contrary

noun
con·​trary | \ ˈkän-ˌtrer-ē How to pronounce contrary (audio) , -ˌtre-rē\
plural contraries

Definition of contrary

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a fact or condition incompatible with another : opposite usually used with the
2 : one of a pair of opposites
3a : a proposition (see proposition entry 1 sense 2a) so related to another that though both may be false they cannot both be true — compare subcontrary
b : either of two terms (such as good and evil) that cannot both be affirmed of the same subject
by contraries
obsolete : in a manner opposite to what is logical or expected
on the contrary
: just the opposite The test will not be easy; on the contrary, it will be extremely difficult.
to the contrary
1 : on the contrary

contrary

adjective
con·​trary | \ ˈkän-ˌtrer-ē How to pronounce contrary (audio) , -ˌtre-rē, sense 4 often kən-ˈtrer-ē How to pronounce contrary (audio) \

Definition of contrary (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : being so different as to be at opposite extremes : opposite come to the contrary conclusion went off in contrary directions also : being opposite to or in conflict with each other contrary viewpoints
2 : being not in conformity with what is usual or expected actions contrary to company policy contrary evidence
3 : unfavorable used of wind or weather
4 : temperamentally unwilling to accept control or advice

contrary

adverb
con·​trary | \ ˈkän-ˌtrer-ē How to pronounce contrary (audio) , -ˌtre-rē also kən-ˈtrer-ē\

Definition of contrary (Entry 3 of 3)

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Other Words from contrary

Adjective

contrarily \ ˈkän-​ˌtrer-​ə-​lē How to pronounce contrarily (audio) , kən-​ˈtrer-​ \ adverb
contrariness \ ˈkän-​ˌtrer-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce contrariness (audio) , kən-​ˈtrer-​ \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for contrary

Synonyms: Noun

antipode, antithesis, counter, negative, obverse, opposite, reverse

Synonyms: Adjective

antipodal, antipodean, antithetical, contradictory, diametric (or diametrical), opposite, polar

Antonyms: Adjective

noncontradictory

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Choose the Right Synonym for contrary

Adjective

contrary, perverse, restive, balky, wayward mean inclined to resist authority or control. contrary implies a temperamental unwillingness to accept orders or advice. a contrary child perverse may imply wrongheaded, determined, or cranky opposition to what is reasonable or normal. a perverse, intractable critic restive suggests unwillingness or inability to submit to discipline or follow orders. tired soldiers growing restive balky suggests a refusing to proceed in a desired direction or course of action. a balky witness wayward suggests strong-willed capriciousness and irregularity in behavior. a school for wayward youths

synonyms see in addition opposite

Examples of contrary in a Sentence

Noun

As kiss-and-tell books go, "Opening Arguments" by Jeffrey Toobin has few, if any, deep and sensuous secrets to reveal—this despite many news stories to the contrary. — Nina Totenberg, New York Times Book Review, March 31, 1991 He was not, despite the mythology he and his press agents so assiduously manufactured, a risk taker. On the contrary, he was more often timid to the point of fecklessness. — Christopher Buckley, New York Times Book Review, 4 Nov. 1990 Other men—a surprising number of them—do not feel anger or blame. On the contrary, they feel a strong blood tie to their fathers, and to them the discipline was a minor thing. — Robert Bly, Iron John, 1990 "Is this the girl who has moved into Villa Villekulla?" asked one of the policemen. "Quite the contrary," said Pippi. "This is a tiny little auntie who lives on the third floor at the other end of the town." — Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking, (1950) 1978 the admonition that we should not return hate with hate, but rather with its contrary—love

