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From Middle French contravenir (French contrevenir), from Latin contraveniō.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌkɒn.tɹəˈviːn/
  • (file)


contravene (third-person singular simple present contravenes, present participle contravening, simple past and past participle contravened)

  1. (transitive) To act contrary to an order; to fail to conform to a regulation or obligation.
    Synonyms: breach, break, infringe, violate
    • 1648, Samuel Rutherford, chapter 69, in A Survey of the Spirituall Antichrist[1], London: Andrew Crooke, page 141:
      [] nothing is a commandement, or a commanded dutie but that which if we contravene, it maketh us guilty of sin before God,
    • 1713, Daniel Defoe, Considerations upon the eighth and ninth articles of the treaty of commerce and navigation[2], London: J. Baker, page 8:
      [] this Article directly contravenes the Treaty with Portugal []
    • 1855, Frederick Douglass, “. Appendix.”, in My Bondage and My Freedom. [], New York, Auburn, N.Y.: Miller, Orton & Mulligan [], →OCLC, part II (Life as a Freeman), page 436:
      I have shown that slavery is wicked [] in that it contravenes the laws of eternal justice, and tramples in the dust all the humane and heavenly precepts of the New Testament.
    • 1872, George Eliot, Middlemarch[3], London: William Blackwood, Volume 3, Book 5, Chapter 45, p. 44:
      [] the other medical visitors having a consultative influence, but no power to contravene Lydgate’s ultimate decisions;
    • 1919, Henry Blake Fuller, chapter 2, in Bertram Cope’s Year[4], Chicago: Ralph Fletcher Seymour, page 19:
      It was a construction in wood, with manifold “features” suggestive of the villa, the bungalow, the chateau, the palace; it united all tastes and contravened all conventions.
    • 2012 May 24, Adam Gabbatt, “Canada student protests erupt into political crisis with mass arrests”, in the Guardian[5]:
      Some legal experts argue that the bill contravenes Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms. Montreal constitutional lawyer Julius Grey told the Vancouver Sun that Bill 78 was "flagrantly unconstitutional".
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To deny the truth of something.
    Synonyms: contradict, controvert, dispute, gainsay
    • 1653, William Birchley, The Christian Moderator, Part 3, London: Richard Lowndes, p. 7,[6]
      [] to make the contravening of Doctrines, to be capitall, before they be fully proved, is prejudiciall to that liberty, without which none can justify himself before God or Man:
    • 1794, Gilbert Wakefield, An Examination of The Age of Reason[7], London, page 38:
      To contravene positions, that have been discussed again and again by writers of the first genius and erudition, and to disparage the genuineness of the bible histories wholly and indiscriminately, without some precision of investigation, some specific allegations, founded on the report of authentic documents, is intolerable arrogance []
    • 1803, Robert Charles Dallas, The History of the Maroons[8], London: Longman and Rees, Volume 1, Letter 6, p. 168:
      That the detention of the troops was a wise measure, is not to be contravened;
    • 1915, William Henry Cobb, chapter 5, in The Meaning of Christian Unity[9], New York: Crowell, page 135:
      This is a large octavo of more than five hundred pages, a cool, scientific collection of facts that cannot be contravened, leading up to the inescapable conclusion []

Related terms[edit]