contentious

adjective
con·​ten·​tious | \ kən-ˈten(t)-shəs \

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

Our divorce was contentious and involved months of hearings. Jessica Wakeman, Glamour, "10 Divorced Women on How They Spent Their First Single Night," 28 Nov. 2018 Cameras and lenses This is the most expensive and contentious part of the whole shebang. Brent Rose, The Verge, "How to build a camera kit for adventure photography," 20 Nov. 2018 Issue 1 became politically contentious in the state. German Lopez, Vox, "Ohio votes against defelonizing drug possession with Issue 1," 7 Nov. 2018 Turin’s idea remains contentious — his experimental data have divided the interdisciplinary community of olfactory researchers. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "How Quantum Mechanics Lets Us See, Smell and Touch," 24 Oct. 2018 As the national dialogue regarding gun violence grows more contentious with each new tragedy, a singular question has grown increasingly urgent: Where are all of the guns coming from? Prince Shakur, Teen Vogue, "The Gun Show Loophole, Explained," 26 July 2018 The presence of Spain’s national police or civil guard officers in Catalonia is a highly contentious issue, even more so because of their role in the violent crackdown on the Oct. 1, 2017 secession vote. Aritz Parra, The Seattle Times, "Spanish government warns of security takeover in Catalonia," 11 Dec. 2018 There is no homogenous global community whose norms can be reflected in the decisions of a single body deciding contentious issues. Casey Newton, The Verge, "How Kevin Hart tweeted himself out of a job hosting the Oscars," 8 Dec. 2018 Seaton recalled a particularly contentious gang mediation between two groups near Central Park and Chicago avenues that came to a dramatic end. William Lee, chicagotribune.com, "Fierce gang leader went from death row to respected 'Mayor of Chicago Avenue'," 29 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

8 Jan 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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