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in astronomy, alignment of two celestial bodies on opposite sides of the sky as viewed from earth. Opposition of the moon or planets is often determined in reference to the sun. Only the superior planets, whose orbits lie outside that of the earth, can be in opposition to the sun. When a planet is in opposition to the sun, its elongationelongation,
in astronomy, the angular distance between two points in the sky as measured from a third point. The elongation of a planet is usually measured as the angular distance from the sun to the planet as measured from the earth.
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 is 180°, it exhibits retrograde motionretrograde motion,
in astronomy, real or apparent movement of a planet, dwarf planet, moon, asteroid, or comet from east to west relative to the fixed stars. The most common direction of motion in the solar system, both for orbital revolution and axial rotation, is from west to
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, and its phasephase,
in astronomy, the measure of how much of the illuminated surface of a planet or satellite can be seen from a point at a distance from that body; the term is most often used to describe the moon as seen from the earth.
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 is full. This is a good time to observe a planet, since it rises when the sun sets and is visible throughout the night, setting as the sun rises.


(op-ŏ-zish -ŏn) The moment at which a body in the Solar System has a celestial longitude differing from that of the Sun by 180°, so that it lies opposite the Sun in the sky and crosses the meridian at about midnight (see elongation). The term also applies to the alignment of the two bodies at this moment. Although the inferior planets cannot come to opposition, it is the most favorable time for observation of the other planets because they are then observable throughout the night and are near their closest point for that apparition. See also synodic period.


The state or position of being placed opposite another or of lying in corresponding positions from an intervening space or object.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

An opposition is an aspect of 180° between two points—e.g., between two planets—in an astrological chart. An opposition is a major aspect, regarded as challenging and inharmonious. It is sometimes referred to as the aspect of separation. It is difficult, but not as difficult as a square, partially because a 180° angle carries overtones of a polar relationship. By way of contrast to a square, which tends more to signify inner conflicts, an opposition indicates conflicts between internal and external factors. People with a Mars-Saturn opposition, for example, might regularly attract people into their lives whose impulsive, aggressive behavior (Mars) disrupts their sense of security (Saturn).


Gettings, Fred. Dictionary of Astrology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985.
Hand, Robert. Horoscope Symbols. Rockport, MA: Para Research, 1981.



in linguistics, one of the fundamental ideas of the structural-functional school, which views language as a system of mutually opposed elements.

Opposition is usually defined as the linguistically significant (fulfilling a semantic function) difference between units on the level of expression, corresponding to the difference between units on the level of content, and vice versa. In this sense it is possible to speak of the phonological opposition between the Russian phonemes ǀ k ǀ and ǀ r ǀ: the words kot, “tomcat,” and rot, “mouth,” differ not only in phonation but also in meaning. Similarly, one may speak of semantic opposition between the singular and the plural, since, for example, there is a difference in both content and form between the forms stola (genitive singular of stol, “table”) and stolov (genitive plural of stol).

The above definition permits the concept of opposition to be used to express the relations between different linguistic units (different invariants)—oppositional relations—and the relations between phonetically or semantically differing variants of one and the same linguistic unit—nonoppositional relations. Thus, the voiceless back consonants [k] and [x], the first of which is a stop and the second a fricative, are different phonemes in the Russian language: for example, kor’, “measles,” and khor’, “polecat.” On the other hand, the corresponding voiced consonants [g] and [y], which differ phonetically in the same way as [k] and [x], are variants of the same phoneme, since the substitution of one for the other does not result in a change in meaning: bo[γ]atyi is merely a less common pronunciation of bogatyi, “rich.”

Some linguists make a distinction between the concept of opposition (a specific type of paradigmatic relation) and the concept of contrast (that is, a type of syntagmatic relation). The paradigmatic definition of opposed units, which is associated with opposition, consists in establishing those phonetic or semantic features that distinguish the opposed units from each other. Thus, the idea of opposition presupposes the separability of contrasted units into shared elements (“grounds for comparison”) and different elements—distinctive features.

