continent

1 of 2

noun

con·​ti·​nent ˈkän-tə-nənt How to pronounce continent (audio)
ˈkänt-nənt
1
a
: one of the six or seven great divisions of land on the globe
b
capitalized : the continent of Europe
used with the
2
3
archaic : container, confines
4
archaic : epitome

continent

2 of 2

adjective

con·​ti·​nent ˈkän-tə-nənt How to pronounce continent (audio)
1
: exercising continence
Most children are continent by the age of three.
2
obsolete : restrictive
continently adverb

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
Her debut novel follows four generations of one family over continents and the course of nearly a century. Elizabeth Blair, NPR, 9 Apr. 2024 Running the entire length of a continent, though, might take some beating. Ben Church, CNN, 8 Apr. 2024 With the photo evidence of his wife and the ball, and with Ohtani’s memorabilia market spanning continents, chances are somebody would have paid for it. Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times, 5 Apr. 2024 While straddling Tinseltown and the world’s biggest stadiums, Dua–who is firmly in media mogul mode, traversing continents while also producing her podcast and newsletter–has kept one thing constant in her wardrobe: leather. Alice Newbold, Vogue, 5 Apr. 2024 Many of the effects of climate change play out at a very large scale: Heatwaves that grip entire continents. Kari Nadeau, STAT, 4 Apr. 2024 As Bloomberg notes, the European Central Bank estimated this winter that perhaps fifteen per cent of the business of that continent’s banks is linked to companies that are in high-carbon, energy-intensive sectors. Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, 4 Apr. 2024 As an eclipse came around, Jay could be found wearing his lucky orange pants and heading expeditions of colleagues, students (many of whom became professional astronomers and eclipse chasers themselves), tourists and friends to corners of every continent. Dennis Overbye, New York Times, 2 Apr. 2024 Cosmopolitans, Kumar wrote years ago, are not only those people who move between countries or continents but also those who move great distances, geographic or social, within their native countries. James Wood, The New Yorker, 1 Apr. 2024
Adjective
The cross-continent trek for Rye Riptides, which students and now-retired Rye Junior High School science teacher Sheila Adams stuffed with photos of the Rye students, a facemask with their signatures on it, fall leaves, acorns and state quarters, was conducted with the help of Educational Passages. Ian Lenahan, USA TODAY, 17 Feb. 2022 The totem pole was carved by members of the Lummi Nation and is being transported from their home in Washington state to Washington, D.C., as part of a 15-day, cross-continent journey to advocate for the protection of sacred places and the expansion of tribal sovereignty rights. Zak Podmore, The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 July 2021 Want to hit the sights on a cross-continent trip in a Cayenne? Brendan McAleer, Car and Driver, 25 Feb. 2023 Sachs is writing from Malta, where she’s been reporting on restrictions in Europe during a cross-continent trip. Washington Post, 2 Aug. 2021 The singer spent the past year flying around the world for her multi-continent Future Nostalgia tour and continued her jet-setting this past week with a trip to Groningen, Netherlands. Hannah Oh, Seventeen, 23 Jan. 2023 The resilient East African nation has rebounded over the past three decades; so, too, has its lion population, via a cross-continent initiative led by AndBeyond, African Parks and the Rwanda Development Board. Stephanie Vermillion, Robb Report, 3 Jan. 2023 Exploring the physics of reindeer flight and cross-continent travel, for example, involves basic concepts that are much more fun to learn with a jolly gift giver at the center of them. Kyle Hill, Discover Magazine, 19 Dec. 2013 The scientists did the same sort of analysis for the remnants of other arc-continent collisions around the world and traced their origins back through time. Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 14 Mar. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'continent.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

(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."

Adjective

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

First Known Use

Noun

1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of continent was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near continent

Cite this Entry

“Continent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/continent. Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

continent

noun
con·​ti·​nent
ˈkänt-ᵊn-ənt,
ˈkänt-nənt
1
: one of the great divisions of land (as North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, or Antarctica) on the globe
2
capitalized : the continent of Europe

Medical Definition

continent

adjective
con·​ti·​nent ˈkänt-ᵊn-ənt How to pronounce continent (audio)
: exercising continence
continently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on continent

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