late 14c., "placed or situated on the other side of (something)," from Old French opposite, oposite "opposite, contrary" (13c.), from Latin oppositus "standing against, opposed, opposite," past participle of opponere "set against," from assimilated form of ob "in front of, in the way of" (see ob-) + ponere "to put, set, place" (see position (n.)).
The meaning "contrary in character, of a totally different nature" is from 1570s. As a noun from late 14c., "the opposite side of" (a place, the body, etc.), "an opposite position or condition." From early 15c. as "that which is opposite in character or quality;" also "an opponent." As a preposition from 1758. As an adverb from 1817. Related: Oppositely.
by 1931, in reference to the page of a newspaper opposite the editorial page, usually devoted to personal opinion columns and criticism. The thing itself dates to 1921 at the New York "World" and was the brainchild of editor Herbert Bayard Swope, whose op-ed pages launched the celebrity of many of the Algonquin Round Table writers.
"pertaining to the people dwelling on the opposite side of the earth," 1860, from antoeci (plural) "people dwelling on the opposite side of the earth" (1620s), a Latinized form of Greek antoikoi, literally "dwellers opposite," from anti "opposite" (see anti-) + oikein "to dwell" (from PIE root *weik- (1) "clan").
late 14c., in astronomy, "imaginary point of the celestial sphere vertically opposite to the zenith of the sun; the inferior pole of the horizon," from Medieval Latin nadir, from Arabic nazir "opposite to," in nazir as-samt, literally "opposite direction," from nazir "opposite" + as-samt "road, path" (see zenith). Transferred sense of "lowest point" of anything is recorded by 1793.
late 14c., "persons who dwell on the opposite side of the globe;" from 1540s as "country or region on the opposite side of the earth," from Latin antipodes "those who dwell on the opposite side of the earth," from Greek antipodes, plural of antipous "with feet opposite (ours)," from anti "opposite" (see anti-) + pous "foot" (from PIE root *ped- "foot").
Yonde in Ethiopia ben the Antipodes, men that haue theyr fete ayenst our fete. [Bartholomew Glanville, "De proprietatibus rerum," c. 1240, translated by John of Trevisa c. 1398]
Belief in them could be counted as a heresy in medieval Europe, when the orthodox supposition was that the whole of the earth was a flat surface. Not to be confused with antiscii "those who live on the same meridian on opposite side of the equator," whose shadows fall at noon in the opposite direction, from Greek anti- + skia "shadow." Also see antoecian. Related: Antipodist.
mid-14c., "opposite, opposed, at the opposite point or in the opposite direction; extremely unlike, most unlike," from Anglo-French contrarie, Old French contrarie, and directly from Latin contrarius "opposite, opposed; contrary, reverse," from contra "against" (see contra). Meaning "given to contradiction, perverse, intractable" is from late 14c.; sense of "adverse, unfavorable" is from late 14c. Related: Contrarily.
As a noun from late 13c., "one of a pair of characters, propositions, terms, etc., the most different possible within the same class." The phrase on the contrary "in precise or extreme opposition to what has been said" is attested from c. 1400 as in the contrary.
If we take the statement All men are mortal, its contrary is Not all men are mortal, its converse is All mortal beings are men, & its opposite is No men are mortal. The contrary, however, does not exclude the opposite, but includes it as its most extreme form. Thus This is white has only one opposite, This is black, but many contraries, as This is not white, This is coloured, This is dirty, This is black; & whether the last form is called the contrary, or more emphatically the opposite, is usually indifferent. But to apply the opposite to a mere contrary (e.g. to I did not hit him in relation to I hit him, which has no opposite), or to the converse (e.g. to He hit me in relation to I hit him, to which it is neither contrary nor opposite), is a looseness that may easily result in misunderstanding; the temptation to go wrong is intelligible when it is remembered that with certain types of sentence (A exceeds B) the converse & the opposite are identical (B exceeds A). [Fowler]