Synonyms & Antonyms of contentious

3 relating to or causing the expression of opposing opinions
  • gun control is likely to be a contentious subject in any group discussion

Synonyms for contentious

Words Related to contentious

Near Antonyms for contentious

Antonyms for contentious

See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About contentious

How is the word contentious distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of contentious are bellicose, belligerent, pugnacious, and quarrelsome. While all these words mean "having an aggressive or fighting attitude," contentious implies perverse and irritating fondness for arguing and quarreling.

wearied by his contentious disposition

When would bellicose be a good substitute for contentious?

The meanings of bellicose and contentious largely overlap; however, bellicose suggests a disposition to fight.

a drunk in a bellicose mood

When could belligerent be used to replace contentious?

While the synonyms belligerent and contentious are close in meaning, belligerent often implies being actually at war or engaged in hostilities.

belligerent nations

When can pugnacious be used instead of contentious?

In some situations, the words pugnacious and contentious are roughly equivalent. However, pugnacious suggests a disposition that takes pleasure in personal combat.

a pugnacious gangster

In what contexts can quarrelsome take the place of contentious?

The synonyms quarrelsome and contentious are sometimes interchangeable, but quarrelsome stresses an ill-natured readiness to fight without good cause.

the heat made us all quarrelsome

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contentious

Time Traveler for contentious

Time Traveler

The first known use of contentious was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about contentious

Cite this Entry

“Contentious.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on contentious

Dictionary: Definition of contentious

Spanish Central: Translation of contentious

Nglish: Translation of contentious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contentious for Arabic Speakers

Comments on contentious

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


Test Your Vocabulary

July 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • papercraft sunset
  • Which is a synonym of mien?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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