[LMB] anti- and ante-, was CoC Chapter 27 -- Shakespeare -- Sonnet 130[1]

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Sun Sep 13 12:42:49 BST 2015

> From: Walter S Bushell proto at panix.com

> > On Sep 12, 2015, at 10:16, Gwynne Powell <gwynnepowell at hotmail.com>
> > I don't really see it as an anti-climax

> Ante climax. Different, otherwise we could power our spaceships
> with pasta and anti pasta.

Gwynne: I hang my head in shame.

John: Eh? No head-hanging needed, Gwynne. I've no idea what the original
context was, but *anti-climax* is a standard term, and *ante-climax*,
SFAIK, does not exist (and if it did might mean 'foreplay').

With apologies to those whom I am teaching to suck eggs :

*anti-*, from Gk 'anti', meaning (quoth the OED) 'opposite, against, in
exchange, instead, representing, rivalling, simulating', implies opposition
; hence anti-climax, 1. in rhetoric 'a sentence in which the last part
expresses something lower than the first' ; the addition of  a particular
which, instead of heightening the effect, suddenly lowers it or makes it
ludicrous : and thus 2. by extension, a descent or fall in contrast to a
previous rise. To which I'd add, in literary usage, wilful bathos, a
deliberate deflation where inflation might be expected. Shaggy-dog stories
formally end in anti-climax.

*ante-*, from Latin 'ante-', meaning, of position, before, in front of, and
of time, preceding : thus ante-chamber, ante meridian, antepenultimate.

English always observes the distinction, but just to confuse matters,
although modern Italian does use 'ante', as in *antecedente*, antecedent,
and *anteguerra*, pre-war, and also uses *anti-*, as a negative, it does
-not- always maintain the distinction, so that hors-d'oeuvres are indeed,
in Italian, *antipasti*, though the meaning would seem to call for

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)

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