continent

noun
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

continent

adjective
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

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Other Words from continent

Adjective

continently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for continent

Synonyms: Noun

landmass, main, mainland

Synonyms: Adjective

abstemious, abstentious, abstinent, self-abnegating, self-denying, sober, temperate

Antonyms: Adjective

self-indulgent

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

No wonder bits of the continent still have double-digit unemployment. The Economist, "A singular opportunity," 12 Sep. 2019 On the other side of the continent, in today’s Mozambique, missionaries established Catholic communities that would eventually become the contemporary Mozambican Church. Joseph Hellweg, Quartz Africa, "Africa’s Catholic Church faces competition and a troubled legacy even as it grows," 12 Sep. 2019 Several slivers of the continent dodged both a gnarly shave and slow obliteration through subduction. Robin George Andrews, National Geographic, "Lost continent revealed in new reconstruction of geologic history," 11 Sep. 2019 It was settled from north to south in the French Empire, in the middle of the continent. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "The Buried Promise of the Reconstruction Amendments," 9 Sep. 2019 The rolling backlash has united broad swaths of the continent. Julie Turkewitz, New York Times, "South African Riots Over ‘Xenophobia’ Prompt Backlash Across Africa," 5 Sep. 2019 Studies show that the Amazon functions as a giant air conditioner and humidifier for South America, producing and recycling much of the water vapor that flows into the lower parts of the continent. Herton Escobar, Science | AAAS, "There's no doubt that Brazil's fires are caused by deforestation, scientists say," 26 Aug. 2019 Perched on the western edge of the continent and closely tied to the flora and fauna of British Columbia, the city could easily rest on its restaurant laurels, charging high prices for fancy meals. Fortune, "Vancouver Is a Haven for Cheap but Delicious Tasting Menus," 18 Aug. 2019 The issue is critical because this is where the majority of the continent’s ice loss is occurring. Annie Sneed, Scientific American, "The Reason Antarctica Is Melting: Shifting Winds, Driven by Global Warming," 16 Aug. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of continent

Noun

1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for continent

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

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Statistics for continent

Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for continent

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

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More Definitions for continent

continent

noun

English Language Learners Definition of continent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one of the great divisions of land (such as North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, or Antarctica) of the Earth
chiefly British : the countries of Europe except for Great Britain and Ireland

continent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of continent (Entry 2 of 2)

medical : able to control your bladder and bowels

continent

noun
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

continent

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

Medical Definition of continent

: exercising continence

Other Words from continent

continently adverb

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Comments on continent

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