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[kuh n-tin-yoo-uh s] /kənˈtɪn yu əs/
uninterrupted in time; without cessation:
continuous coughing during the concert.
being in immediate connection or spatial relationship:
a continuous series of blasts; a continuous row of warehouses.
Grammar. progressive (def 7).
Origin of continuous
1635-45; < Latin continuus uninterrupted, equivalent to contin(ēre) to hold together, retain (con- con- + -tinēre, combining form of tenēre to hold; cf. contain) + -uus deverbal adj. suffix; cf. -ous, contiguous
Related forms
continuously, adverb
continuousness, noun
noncontinuous, adjective
noncontinuously, adverb
noncontinuousness, noun
quasi-continuous, adjective
quasi-continuously, adverb
semicontinuous, adjective
semicontinuously, adverb
uncontinuous, adjective
uncontinuously, adverb
Can be confused
continual, continuous, intermittent (see usage note at continual)
Usage note
See continual. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for continuous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She always thought of seventy-nine as one continuous November.

  • Porter viewed this continuous performance with silent skepticism.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • This report was followed by another, and yet another, and now by one continuous volley.

    Ridgeway Scian Dubh
  • At its highest speed this ticking changed into a continuous sound of trickling.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • The thunder was not loud, but it kept up a continuous muttering and rumbling.

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
British Dictionary definitions for continuous


prolonged without interruption; unceasing: a continuous noise
in an unbroken series or pattern
(maths) (of a function or curve) changing gradually in value as the variable changes in value. A function f is continuous if at every value a of the independent variable the difference between f(x) and f(a) approaches zero as x approaches a Compare discontinuous (sense 2) See also limit (sense 5)
(statistics) (of a variable) having a continuum of possible values so that its distribution requires integration rather than summation to determine its cumulative probability Compare discrete (sense 3)
(grammar) another word for progressive (sense 8)
Derived Forms
continuously, adverb
continuousness, noun
Usage note
Both continual and continuous can be used to say that something continues without interruption, but only continual can correctly be used to say that something keeps happening repeatedly
Word Origin
C17: from Latin continuus, from continēre to hold together, contain
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
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Word Origin and History for continuous

1640s, from French continueus or directly from Latin continuus "uninterrupted, hanging together" (see continue). Related: Continuously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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continuous in Medicine

continuous con·tin·u·ous (kən-tĭn'yōō-əs)

  1. Uninterrupted in time, sequence, substance, or extent.

  2. Attached together in repeated units.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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continuous in Science
  1. Relating to a line or curve that extends without a break or irregularity.

  2. A function in which changes, however small, to any x-value result in small changes to the corresponding y-value, without sudden jumps. Technically, a function is continuous at the point c if it meets the following condition: for any positive number ε, however small, there exists a positive number δ such that for all x within the distance δ from c, the value of f(x) will be within the distance ε from f(c). Polynomials, exponential functions, and trigonometric functions are examples of continuous functions.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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