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

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Antonyms for contentious

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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

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Time Traveler for contentious

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

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Cite this Entry

“Contentious.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on contentious

Nglish: Translation of contentious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contentious for Arabic Speakers


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