Definition of continual
- continual fear
- a history of continual invasions
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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.
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.
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."
First Known Use: 14th centurySee Words from the same year
: happening without interruption : not stopping or ending
: happening again and again within short periods of time
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