continual

adjective
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

Long ago, The Homestead Act of 1862 advocated for the search for gold and timber, and today, H.R. 2262 fuels a new economy that will open many avenues for the continual growth and prosperity of humanity. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Senate Passes Law to Legalize Space Mining," 13 Nov. 2015 Like a SimCity experiment, Las Catalinas continues to double in size each year, lending a sense of continual discovery for residents and returning guests. Nora Walsh, Vogue, "Eco Idyll: Las Catalinas, the Car-Free Costa Rica Town, Welcomes a New Hotel," 4 Apr. 2019 General Motors' Lordstown Assembly plant was in continual operation since 1966 through yesterday, March 6, 2019. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "GM's Lordstown Chevy Cruze Plant Closes Amidst Protests," 7 Mar. 2019 Axios says the continual monitoring won’t check for traffic violations, which can also get a person banned from driving. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "Uber now monitors drivers in real-time for new criminal charges," 13 July 2018 Insulin is a shining example of why drugs deserve the utmost patent protection to encourage continual innovation. WSJ, "Would Drug Price Controls Kill Innovation?," 14 Jan. 2019 Military and civilian users across the globe depend on the 31 satellites, in six different orbital planes above Earth, to provide continual navigation signals. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "USAF's Next-Gen GPS Satellites Will Be a Huge Upgrade...Eventually," 26 Dec. 2018 The state Legislature has been under continual pressure to increase funding for the foster-care system, especially to reduce caseloads to 18 children per caseworker. Scott Greenstone, The Seattle Times, "With shortage of foster parents, Washington has almost tenfold increase in hotel stays for foster kids," 27 Nov. 2018 Seattle has been virtually the only city in the country to see continual growth in transit ridership over the last several years. David Gutman, The Seattle Times, "King County Metro named nation’s top public transportation agency," 6 Aug. 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

14 May 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

continual

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of continual

: happening without interruption : not stopping or ending
: happening again and again within short periods of time

continual

adjective
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

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