noun con·trary \ˈkän-ˌtrer-ē, -ˌtre-rē\
plural con·trar·ies

Definition of CONTRARY

:  a fact or condition incompatible with another :  opposite —usually used with the
:  one of a pair of opposites
a :  a proposition so related to another that though both may be false they cannot both be true — compare subcontrary
b :  either of two terms (as good and evil) that cannot both be affirmed of the same subject
by contraries
obsolete :  in a manner opposite to what is logical or expected
on the contrary
:  just the opposite
to the contrary
:  on the contrary

Examples of CONTRARY

  1. <the admonition that we should not return hate with hate, but rather with its contrary—love>
  2. As kiss-and-tell books go, Opening Arguments by Jeffrey Toobin has few, if any, deep and sensuous secrets to reveal—this despite many news stories to the —contrary. —Nina Totenberg, New York Times Book Review, March 31, 1991

Origin of CONTRARY

Middle English contrarie, from Anglo-French contraire, contrairie, from Medieval Latin contrarius, from Latin, adjective, opposite, adverse, from contra opposite
First Known Use: 13th century


adjective con·trary \ˈkän-ˌtrer-ē, -ˌtre-rē, 4 often kən-ˈtrer-ē\

: exactly opposite to something else : entirely different from something else

: against or opposed to something

: not favorable or helpful

Full Definition of CONTRARY

:  being so different as to be at opposite extremes :  opposite <come to the contrary conclusion> <went off in contrary directions>; also :  being opposite to or in conflict with each other <contrary viewpoints>
:  being not in conformity with what is usual or expected <actions contrary to company policy> <contrary evidence>
:  unfavorable —used of wind or weather
:  temperamentally unwilling to accept control or advice
con·trari·ly \-ˌtrer-ə-lē, -ˈtrer-\ adverb
con·trari·ness \-ˌtrer-ē-nəs, -ˈtrer-\ noun

Examples of CONTRARY

  1. The sisters gave contrary answers: one said yes and one said no.
  2. We had contrary opinions on the issue.
  3. Without contrary evidence, the jury will find her guilty.
  4. The boat sailed against a contrary wind.
  5. Contrary weather impeded the rescue efforts.
  6. Kicking Wolf was a very contrary man—he did as he pleased. —Larry McMurtry, Dead Man's Walk, 1995

Origin of CONTRARY

(see 1contrary)
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of CONTRARY

contrary, perverse, restive, balky, wayward mean inclined to resist authority or control. contrary implies a temperamental unwillingness to accept orders or advice <a contrary child>. perverse may imply wrongheaded, determined, or cranky opposition to what is reasonable or normal <a perverse, intractable critic>. restive suggests unwillingness or inability to submit to discipline or follow orders <tired soldiers growing restive>. balky suggests a refusing to proceed in a desired direction or course of action <a balky witness>. wayward suggests strong-willed capriciousness and irregularity in behavior <a school for wayward youths>.
synonyms see in addition opposite


adverb con·trary \ˈkän-ˌtrer-ē, -ˌtre-rē, also kən-ˈtrer-ē\

Definition of CONTRARY

Origin of CONTRARY

(see 1contrary)
First Known Use: 15th century


Next Word in the Dictionary: contrary–mindedPrevious Word in the Dictionary: contrarotationAll Words Near: contrary
May 29, 2015
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unmistakable, remarkable, or voluptuous
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