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

The hypothesis has been contentious and hard to test. Mitch Leslie, Science | AAAS, "Talk to the hand. Scientists try to debunk idea that finger length can reveal personality and health," 6 June 2019 The Soviet Union of the series, depicted with harrowing gravity and fascinatingly detailed production design, is nothing like the ever-contentious and self-questioning United States of America, in the Trump era or ever. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Chernobyl: Devastating Indictment of Socialism, Not Trumpism," 5 June 2019 The group, made up of white, black, Asian and Latina women, doesn’t always talk about books as contentious as this one, but race isn’t an unusual topic to focus on. Dallas News, "Why two Dallas women started a female-only book club about diversity," 5 June 2019 Two major democracies — India and Nigeria — will face contentious, possibly course-changing elections. Jen Kirby, Vox, "The 7 biggest foreign news stories to watch in 2019, from Brexit to North Korea," 24 Dec. 2018 Image: Alex Castro / The Verge Election Day is tomorrow, November 6th, in the United States, and the 2018 midterm elections are likely going to be some of the most contentious elections in recent history. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Everything you need to know to get out and vote," 5 Nov. 2018 The emotional, dissonant scene reflected the increasingly divided nation that Trump leads, one gripped by a week of political violence and hate and hurtling toward contentious midterm elections that could alter the path of a presidency. Zeke Miller, The Seattle Times, "Trumps pay tribute at synagogue where 11 were fatally shot," 31 Oct. 2018 Besides next week’s uncertain reports, the prospect of a trade war with China and contentious midterm elections will likely add to nerves rather than settle them. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "Tech Coming Back to Near-Earth Orbit," 27 Oct. 2018 The polls — for which more than 55 million Turkish voters are registered — will also finalize Turkey’s transition to an executive presidency, which was narrowly approved in a contentious election last year. Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, "Turkish voters cast ballots in election seen as a test for Erdogan," 24 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

11 Jun 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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