both, as with all men are wicked; no men are wicked; some men are not wicked
  2. square of opposition, a diagram representing these relations with the contradictory propositions at diagonally opposite corners
(chess) the opposition, a relative position of the kings in the endgame such that the player who has the move is at a disadvantage: his opponent has the opposition
Derived Forms
oppositional, adjective
oppositionist, noun
oppositionless, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for opposition

late 14c., an astrological term for the situation of two heavenly bodies exactly across from one another in the heavens, from Old French oposicion (12c.) or directly from Latin oppositionem (nominative oppositio) "act of opposing, a placing against," noun of action from past participle stem of opponere "set against" (see opponent). Meaning "that which is opposite something else" is from 1540s; meaning "contrast, antagonism" first attested 1580s; sense of "political party opposed to the one in power" is from 1704. Related: Oppositional.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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opposition in Science
  1. A characteristic movement of the primate thumb, in which the pad of the thumb can be placed in contact with the pads of the fingers of the same hand.

  2. The position of two celestial bodies when their celestial longitude differs by 180°, especially a configuration in which Earth lies on a straight line between the Sun and a superior planet or the Moon. Planets in this position rise as the Sun sets and are visible all night long, reaching their highest point in the sky at midnight; the Moon in this position is full. Compare conjunction. See more at elongation.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for opposition

in astronomy, the circumstance in which two celestial bodies appear in opposite directions in the sky. The Moon, when full, is said to be in opposition to the Sun; the Earth is then approximately between them. A superior planet (one with an orbit farther from the Sun than Earth's) is in opposition when Earth passes between it and the Sun. The opposition of a planet is a good time to observe it, because the planet is then at its nearest point to the Earth and in its full phase. The planets Venus and Mercury, whose orbits are smaller than Earth's, can never be in opposition to the Sun.

Learn more about opposition with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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