Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from Middle French contrariété, from Late Latin contrarietas, from contrarius, from Latin contra (against). By surface analysis, contrary +‎ -ety.



contrariety (countable and uncountable, plural contrarieties)

  1. Opposition or contrariness; cross-purposes, marked contrast.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 12, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes [], book II, London: [] Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], OCLC 946730821:
      What differences of sense and reason, what contrarietie of imaginations doth the diversitie of our passions present unto us?
    • 1759, Laurence Sterne, The Life & Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Penguin 2003, p.61:
      This contrariety of humours betwixt my father and my uncle, was the source of many a fraternal squabble.
    • 1800, James Sedgwick, Remarks, Critical and Miscellaneous, on the Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone, page 171:
      The contrariety of views and designs, the concertative, dilatory conferences of a numerous assembly ( rent and divided as such assemblies are ever found to be ) , render it expedient that the prerogative of commencing war be confided to the advised discretion of the executory power.
    • 1838, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Duty and Inclination, volume II, London: Henry Colburn, page 192:
      Yet however within my reach, however tempting they may appear, when I think upon the contrarieties, the restraints, the uncertainties that in this sublunary temporary sojourn would interpose their bane, the scene appears joyless, and I fly, rejoicing fly, to rest my hopes, faith, confidence on that base which is immutable, never-changing, never-ending; in a word, I fly to repose myself on the bosom of my God.
    • 1881–1882, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, London; Paris: Cassell & Company, published 14 November 1883, OCLC 702939134:
      The wind blowing steady and gentle from the south, there was no contrariety between that and the current, and the billows rose and fell unbroken.
    • 1998, Walter E. Rex, Diderot's Counterpoints:
      This book puts forward a clearer understanding of Diderot's perplexities by taking into account the dynamics of his thought processes, especially the mode, peculiar to him, of thinking via contrarieties.
    • 2011, Tim Blanning, "The reinvention of the night", Times Literary Supplement, 21 Sep.:
      At the heart of his argument is the contrariety between day and night, light and dark.