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con·​tra·​dic·​to·​ry ˌkän-trə-ˈdik-t(ə-)rē How to pronounce contradictory (audio)
: involving, causing, or constituting a contradiction
contradictory statements
The witnesses gave contradictory accounts of the accident.
contradictorily adverb
contradictoriness noun


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plural contradictories
: a proposition (see proposition entry 1 sense 2a) so related to another that if either of the two is true the other is false and if either is false the other must be true
Choose the Right Synonym for contradictory

opposite, contradictory, contrary, antithetical mean being so far apart as to be or seem irreconcilable.

opposite applies to things in sharp contrast or in conflict.

opposite views on foreign aid

contradictory applies to two things that completely negate each other so that if one is true or valid the other must be untrue or invalid.

made contradictory predictions about whether the market would rise or fall

contrary implies extreme divergence or diametrical opposition.

contrary assessments of the war situation

antithetical stresses clear and unequivocal diametrical opposition.

a law that is antithetical to the very idea of democracy

Examples of contradictory in a Sentence

Adjective contradictory predictions regarding stock prices that were of no help to investors at all
Recent Examples on the Web
There are too many variables, too much contradictory information. Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2023 The idea was controversial, and further research produced contradictory results. Simon Makin, Scientific American, 21 Nov. 2023 Despite scientists’ claims of certainty and terrible consequences if they weren’t obeyed, each order was followed by a contradictory order. WSJ, 21 Nov. 2023 At the center of these contradictory recollections is Rex Heuermann, the Manhattan architect who law enforcement officials believe is responsible for killing at least three women in cases that remained unsolved for more than a decade after human remains were found on Long Island’s Gilgo Beach. Tim Stelloh, NBC News, 10 Nov. 2023 While some of the findings are contradictory — some find a risk of heart failure, others don’t — and no definitive conclusions can be made about marijuana’s risk to the heart, researchers say the signs shouldn’t be ignored. Akshay Syal, M.d., NBC News, 18 Nov. 2023 Uneven terrain or a change in wind speed and direction can create contradictory signs. John Riha, Discover Magazine, 12 Nov. 2023 Vultures have addressed the contradictory demands by becoming some of the world’s finest gliders. Natalie Angier, New York Times, 12 Nov. 2023 This is a column about two numbers that seem to tell contradictory stories about globalization. Josh Zumbrun, WSJ, 3 Nov. 2023
For six months, experts have given the American public contradictory and weaponized election-year directives on masks, social distancing, lockdowns, school closures, and workplace policies. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, 24 Sep. 2020 For a school board that has criticized Foose for a lack of transparency, the secret talks over separation and lining up an interim appear contradictory. Howard County Times, 3 May 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'contradictory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French contraditoire, contradictoire, borrowed from Late Latin contrādictōrius, from Latin contrādic-, variant stem of contrādīcere "to speak against, object to" + -tōrius, deverbal adjective suffix originally forming derivatives from agent nouns ending in -tōr-, -tor — more at contradict


earlier, "contradictory proposition, inconsistency," going back to Middle English contradictorie, borrowed from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French contradictoire, borrowed from Late Latin contrādictōria, noun derivative from feminine of contrādictōrius contradictory entry 1

First Known Use


1656, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of contradictory was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near contradictory

Cite this Entry

“Contradictory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: involving, causing, or being a contradiction
contradictory statements
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