con·tin·u·um | \kən-ˈtin-yü-əm \
plural continua\kən-ˈtin-yü-ə \ also continuums

Definition of continuum 

1 : a coherent whole characterized as a collection, sequence, or progression of values or elements varying by minute degrees "good" and "bad" … stand at opposite ends of a continuum instead of describing the two halves of a line— Wayne Shumaker

2 : the set of real numbers including both the rationals and the irrationals broadly : a compact set which cannot be separated into two sets neither of which contains a limit point of the other

Examples of continuum in a Sentence

His motives for volunteering lie somewhere on the continuum between charitable and self-serving. a continuum of temperatures ranging from very cold to very hot

Recent Examples on the Web

Science diplomacy is different, operating across a continuum of urgencies from political to sustainability time scales. Paul Arthur Berkman, Scientific American, "Could Science Diplomacy Be the Key to Stabilizing International Relations?," 12 June 2018 Wine is somewhere on that continuum, somewhere between first being borrowed and then being fully assimilated into our culture. Michael Austin,, "For the Fourth, drink American: Syrah, pinot, grenache and a vineyard full of other U.S. wines," 28 June 2018 Offering a continuum of care for the homeless is listed as a two-year goal. Karen Huppertz, ajc, "Gwinnett County, United Way to tackle homelessness," 29 June 2018 Burge said that Hamilton County provides a continuum of care facilitated by Strategies to End Homelessness. Laura A. Hobson,, "Interfaith Hospitality Network: A circle of community concern," 17 June 2018 Social Distortion is firmly in the rock continuum of Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen. Bill Brownlee, kansascity, "Social Distortion headlines the Middle of the Map Fest June 30 at Crossroads KC.," 13 June 2018 So everyone needs to be aware of this in the care continuum. Naseem S. Miller,, "Large AIDS conference coming to Orlando in September," 13 July 2018 But the ill-advisement of having brought them back flies in the face of evolution and the natural continuum. Kathryn Shattuck, New York Times, "Jeff Goldblum, Back in ‘Jurassic World’ and Making a Small Role Big," 15 June 2018 Along this particular continuum, Democrats won the House, thanks in part to the success of moderate candidates in their party. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "Ousted Rep. Joe Crowley the latest lawmaker 'supposed to be' House Speaker," 1 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'continuum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of continuum

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for continuum

Latin, neuter of continuus — see continuous

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about continuum

Statistics for continuum

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for continuum

The first known use of continuum was in 1646

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for continuum



English Language Learners Definition of continuum

: a range or series of things that are slightly different from each other and that exist between two different possibilities

More from Merriam-Webster on continuum

Britannica English: Translation of continuum for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about continuum

Comments on continuum

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


to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!