Try Our Apps


Words You've Been Using Wrong


[kuh n-ten-shuh s] /kənˈtɛn ʃəs/
tending to argument or strife; quarrelsome:
a contentious crew.
causing, involving, or characterized by argument or controversy:
contentious issues.
Law. pertaining to causes between contending or opposing parties.
Origin of contentious
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English contenciose < Latin contentiōsus, equivalent to contenti(ō) contention + -ōsus -ous
Related forms
contentiously, adverb
contentiousness, noun
noncontentious, adjective
noncontentiously, adverb
overcontentious, adjective
overcontentiously, adverb
overcontentiousness, noun
uncontentious, adjective
uncontentiously, adverb
uncontentiousness, noun
1. disputatious, argumentative. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for contentious
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Suppose we call it the contentious or ambitious—would the term be suitable?

    The Republic Plato
  • There is nothing to indicate that he was contentious by nature.

    Hymns and Hymnwriters of Denmark Jens Christian Aaberg
  • Of the contentious scribes He asked: "What question ye with them?"

    Jesus the Christ James Edward Talmage
  • Let them beware of the first approach of a contentious spirit.

    The Young Maiden

    A. B. (Artemas Bowers) Muzzey
  • Then, he was trying not to be too contentious, but was irritated into retorting.

    The Trail of the Hawk Sinclair Lewis
British Dictionary definitions for contentious


tending to argue or quarrel
causing or characterized by dispute; controversial
(law) relating to a cause or legal business that is contested, esp a probate matter
Derived Forms
contentiously, adverb
contentiousness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for contentious

c.1500, from Middle French contentieux, from Latin contentiosus "obstinate, quarrelsome," from contentionem (see contend). Related: Contentiously; contentiousness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for contentious

Word Value for contentious

Scrabble Words With Friends