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)

Keep scrolling for more

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Barnes and Noble hasn't given up on its Nook tablets—quite the contrary, in fact. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Barnes and Noble’s newest Kindle competitor is a 7-inch, $49 Nook," 3 Dec. 2018 That doesn't mean my father is unemotional; quite the contrary. Fidel Martinez, latimes.com, "How the Mexican national team has brought me closer to my own father," 17 June 2018 Listening to his music and everything about him tells you quite the contrary. Marilyn Bailey, star-telegram, "Moscow on the Trinity: The Russians are coming (back) to Fort Worth – with good reason," 16 Feb. 2018 On the contrary, Emmanuel Macron continues to provide a blind support to the nuclear (sector). Sylvie Corbet, The Seattle Times, "France’s Macron tries to ease popular anger over gas prices," 27 Nov. 2018 An investigation by The Times in October showed the extent to which Fred Trump had assisted his son over the years, despite Donald Trump’s insistence to the contrary. Steve Eder, The Seattle Times, "Did a Queens podiatrist help Donald Trump avoid Vietnam?," 26 Dec. 2018 From this standpoint, conspiracy thinking isn’t a sign of ignorance or emotionalism; to the contrary, perceiving the hidden plots of our true rulers is a necessary and vital step in seeing through the myth of liberal democracy. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Jeremy Corbyn and the Socialism of Fools," 10 Sep. 2018 Despite recent rumours to the contrary, Ronaldo's release clause remains locked in at €1,000m - but Perez is willing to listen to realistic offers for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who turned 33 earlier this year. SI.com, "Juventus 'Begin' Stunning €120m Cristiano Ronaldo Move With Real Madrid Prepared to Negotiate," 3 July 2018 This seems less like ring-chasing than life-fulfilling for James, despite criticism to the contrary, and merely the method the game’s biggest star chose to ride off into the Hollywood sunset after one final act. David Haugh, chicagotribune.com, "LeBron James opens door in East — so now the Bulls must re-sign Zach LaVine," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Driven in part by their contrary lifestyles and networks, elites and nonelites hold radically different core values. Joan C. Williams, WSJ, "The Elites Feed Anti-Immigrant Bias," 9 July 2018 As for facing backlash for being openly critical, Maidique said punishing a professor for expressinga contrary opinion goes against the fundamental tenets of a university's academic freedom. Colleen Wright, miamiherald, "FIU board, eyeing opportunity and punishment, considers renaming Maidique campus," 18 June 2018 In short, despite the Government’s efforts to paint a contrary picture, this is not a case containing direct, probative evidence of anticompetitive intent on the part of high level executives within the merging company. Joe Palazzolo, WSJ, "Decoding Judge Leon's AT&T-Time Warner Decision," 12 June 2018 On the other hand, the court has said that the federal government may regulate all sorts of things directly and that federal laws pre-empt contrary state laws under the Constitution’s supremacy clause. Adam Liptak, Anchorage Daily News, "Supreme Court strikes down ban on commercial sports betting, paving the way for more states to allow it," 14 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contrary

Statistics for contrary

Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contrary

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on contrary

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

WORD OF THE DAY

grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!