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

Synonyms & Antonyms for contrary

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But so far, crypto price action points to the contrary. Dan Runkevicius, Forbes, 13 May 2022 Pfizer, which is testing a triple-Omicron series in a group of previously unjabbed people, could produce data to the contrary. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 13 May 2022 Like Landry, Beckham is a free agent who won't be back with the Browns despite occasional speculation to the contrary. Nate Ulrich, USA TODAY, 13 May 2022 And despite current Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s assertions to the contrary, a soft landing is looking questionable. Tristan Bove, Fortune, 4 May 2022 Willer said their research indicated that users are largely not fond of toxic tweets, despite appearances to the contrary. Melanie Masonstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr. 2022 Trans activists, to the contrary, rely on a clinical consensus for ‘gender affirmation’ that does not exist. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, 27 Apr. 2022 To the contrary, the entire court agreed that Congress has the power to renege on treaties. WSJ, 25 Apr. 2022 On the contrary, Draft Kings is currently focusing on user acquisition and investing heavily in marketing and general & administrative expenses. Trefis Team, Forbes, 2 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There is simply no contrary view of the war to be seen or heard in Russia's mass media. Jill Dougherty, CNN, 3 Apr. 2022 If the Alito draft maintains the support of a majority of the justices, the court will be ruling in the face of contrary public opinion. Dan Balz, Colby Itkowitz, Caroline Kitchener, Anchorage Daily News, 4 May 2022 That was the biggest decision, because that was the most contrary. Devan Coggan, EW.com, 22 Apr. 2022 Despite the growing evidence to the contrary, many diplomats, officials, and analysts refused to seriously believe the American and British intelligence warnings about the imminence of an attack. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 25 Feb. 2022 At a university, minds should be opened, not closed; new and contrary ideas should be embraced, not debased; and biases should be challenged, not confirmed. WSJ, 27 Mar. 2022 In 2015, Jacobson wrote a paper for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showing that, on the contrary, wind and solar energy could keep the electric grid running. The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2022 Suggestions to the contrary reinforce the same gender stereotypes that the International Women’s Day website claims to be against. Madeleine Kearns, National Review, 12 Mar. 2022 As in many spheres of Russian life, tolerance for contrary or unorthodox views in the media has been eroding for years. New York Times, 7 Mar. 2022 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, 21 June 2017 See More

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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Time Traveler for contrary

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near contrary

contrarotation

contrary

contrary-minded

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Statistics for contrary

Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contrary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contrary. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for contrary

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

More from Merriam-Webster on contrary

Nglish: Translation of contrary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contrary for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about contrary

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