Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

continual

play
adjective con·tin·u·al \kən-ˈtin-yü-əl, -yəl\

Simple Definition of continual

  • : happening without interruption : not stopping or ending

  • : happening again and again within short periods of time

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of continual

  1. 1 :  continuing indefinitely in time without interruption <continual fear>

  2. 2 :  recurring in steady usually rapid succession <a history of continual invasions>

continually

adverb

Examples of continual in a sentence

  1. This week we experienced days of continual sunshine.

  2. The country has been in a continual state of war since it began fighting for its independence.

  3. The continual interruptions by the student were annoying the teacher.



Did You Know?

Since the mid-19th century, many grammarians have drawn a distinction between continual and continuous. Continual should only mean "occurring at regular intervals," they insist, whereas continuous should be used to mean "continuing without interruption." This distinction overlooks the fact that continual is the older word and was used with both meanings for centuries before continuous appeared on the scene. The prescribed sense of continuous became established only in the 19th century, and it never succeeded in completely driving out the equivalent sense of continual. Today, continual is the more likely of the two to mean "recurring," but it also continues to be used, as it has been since the 14th century, with the meaning "continuing without interruption."

Origin and Etymology of continual

Middle English, from Anglo-French continuel, from Latin continuus continuous


First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of continual

continual, continuous, constant, incessant, perpetual, perennial mean characterized by continued occurrence or recurrence. continual often implies a close prolonged succession or recurrence <continual showers the whole weekend>. continuous usually implies an uninterrupted flow or spatial extension <football's oldest continuous rivalry>. constant implies uniform or persistent occurrence or recurrence <lived in constant pain>. incessant implies ceaseless or uninterrupted activity <annoyed by the incessant quarreling>. perpetual suggests unfailing repetition or lasting duration <a land of perpetual snowfall>. perennial implies enduring existence often through constant renewal <a perennial source of controversy>.

CONTINUAL Defined for Kids

continual

play
adjective con·tin·u·al \kən-ˈtin-yə-wəl\

Definition of continual for Students

  1. 1 :  going on or lasting without stop <On every side there rose a continual chattering. — Robert Lawson, Rabbit Hill>

  2. 2 :  occurring again and again within short periods of time <Your continual interruptions are annoying.>

continually

adverb




Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up continual? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a simplified speech bridging languages

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

confounded-person

Which is a synonym of indolent?

lazy frenetic philistine melancholy
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