con·​ti·​nent | \ ˈkän-tə-nənt How to pronounce continent (audio) , ˈkänt-nənt \

Definition of continent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : one of the six or seven great divisions of land on the globe
b capitalized : the continent of Europe used with the
2 : mainland
3 archaic : container, confines
4 archaic : epitome


con·​ti·​nent | \ ˈkän-tə-nənt How to pronounce continent (audio) \

Definition of continent (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : exercising continence Most children are continent by the age of three.
2 obsolete : restrictive

Other Words from continent


continently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for continent

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of continent in a Sentence

Noun The book provides information on hotels in Britain and on the Continent. Europe and Asia are sometimes considered together to be one continent. Adjective Most children are continent by age three. a religious sect that expects its unmarried members to be completely celibate and its married adherents to maintain continent relationships
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun European economies are facing rising electricity and natural-gas prices after Russia slowly curtailed the natural-gas flows that the continent has come to depend on. Will Horner, WSJ, 4 Aug. 2022 Also: Africa’s Wild Year (8 p.m. Saturday, BBC America) tracks 365 days among the continent’s diverse wildlife). Rick Porter, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Aug. 2022 Its growth will continue to accelerate across TCL markets in Europe, the Indian sub-continent, Africa, North and Latin America throughout 2023 and 2024. Brent Lang, Variety, 3 Aug. 2022 Viking is expanding its Great Lakes offerings next year with three new Longitudinal World Cruises that will travel between the Great Lakes and the world's southernmost continent. Chelsey Lewis, Journal Sentinel, 3 Aug. 2022 Below the tattooed continent, Boyega has a tattoo of his parents' faces above his wrist. Milan Polk, Men's Health, 2 Aug. 2022 The two finalists competed in a best-of-five series Wednesday at the Marriott Inner Harbor for a $10,000 prize and bragging rights as the continent’s top word nerd. Hayes Gardner, Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2022 The European Association for Storage of Energy estimates that the continent will need 200 gigawatts of storage by 2030 -- more than four times its current storage capacity. Rebecca Cairns, CNN, 1 Aug. 2022 Europeans have a successful passenger rail system, as our passenger rail enthusiasts never tire of observing, but that continent is much smaller than the US, the population more dense, and few people in Europe take long train trips either. Ike Brannon, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The 30-year-old Salvadoran cyclist had been on a cross-continent bike journey with her partner, Jake, for almost a year. Jessica Diaz-hurtado,, 3 June 2022 Geoscientists say Earth will be home to one massive supercontinent about 200 million years from now; there are four prominent versions of this mega-continent. Stav Dimitropoulos, Popular Mechanics, 25 May 2022 The Asian Cup finals tournament staged in India is Kerr's first experience of being in the sub-continent. Asif Burhan, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2022 The pair coordinated a cross-continent entrepreneurial endeavor driven by art that has helped keep craftswomen employed and businesses afloat. Duante Beddingfield, Detroit Free Press, 25 Dec. 2021 In the space of five years, TV veteran Sameer Nair has built Applause Entertainment into a powerhouse supplier of Indian content that is being hungrily consumed by the sub-continent’s streaming platforms. Patrick Frater, Variety, 23 Nov. 2021 IHS Markit ranked India the third most attractive destination for international investment in solar energy last month, while Ernst & Young considers the sub-continent the primary destination for solar funding. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 3 Nov. 2021 After officially launching over the spring following nearly a year of beta testing, ScreenHits TV is in the midst of a global rollout throughout Europe, the Indian sub-continent and Latin and North America. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 7 Oct. 2021 The Marmaray, a cross-continent metro line that passes under the Bosphorus Strait, connects the metro system on the European and Asian sides of the city, and has recently expanded to run all the way into the suburbs on both sides of the city. Katie Nadworny, Travel + Leisure, 16 Aug. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of continent


1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for continent


(senses 1-2) borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, "land forming part of a continuous mass (as opposed to an island)," borrowed from Latin continent-, continens (short for terra continens), from continent-, continens, adjective, "uninterrupted, continuous, forming part of a continuous mass," from present participle of continēre "to hold together, restrain, have as contents"; (senses 3-4) probably borrowed from Medieval Latin continentia "container, content, tenor (of a document)," noun derivative of Latin continent-, continens, present participle of continēre — more at contain

Note: The regular outcome of Medieval Latin continentia following the rules for adopting such nouns in English would have been continence, but as this word was already in use as an abstract noun, writers may have resorted to continent. Note continent in Middle English used by the translator of Chauliac's Grande Chirurgie in the sense "content."


Middle English contynent "abstemious, refraining from sexual intercourse," borrowed from Middle French continent, borrowed from Medieval Latin continent-, continens, going back to Latin, "restrained, not indulging in excesses," from present participle of continēre "to hold together, restrain, have as contents" — more at contain

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Continent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for continent


con·​ti·​nent | \ ˈkän-tə-nənt How to pronounce continent (audio) \

Kids Definition of continent

: one of the great divisions of land on the globe—Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, or South America


con·​ti·​nent | \ ˈkänt-ᵊn-ənt How to pronounce continent (audio) \

Medical Definition of continent

: exercising continence

Other Words from continent

continently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on continent

Nglish: Translation of continent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of continent for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about continent


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