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 The reactions made visible the groups’ concerns that data could be lost or duplicated, and underlined their continual worry that the CDC is being undercut and sidelined. Maryn Mckenna, Wired, "Covid-19 Data in the US Is an ‘Information Catastrophe’," 30 July 2020 Davis also said potential donors are in continual need for ongoing supply to blood banks at regional hospitals and health care facilities. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "First responder blood drive set for Thursday in Woodlands; 2 others in August," 13 July 2020 Still, the Wizards still won't be full strength without Beal as this could be a continual theme in this 22-team return format. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, "Phoenix Suns won't face NBA's second-leading scorer Bradley Beal in restart opener," 9 July 2020 Vasquez, a single parent, lamented the continual reduction in pay his assignments provide. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Gig workers sound off on the Uber-Postmates deal: ‘It’s like an embezzler buying a bank’," 7 July 2020 On the sliding scale used in France to measure dependency, Meyer had been graded GIR 1, reserved for people who require continual care. Washington Post, "After waves of COVID deaths, care homes face legal reckoning," 26 June 2020 But the absence of other sounds is an opportunity to remember that the world around us is playing a continual symphony. Helen Czerski, WSJ, "The Complex Music of Car Tires," 25 June 2020 There’s been a continual massacre since and the culture hasn’t changed in Tulsa. Tiffany Crutcher, Time, "‘We’re Still Not Free.’ A Descendant of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre on President Trump’s Decision to Hold a Rally on Juneteenth Weekend in Tulsa," 19 June 2020 Because at present, our country still accepts and protects the continual harassment — unconscious or otherwise — terrorizing and brutalizing of Black and Brown people, which is far too often fatal. Chancellor Agard,, "The Flash fires Hartley Sawyer after racist, misogynist tweets resurface," 8 June 2020

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 continuel, borrowed from Anglo-French, probably from continu continuous + -el, going back to Latin -ālis -al entry 1

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Time Traveler for continual

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for continual

Last Updated

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Continual.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for continual


How to pronounce continual (audio)

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 stopping 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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