Synonym Chooser

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


Thesaurus Entries Near contentious

Cite this Entry

“Contentious.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2024.

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