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[kon-trer-ee; for 5 also kuh n-trair-ee] /ˈkɒn trɛr i; for 5 also kənˈtrɛər i/
opposite in nature or character; diametrically or mutually opposed:
contrary to fact; contrary propositions.
opposite in direction or position:
departures in contrary directions.
being the opposite one of two:
I will make the contrary choice.
unfavorable or adverse.
perverse; stubbornly opposed or willful.
noun, plural contraries.
something that is contrary or opposite:
to prove the contrary of a statement.
either of two contrary things.
Logic. a proposition so related to another proposition that both may not be true though both may be false, as with the propositions “All judges are male” and “No judges are male.”.
in opposition; oppositely; counter:
to act contrary to one's own principles.
by contraries, contrary to expectation.
on the contrary,
  1. in opposition to what has been stated.
  2. from another point of view:
    On the contrary, there may be some who would agree with you.
to the contrary,
  1. to the opposite effect:
    I believe he is innocent, whatever they may say to the contrary.
  2. to a different effect.
Origin of contrary
1200-50; Middle English contrarie < Anglo-French < Latin contrārius. See contra1, -ary
Related forms
[kon-trer-uh-lee, kuh n-trair-] /ˈkɒn trɛr ə li, kənˈtrɛər-/ (Show IPA),
contrariness, noun
quasi-contrarily, adverb
quasi-contrary, adjective
1. contradictory, conflicting, counter. 4. unfriendly, hostile. 5. intractable, obstinate, headstrong, stubborn, pig-headed.
4. favorable. 5. obliging, complaisant.
Synonym Study
1. See opposite. 4.Contrary, adverse both describe something that opposes. Contrary conveys an idea of something impersonal and objective whose opposition happens to be unfavorable: contrary winds. Adverse suggests something more personally unfriendly or even hostile; it emphasizes the idea of the resulting misfortune to that which is opposed: The judge rendered a decision adverse to the defendant. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for contrariness
Historical Examples
  • The young were thoughtless, they had the root of evil in them, they flew into frivolity from contrariness.

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • And also he's a revolutionist because of the contrariness in him that artists usually have.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht
  • Some one's contrariness is responsible for nine-tenths of life's tragedies.

    Oklahoma Sunshine

    Freeman E. (Freeman Edwin) Miller
  • What contrariness has set you so intense against your own argument?

    The Crisis, Complete Winston Churchill
  • For contrariness he was more than I have ever had to deal with.

    The Celebrity, Complete Winston Churchill
  • After such failures he would be downcast on account of Hans's contrariness.

    Clever Hans Oskar Pfungst
  • I know she's awake and it's only contrariness as makes her pretend not to be.

    The Eldest Son Archibald Marshall
  • Now, Miss Judy's hope was lost through the dorminica's contrariness.

    Oldfield Nancy Huston Banks
  • This contrariness grows upon you apace, and must be checked at once.

    Christmas Entertainments Alice Maude Kellogg
  • But her beauty, which was radiant in the morning light, took the contrariness from her words.

    The Voyage Out Virginia Woolf
British Dictionary definitions for contrariness


opposed in nature, position, etc: contrary ideas
(kənˈtrɛərɪ). perverse; obstinate
(esp of wind) adverse; unfavourable
(of plant parts) situated at right angles to each other
(logic) (of a pair of propositions) related so that they cannot both be true at once, although they may both be false together Compare subcontrary (sense 2), contradictory (sense 3)
noun (pl) -ries
the exact opposite (esp in the phrase to the contrary)
on the contrary, quite the reverse; not at all
either of two exactly opposite objects, facts, or qualities
(logic) a statement that cannot be true when a given statement is true
adverb (usually foll by to)
in an opposite or unexpected way: contrary to usual belief
in conflict (with) or contravention (of): contrary to nature
Derived Forms
contrariness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin contrārius opposite, from contrā against
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 contrariness

late 14c., "state of being contrary," from contrary + -ness. Meaning "fondness of opposition" is from 1640s.



mid-14c., from Anglo-French contrarie, from Latin contrarius "opposite, opposed," from contra "against" (see contra).

If we take the statement All men are mortal, its contrary is Not all men are mortal, its converse is All mortal beings are men, & its opposite is No men are mortal. The contrary, however, does not exclude the opposite, but includes it as its most extreme form. Thus This is white has only one opposite, This is black, but many contraries, as This is not white, This is coloured, This is dirty, This is black; & whether the last form is called the contrary, or more emphatically the opposite, is usually indifferent. But to apply the opposite to a mere contrary (e.g. to I did not hit him in relation to I hit him, which has no opposite), or to the converse (e.g. to He hit me in relation to I hit him, to which it is neither contrary nor opposite), is a looseness that may easily result in misunderstanding; the temptation to go wrong is intelligible when it is remembered that with certain types of sentence (A exceeds B) the converse & the opposite are identical (B exceeds A). [Fowler]
As a noun from late 13c. Related: Contrarily; contrariwise.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with contrariness
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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