contentious

adjective
con·​ten·​tious | \ kən-ˈten(t)-shəs How to pronounce contentious (audio) \

Definition of contentious

1 : likely to cause disagreement or argument a contentious issue
2 : exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes a man of a most contentious nature

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Other Words from contentious

contentiously adverb
contentiousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for contentious

belligerent, bellicose, pugnacious, quarrelsome, contentious mean having an aggressive or fighting attitude. belligerent often implies being actually at war or engaged in hostilities. belligerent nations bellicose suggests a disposition to fight. a drunk in a bellicose mood pugnacious suggests a disposition that takes pleasure in personal combat. a pugnacious gangster quarrelsome stresses an ill-natured readiness to fight without good cause. the heat made us all quarrelsome contentious implies perverse and irritating fondness for arguing and quarreling. wearied by his contentious disposition

Examples of contentious in a Sentence

In the perpetual skirmish between science and religion, biological evolution is a contentious battle ground. — Barry A. Palevitz, Skeptical Inquirer, July/August 1999 Creator Jim Davis had spent two years fine-tuning the contentious relationship between the grouchy cat, his milquetoast owner, Jon (Davis' pen-and-ink alter ego), and befuddled dog Odie—in a strip he'd thought would be called Jon. — Beth Johnson, Entertainment Weekly, 19 June 1998 Historians, admittedly a contentious lot, have failed even to agree on what to call King Philip's War. — Jill Lepore, The Name of War, 1998 My mental attitude when drinking is both contentious and malicious, and while in this mood and state I was the author of statements which I know to be wholly unfounded. — Theodore Dreiser, The Titan, 1914 After a contentious debate, members of the committee finally voted to approve the funding. The dispute involves one of the region's most contentious leaders.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Kuchar had to cope with a contentious moment in his 2-up victory over Sergio Garcia, two players in the news this year for all the wrong reasons. Doug Ferguson, The Seattle Times, "Woods meets his match in Lucas Bjerregaard at Match Play," 31 Mar. 2019 Whatever happens at tonight’s ceremony, the 91st Oscars will surely go down as one of the messiest and most contentious in history. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why the 2019 Oscars Don't Have a Host—And the Disaster That Ensued Last Time It Happened," 24 Feb. 2019 Buying the RSNs could also put Amazon into some contentious negotiations with Comcast and other cable TV companies. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Amazon trying to buy 22 cable TV sports channels, including Yankees network," 20 Nov. 2018 In the course of history, mankind has been faced with a handful of debates so contentious as to risk tearing apart the fabric of society. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "It's a Sofa, Not a Couch," 9 Mar. 2019 Trump was greeted at the palace by British Prime Minster Theresa May, whose government has been rocked by resignations from ongoing tumult over Brexit, the nation’s contentious vote to leave the European Union. BostonGlobe.com, "Trumps attend black-tie gala at UK’s Blenheim Palace," 12 July 2018 The contentious 5-4 vote overturned a series of lower-court rulings, rubber-stamping restrictions on travel from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela and North Korea. Ronald J. Hansen, azcentral, "With travel ban upheld, Arizona Muslims ask: Is religious freedom only for some?," 26 June 2018 If none emerges, then more Republicans are expected to sign on to a discharge petition that would force a series of contentious immigration votes on the House floor as early as June 25. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "There's more to primary day than California," 4 June 2018 The selections are expected to receive bipartisan support, though more contentious votes are expected in coming weeks. Lisa Mascaro, The Seattle Times, "Congress faces immigration showdown, tension on tariffs," 3 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contentious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of contentious

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for contentious

see contention

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Last Updated

16 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for contentious

The first known use of contentious was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for contentious

contentious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of contentious

: likely to cause people to argue or disagree
: involving a lot of arguing
: likely or willing to argue

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