Adjective

Kicking Wolf was a very contrary man—he did as he pleased. — Larry McMurtry, Dead Man's Walk, 1995 At sunrise 4 January she set sail, and the homeward passage began. Two days later, Columbus sighted Pinta sailing in a contrary direction … — Samuel Eliot Morison, The European Discovery of America, 1974 Mistress Mary got up from the log at once. She knew she felt contrary again, and obstinate, and she did not care at all. — Frances Hodgson, The Secret Garden, 1911 The sisters gave contrary answers: one said “yes” and one said “no.” We had contrary opinions on the issue. Without contrary evidence, the jury will find her guilty. The boat sailed against a contrary wind. Contrary weather impeded the rescue efforts.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The real mistake Dombrowski made was believing right up until this April that Thornburg would recapture his 2016 form despite all the evidence to the contrary. Peter Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, "Christian Yelich continues his ascent among MLB’s best," 13 July 2019 To the contrary, the two were teammates for two seasons and part of a third. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "Warriors scout Monta Ellis and Amar’e Stoudemire; Stephen Curry is their common denominator," 9 July 2019 But the history of the housing boom and bust provides much evidence to the contrary. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "Democrats May Inflate Another Housing Bubble," 9 July 2019 Spider-Man, despite the myth to the contrary, is never alone. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'Far From Home' Gets Spider-Man Comics Right," 7 July 2019 More important than the financial upside, there is also a widespread sense here that, all evidence to the contrary, Stalin was only pretending to be a communist. David Segal, New York Times, "A Monster to History, Stalin Is a Tourist Magnet in His Hometown," 30 June 2019 Putin has denied meddling in the American election to help Trump, even though Mueller uncovered extensive evidence to the contrary. Author: Jonathan Lemire And Zeke Miller, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump jokes to Putin: ‘Don’t meddle in the election’," 28 June 2019 Putin has denied that Russia meddled in the American election to help Trump win, even though Mueller uncovered extensive evidence to the contrary. Washington Post, "In Japan, Trump pushes allies on trade before meeting Putin," 28 June 2019 Putin has denied meddling in the American election to help Trump, even though Mueller uncovered extensive evidence to the contrary. Jonathan Lemire, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump jokes to Putin: ‘Don’t meddle in the election’," 28 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Unsurprisingly, McConnell's particular take on the subject was widely viewed as ahistorical and highly contrary. Graeme Mcmillan, WIRED, "While You Were Offline: The President Is Running for President, FYI," 23 June 2019 But there’s something wonderfully contrary going on here. Ron Charles Critic, Washington Post, "‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’ — and so is modern marriage," 13 June 2019 Trump is the tech genius saying Reactor Number Four could not have exploded because that’s his opinion, and no facts can change it, even as chunks of evidence to the contrary rain down around him. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Chernobyl: Devastating Indictment of Socialism, Not Trumpism," 5 June 2019 While Mark Zuckerberg ran the Congressional gauntlet this week, Ayman Hariri opportunistically toured the media circuit with a contrary message. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Cyber Saturday—Meet Vero, a Lebanese Billionaire's Anti-Facebook," 14 Apr. 2018 Card presented contrary analysis of the same data set, which showed no statistically significant difference for Asian-American students' chances of acceptance. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "A Timeline of the Harvard Affirmative Action Lawsuit," 2 Nov. 2018 The godson to Prince Philip and cousin of Prince Charles, Hicks is, despite his children's occasional claims to contrary, anything but snobbish. Jennifer Wright, Town & Country, "Hard to Believe This Wasn't the Wedding of the Summer, or All Time," 9 Sep. 2015 Gainsborough is an elusive and often contrary subject. Maxwell Carter, WSJ, "‘Gainsborough’ Review: A Special Light Shone Out of Him," 25 May 2018 The result is what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described in congressional testimony on Thursday as ‘‘contrary impulses.’’ On the one hand, Trump wants the United States to have nothing to do with Syria. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump’s strikes on Syria risk retaliation, escalation in a war he wants to avoid," 14 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

The suspect was not wearing an explosives-laden belt, Van der Sypt said, contrary to an initial eyewitness account from a railway official. Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post, "Suspect in foiled Brussels attack was 36-year-old Moroccan, authorities say," 21 June 2017

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

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for contrary

Noun, Adjective, and Adverb

Middle English contrarie, from Anglo-French contraire, contrairie, from Medieval Latin contrarius, from Latin, adjective, opposite, adverse, from contra opposite

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Statistics for contrary

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contrary

The first known use of contrary was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for contrary

contrary

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of contrary

: exactly opposite to something else : entirely different from something else
: against or opposed to something
: not favorable or helpful

contrary

noun
con·​trary | \ ˈkän-ˌtrer-ē How to pronounce contrary (audio) \
plural contraries

Kids Definition of contrary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something opposite … we never see the true state of our condition till it is illustrated to us by its contraries— Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
on the contrary
: just the opposite : no You look tired. On the contrary, I'm wide awake.

contrary

adjective
con·​trary | \ ˈkän-ˌtrer-ē, 4 is often kən-ˈtrer-ē\

Kids Definition of contrary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : exactly opposite Their opinion is contrary to mine.
2 : being against what is usual or expected Her actions are contrary to school policy.
3 : not favorable contrary weather
4 : unwilling to accept control or advice a contrary child

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Comments on contrary

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