con·​tra | \ ˈkän-trə How to pronounce contra (audio) \

Definition of contra

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : against used chiefly in the phrase pro and contra
2 : in opposition or contrast to


con·​tra | \ ˈkän-trə How to pronounce contra (audio) , ˈkōn-, -ˌträ How to pronounce contra (audio) \

Definition of contra (Entry 2 of 3)

: a member of a guerrilla group opposed to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the 1980s



Definition of contra- (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : against : contrary : contrasting contradistinction
2 : pitched below normal bass contrabassoon

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Synonyms & Antonyms for contra

Synonyms: Preposition

against, agin [dialect], anti

Antonyms: Preposition

for, pro

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Examples of contra in a Sentence


a roundup of editorials pro and contra the proposed constitutional amendment

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Organizer Eli Malone was invited by a friend, and the space was their first introduction to contra. Nicole Blackwood,, "Chicago's Queer Contra practices an old dance (think Jane Austen, think 'Oklahoma!'), made new," 12 June 2019 Similar tensions cropped up during the Watergate, Iran-contra, Whitewater and Valerie Plame leak investigations. Charlie Savage, New York Times, "For Mueller, a Feared Weakness Becomes a Strength," 5 Apr. 2018 The author is not dead, contra Roland Barthes—but how, then, to deal with Naipaul and his ilk? Constance Grady, Vox, "Why the YA book world is talking about dick soap," 18 Aug. 2018 When the operation unraveled in 1986, after a contra supply plane was shot down, Mr. Posada turned to private security work in Guatemala. Ellie Silverman, Washington Post, "Luis Posada Carriles, militant anti-communist who tried to overthrow Castro, dies at 90," 24 May 2018 That act empowered Lawrence Walsh to investigate Iran-contra and Kenneth Starr to investigate Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky. Neal Katyal, Time, "President Trump Is Wrong. The Mueller Probe Is Constitutional," 7 June 2018 The Reagan administration supported the cause of the rebels, known as contras, but Congress stopped the U.S. from supporting them financially. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "Oliver North Will Be the Next President of the NRA. Here's What to Know About the Arms Deal That Made Him Famous," 7 May 2018 And in 1986, as Iran-contra rattled the White House and President Reagan sent up distress signals, Mr. Carlucci took over the troubled National Security Council — glad, friends said, to be back in his element. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Frank C. Carlucci, Diplomat and Defense Secretary to Reagan, Dies at 87," 4 June 2018 To hear some tell it, Chappaquiddick, Iran-contra, the Keating Five, Whitewater, the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal and the C.I.A. leak case were all worse than Watergate. Peter Baker, New York Times, "‘Bigger Than Watergate’? Both Sides Say Yes, but for Different Reasons," 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contra.' 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 contra


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1981, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for contra


Middle English, from Latin


American Spanish, short for contrarrevolucionario counterrevolutionary


Middle English, from Latin, from contra against, opposite — more at counter

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Time Traveler for contra

The first known use of contra was in the 15th century

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Kids Definition of contra-

1 : against : contrary : contrasting contradiction
2 : pitched below normal bass


con·​tra | \ ˈkän-trə How to pronounce contra (audio) \

Legal Definition of contra

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: in opposition or contrast to



Legal Definition of contra (Entry 2 of 2)

: placed or set in opposition contra parties

History and Etymology for contra



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More from Merriam-Webster on contra

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contra

Spanish Central: Translation of contra Encyclopedia article about contra

Comments on contra

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


something desired as essential

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