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

To the contrary, Mueller did not find enough evidence to file criminal charges in any of the contacts between the Trump campaign and Russians. Ken Dilanian, NBC News, "Congress raises questions Mueller left unanswered about Trump, Russia," 12 June 2019 Into the 'burbs While road diet opponents claim that narrowing streets hurts business, this appears to be strong evidence to the contrary: Ferndale, a 3.88-square-mile city with about 20,000 residents, is booming. Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press, "Autos vs. bikes: Watch for shrinking roads in metro Detroit," 10 June 2019 On the contrary, achieving that thick-as-thieves on-screen bond with Williams required no behind-the-scenes fluffing. Kathryn Wirsing, Marie Claire, "Aya Cash Takes a Turn for the Best," 30 Apr. 2019 On the contrary, we as men should be embracing that more. Mikelle Street, Teen Vogue, "Nicki Minaj Is Being Accused of Queerphobia On Her New Album "Queen"," 13 Aug. 2018 On the contrary, Chris is actually known to many as the resident jokester of the cast. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Chris Sullivan Reveals How Toby’s Depression Took a Toll on Him," 19 Mar. 2019 And all appearances to the contrary, there is a kind of modesty to him, a part that is very simple. Kennedy Fraser, Vogue, "From the Archives: Karl Lagerfeld, The Impresario," 19 Feb. 2019 According to Meghan's friends, Thomas Markle never reached out to his daughter, despite multiple claims to the contrary, after missing the royal wedding. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Palace Reportedly Didn't Know Meghan Markle's Friends Were Talking to the Press," 9 Feb. 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 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

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

19 Jun 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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