In White Fang, Jack London writes:

"But he was anything save a beauty. To antithesis was due his naming. He was preëminently unbeautiful."

How is "antithesis" used in the example provided and what does the sentence "To antithesis was due his naming" actually mean?

  • He was given his name ironically, antiphrastically. Jul 12 '20 at 15:06
  • @EdwinAshworth Comments are strictly speaking not intended for providing answers.
    – Tsundoku
    Aug 25 '20 at 9:14

In your question, you left out a previous sentence that is important for figuring out what this means:

This man was called "Beauty" by the other men of the fort.

What your sentence means is that it's an "ironic nickname", like when a two meter tall man is called "Shorty"; see TVtropes.

From Merriam-Webster:

Antithesis: a person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else.

So Jack London is saying that he was given his nickname because it's the direct opposite of one of his attributes.

EDIT: the OP asked about the grammaticality of the sentence. Here is my answer:

The sentence is inverted (which is grammatical, but somewhat uncommon); in the more usual word order, it says "His naming was due to antithesis." Here, "was due to" means "was because of", and "naming" means being given a name, so put in more everyday language, the sentence becomes "he was given his name because of antithesis."

  • Thanks for clarification for the sentence's meaning, however is the sentence itself gramatically correct? How exactly does "To antithesis" function within the sentence to convey said meaning?
    – TomDot Com
    Jul 12 '20 at 11:44

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