con·​trar·​i·​an kən-ˈtrer-ē-ən How to pronounce contrarian (audio)
: a person who takes a contrary position or attitude
specifically : an investor who buys shares of stock when most others are selling and sells when others are buying
contrarian adjective
contrarianism noun

Did you know?

Anyone who thinks that most of what the public believes is wrong would be called a contrarian. And contrarian is a basic term in the vocabulary of investing. In fact, most successful investors often behave like contrarians by "buying low and selling high"—that is, buying stocks that are cheap because most investors put a low value on them but that have the possibility of rising, and selling stocks that most investors are valuing highly but that seem likely to decline. The word may be most common as an adjective; so you may express a contrarian opinion, hold a contrarian view, or pursue a contrarian investment strategy.

Examples of contrarian in a Sentence

As an investor, he's a contrarian, preferring to buy stocks when most people are selling.
Recent Examples on the Web Remarkably, all but a scattering of contrarians complied. Simon Vozick-Levinson, Rolling Stone, 3 Oct. 2023 The first act was basically being a contrarian to everybody on stage. Tal Axelrod, ABC News, 27 Sep. 2023 American Association of Individual Investors The contrarian in you might be tempted to use the recent spike in investor optimism as a sign to exit stocks–or even short the market. Michael Joseph, Fortune, 14 Sep. 2023 Skip is a genuine, authentic, professional contrarian. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 1 June 2023 Burry made his name as a contrarian, and that hasn’t changed. Ye Xie, Fortune, 16 May 2023 The Athenian mob executed poor old Socrates for being an irritating contrarian. David Harsanyi, National Review, 27 Apr. 2023 The incentives are begging you to be a contrarian. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, 15 Mar. 2021 The contrarians and economic opportunists – when SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is pushing something, be suspicious – will say this is no different than the arguments against expansion in the early 1980s. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, 18 Mar. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1954, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of contrarian was in 1954

Dictionary Entries Near contrarian

Cite this Entry

“Contrarian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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