• synonyms


[kuh n-ten-shuh s]
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  1. tending to argument or strife; quarrelsome: a contentious crew.
  2. causing, involving, or characterized by argument or controversy: contentious issues.
  3. Law. pertaining to causes between contending or opposing parties.
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Origin of contentious

1400–50; late Middle English contenciose < Latin contentiōsus, equivalent to contenti(ō) contention + -ōsus -ous
Related formscon·ten·tious·ly, adverbcon·ten·tious·ness, nounnon·con·ten·tious, adjectivenon·con·ten·tious·ly, adverbo·ver·con·ten·tious, adjectiveo·ver·con·ten·tious·ly, adverbo·ver·con·ten·tious·ness, nounun·con·ten·tious, adjectiveun·con·ten·tious·ly, adverbun·con·ten·tious·ness, noun


See more synonyms for contentious on Thesaurus.com
1. disputatious, argumentative.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for contentious

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Suppose we call it the contentious or ambitious—would the term be suitable?

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

  • 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


  1. tending to argue or quarrel
  2. causing or characterized by dispute; controversial
  3. law relating to a cause or legal business that is contested, esp a probate matter
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Derived Formscontentiously, adverbcontentiousness, 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

Word Origin and History for contentious


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper