con·​tin·​u·​um | \ kən-ˈtin-yü-əm How to pronounce continuum (audio) \
plural continua\ kən-​ˈtin-​yü-​ə How to pronounce continua (audio) \ 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 Droplet size and behavior is a continuum, not a binary divide. Joe Lindsey, Outside Online, "Inside the Controversial 6-Foot Social-Distancing Study," 17 Apr. 2020 With their patients throughout the continuum of life, nurses are teachers, advocates, caregivers, critical-thinkers and innovators. Alice Adams, Houston Chronicle, "Salute to Nurses: The Houston Chronicle honors 2020's top nurse leaders," 4 May 2020 Nearly one-third of countries lack a coronavirus clinical referral system, a system through which healthcare providers can provide a continuum of care for COVID-19 patients. David Hogberg, Washington Examiner, "WHO warns that over half of countries don't have basic anti-pandemic systems," 22 Apr. 2020 Things get worse every day and look likely to do so for some time, but that continuum—let alone the concept of consequences—is something Trump himself just cannot comprehend. David Roth, The New Republic, "Trump Finds His Own Dumb Endless War," 16 Apr. 2020 Becquerel's image depicts the solar spectrum, a continuum of various electromagnetic waves that make up the energy in solar irradiation. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "After 172 Years, We Now Know How the First Color Photograph Was Made," 1 Apr. 2020 They were juxtaposed with a gallery of contemporary looks by designers such as Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake who have employed an imperfect, assemblage approach that is on a continuum with a aesthetic. Vanessa Lawrence, ELLE Decor, "These Age-Old Japanese Garments Were the Original Upcycled Clothing," 21 Apr. 2020 Think of the types of violence on a continuum, and toward the mildest end is love. Carmen Giménez Smith, New York Times, "Poem: Entanglement," 27 Feb. 2020 Like positive habits, bad habits exist on a continuum of easy to change and hard to change. Popular Science, "Reverse your bad habits with just a handful of tiny changes," 31 Dec. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of continuum

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for continuum

borrowed from Medieval Latin, noun derivative from neuter of Latin continuus continuous

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Time Traveler for continuum

Time Traveler

The first known use of continuum was in 1646

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Last Updated

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Continuum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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How to pronounce continuum (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of continuum

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

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

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