con·tin·u·al | \kən-ˈtin-yü-əl, -yəl\

Definition of continual 

1 : continuing indefinitely in time without interruption continual fear

2 : recurring in steady usually rapid succession a history of continual invasions

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Other Words from continual

continually adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for continual

continual, continuous, constant, incessant, perpetual, perennial mean characterized by continued occurrence or recurrence. continual often implies a close prolonged succession or recurrence. continual showers the whole weekend continuous usually implies an uninterrupted flow or spatial extension. football's oldest continuous rivalry constant implies uniform or persistent occurrence or recurrence. lived in constant pain incessant implies ceaseless or uninterrupted activity. annoyed by the incessant quarreling perpetual suggests unfailing repetition or lasting duration. a land of perpetual snowfall perennial implies enduring existence often through constant renewal. a perennial source of controversy

Did You Know?

Since the mid-19th century, many grammarians have drawn a distinction between continual and continuous. Continual should only mean "occurring at regular intervals," they insist, whereas continuous should be used to mean "continuing without interruption." This distinction overlooks the fact that continual is the older word and was used with both meanings for centuries before continuous appeared on the scene. The prescribed sense of continuous became established only in the 19th century, and it never succeeded in completely driving out the equivalent sense of continual. Today, continual is the more likely of the two to mean "recurring," but it also continues to be used, as it has been since the 14th century, with the meaning "continuing without interruption."

Examples of continual in a Sentence

This week we experienced days of continual sunshine. The country has been in a continual state of war since it began fighting for its independence. The continual interruptions by the student were annoying the teacher.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Verifying the ages of users is a continual problem for the application, as noted by AlterNet. Josh Magness, kansascity, "Teacher used Grindr for 'lap dance,' sex from boy — and cops pulled him over, police say," 14 June 2018 In a blog post Wednesday announcing the move, Twitter cautioned that the removal of some accounts down the road, part of its continual efforts to clean up conversation on the platform, could have an impact on active-user numbers. Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, "Twitter Follower Numbers to Drop as It Removed Locked Accounts," 11 July 2018 Grassland would likely need continual help pushing out invasive species, says Rebecca Swab, director of restoration ecology at a private Ohio conservation park called The Wilds. Leslie Nemo, Scientific American, "From Defiled to Wild—Can a Spent Coal Mine Be Reborn as a Nature Conservation Center?," 11 July 2018 Stark’s words led to continual protests and debates over gay conversion therapy and ultimately helped shut down Refuge. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "Chloe Grace Moretz Rebels Through Conversion Therapy in 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' Trailer," 10 July 2018 The move reflects the difficulty that a stand-alone brand faces today in a global marketplace, with its continual pressure for technological innovation and growth. New York Times, "Dries Van Noten Sells Majority Stake to Puig," 14 June 2018 But this continual metamorphosis also creates a sense of nostalgia. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Octopath Traveler is a modern take on classic Final Fantasy on the Nintendo Switch," 12 July 2018 One reason is his continual need to scale up—to keep getting bigger at the fastest possible rate. Sam Tanenhaus, Town & Country, "Can Chris Whittle Launch a Truly Global School?," 10 July 2018 Lifeguards undergo continual drills and physical and medical training, learning how to use rescue boards, how to judge wave and beach conditions. Meredith Colias-pete, Post-Tribune, "More than just a day at the beach, lifeguards train to save lives," 10 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'continual.' 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 continual

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for continual

Middle English, from Anglo-French continuel, from Latin continuus continuous

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Statistics for continual

Last Updated

1 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for continual

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

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More Definitions for continual



English Language Learners Definition of continual

: happening without interruption : not stopping or ending

: happening again and again within short periods of time


con·tin·u·al | \kən-ˈtin-yə-wəl \

Kids Definition of continual

1 : going on or lasting without stop On every side there rose a continual chattering.— Robert Lawson, Rabbit Hill

2 : occurring again and again within short periods of time Your continual interruptions are annoying.

Other Words from continual

continually adverb

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Comments on continual

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