Opposition forms the central concept in the phonological teachings of the Prague school of linguistics, which introduced, in particular, the concept of the neutralization of opposition. As regards phonology, neutralization is defined as the impossibility of the existence, in certain contexts, of opposition between phonemes that are opposed in other positions. For example, in Russian, the opposition between voiceless and voiced consonants, which is active when these consonants are followed by vowels, is neutralized at the end of a word, where voiced consonants are devoiced. An example of the neutralization of semantic opposition is the removal of the opposition between perfective and imperfective verbs when there is negation. For example, ia dol-zhen pozvonit’ bratu, “I must call my brother,” as opposed to mne ne nuzhno zvonit’ bratu, “I don’t need to call my brother.” In this case, the perfective verb pozvonit’, “to call,” is replaced by its imperfective counterpart zvonit’ in the context of negation.

There exists a variety of opinions concerning the nature of opposition; for example, there is disagreement as to whether phonetic and semantic, or significant, oppositions are completely analogous. The question of the obligatory binary nature of opposition is highly controversial. Several linguists have sought to reduce all the types of opposition to the most common (and, undoubtedly, for them the most interesting) type of binomial opposition, in which each member has a a single predictable opposing member. (For example, the phonetic feature of voice-lessness does not exist without voice, or the grammatical meaning of the perfective aspect without the imperfective aspect.) It is obvious that such a specific type of relationship can link only elementary units belonging to a category consisting of only two members. Thus, in a given interpretation, the meaningful factor in opposition is transferred from the phoneme, lexeme, and so on, to the smallest possible component of a corresponding unit: a distinctive phonetic or semantic feature.


Trubetskoi, N. S. Osnovy fonologii. Moscow, 1960. Chapters 1, 3–5.
Martinet, A. “Osnovy obshchei lingvistiki.” Novoe v lingvistike, fasc. 3. Moscow, 1963.
Bulygina, T. V. “Prazhskaia lingvisticheskaia shkola.” In the collection Osnovnye napravleniia strukturalizma. Moscow, 1964.
Bulygina, T. V. “Grammaticheskie oppozitsii.” In Issledovaniiapo obshchei teorii grammatiki. Moscow, 1968.
Apresian, Iu. D. Idei i metody sovremennoi strukturnoi lingvistiki. Moscow, 1966.
Obshchee iazykoznanie: Vnutrenniaia struktura iazyka. Moscow, 1972. Pages 172–89.
Cantinau, J. “Signifikativnye oppozitsii.” In the collection Printsipy tipologicheskogo analiza iazykov razlichnogo stroia. Moscow, 1972.




(1) Counteraction, resistance, or juxtaposition of one’s views or one’s policy to another policy or other views.

(2) A party or a group that acts contrary to the opinion of the majority or the dominant opinion. In the capitalist countries, the parliamentary opposition consists of parliamentary parties or groups that do not participate in the formation of the government and that come out against government policy on a number of issues. The intraparty opposition is made up of groupings that come out against certain fundamental policy issues of a party and its leading bodies.

Before the triumph of the socialist revolution and during the period of socialist construction, the objective reason for the appearance of opposition in the Communist Party was the heterogeneity of the social structure of society and of the proletariat itself. The ranks of the party include nonproletarian and petit bourgeois elements, as well as persons who are influenced by or who fall under the influence of nonproletarian classes and strata (anti-Marxist and revisionist currents, respectively) and who objectively become purveyors of bourgeois influence to the proletariat and its party. In the CPSU opportunist groupings developed, opposing the Leninist line with their own, which expressed chiefly the interests and attitudes of the petit bourgeois classes and strata (the Otzovists, Ultimatumists, “Left Communists,” Trotskyites, the Democratic Centralist group, the Workers’ Opposition, the New Opposition, and the Right Deviation in the ACP [Bolshevik]). After the triumph of socialism and the achievement of class homogeneity in society, the objective reasons for the appearance of an opposition in Communist parties cease to exist.


The situation of two celestial bodies having either celestial longitudes or sidereal hour angles differing by 180°; the term is usually used only in relation to the position of a superior planet or the moon with reference to the sun.
The condition in which the phase difference between two periodic quantities having the same frequency is 180°, corresponding to one half-cycle.


a. a political party or group opposed to the ruling party or government
b. in opposition (of a political party) opposing the government
2. Astronomy
a. 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
b. the position of two celestial bodies when they appear to be diametrically opposite each other on the celestial sphere
3. Astrology an exact aspect of 180? between two planets, etc., an orb of 8? being allowed
4. Logic
a. 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
b. square of opposition a diagram representing these relations with the contradictory propositions at diagonally opposite corners
5. the opposition Chess a relative position of the kings in the endgame such that the player who has the move is at a disadvantage