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 law enacted Tuesday does not include some of the more contentious elements of that original bill, including a provision that would have allowed schools to verify a student's birth gender via a genital inspection. Meredith Deliso, ABC News, 1 June 2021 The observers have been a cornerstone of American voting for years, viewed as a watchdog for election officials, but their role has grown increasingly contentious, especially in Texas. Nick Corasaniti, New York Times, 29 May 2021 The observers have been a cornerstone of American voting for years, viewed as a watchdog for election officials, but their role has grown increasingly contentious, especially in Texas. BostonGlobe.com, 29 May 2021 But the measure that enjoys broad bipartisan support became contentious because a handful of Republican senators sought amendments for issues such as better securing the southern border. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, 28 May 2021 The election fight could be costly and contentious. Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle, 28 May 2021 Parents and parishioners sympathetic to Swink pushed back with their own story and a petition, noting the initial conversation between the students had become contentious with the girls using a racial slur against the boy, who is of mixed race. Washington Post, 28 May 2021 Columnist Robin Abcarian asks: What is so terrifying to them about the reassessment of American history, known as critical race theory? — Democracy can be contentious, loud and messy. Los Angeles Times, 27 May 2021 This battle can be as contentious as the custody battle. Patricia Fersch, Forbes, 20 May 2021

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

Middle English contenciose "quarrelsome," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French contencieux "subject to disagreement," borrowed from Latin contentiōsus "persistent, obstinate, argumentative, quarrelsome," from contentiō "exertion, competition, contention" + -ōsus -ous

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Time Traveler for contentious

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

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Last Updated

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contentious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contentious. Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

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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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