con·​tin·​u·​al | \ kən-ˈtin-yü-əl How to pronounce continual (audio) , -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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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

Thanks for following our journey and for your continual support of our family. Jen Juneau,, "Jeremy and Audrey Roloff Expecting Second Child: 'We Are So Grateful'," 1 July 2019 Those policies all served as pretense for continual police surveillance and frequent raids. Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic, "How Stonewall Reversed a Long History of Justifying Police Surveillance," 29 June 2019 Obviously can't do it without Honda's continual development, as well. Jim Ayello, Indianapolis Star, "Alexander Rossi's Road America beatdown baffles Penske's podium finishers," 23 June 2019 The 10-speed automatic rolls effortlessly through the gears to keep momentum rolling without continual downshifts. San Diego Union-Tribune, "$74,000 Ford F-150? Dearborn’s best, but love is blind," 22 June 2019 Global mapping of the moon has raised interest in the poles and areas that sit in continual darkness, like craters where the sun can't reach. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Apollo 11 is paving a path from the moon to Mars," 22 June 2019 Around 30 days after sail deployment, the paperclip pushes will accumulate into a continual thrust that, if the experience of LightSail 1 holds true, will raise LightSail 2's orbit by a considerable amount. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Carl Sagan's Solar Sail Is Finally Ready To Fly," 21 June 2019 Buckthorn is an example of an invasive plant in the Chicago area that requires continual management for native communities to thrive. Tim Johnson,, "How to identify weeds and invasive species vs. ornamental plants," 20 June 2019 This allows patients at risk to have freedom of movement along with continual monitoring. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Cardiac device maker gets $170 million financing," 20 June 2019

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

9 Jul 2019

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 How to pronounce continual (audio) \

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

What made you want to look up continual? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


food or victuals

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