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From Middle English contrarie, compare French contraire, from Old French contraire, from Latin contrarius (opposite, opposed, contrary), from contra (against).



contrary (comparative more contrary, superlative most contrary)

  1. Opposite; in an opposite direction; in opposition; adverse.
    contrary winds
    • Bible, Leviticus xxvi. 21
      And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me []
    • Shakespeare
      We have lost our labour; they are gone a contrary way.
  2. Opposed; contradictory; inconsistent.
    What may be "politically correct" could be contrary to the teachings of Jesus.
    • Whewell
      The doctrine of the earth's motion appeared to be contrary to the sacred Scripture.
  3. Given to opposition; perverse; wayward.
    a contrary disposition; a contrary child

Derived terms[edit]



contrary (comparative more contrary, superlative most contrary)

  1. Contrarily


contrary (plural contraries)

  1. The opposite.
    • Shakespeare
      No contraries hold more antipathy / Than I and such a knave.
  2. One of a pair of propositions that cannot both be simultaneously true.
    • I. Watts
      If two universals differ in quality, they are contraries; as, every vine is a tree; no vine is a tree. These can never be both true together; but they may be both false.


Derived terms[edit]



contrary (third-person singular simple present contraries, present participle contrarying, simple past and past participle contraried)

  1. (obsolete) To oppose; to frustrate.
  2. (obsolete) To impugn.
  3. (obsolete) To contradict (someone or something).
  4. (obsolete) To do the opposite of (someone or something).
  5. (obsolete) To act inconsistently or perversely; to act in opposition to.
  6. (obsolete) To argue; to debate; to uphold an opposite opinion.
  7. (obsolete) To be self-contradictory; to become reversed.


Related terms[edit]