• synonyms


  1. of or of the nature of a continent.
  2. (usually initial capital letter) of or relating to the mainland of Europe, to Europeans, or to European customs and attitudes.
  3. (initial capital letter) of or relating to the 13 original American colonies during and immediately after the American Revolution.
  4. of or relating to the continent of North America.
Show More
  1. (initial capital letter) a soldier of the Continental Army in the American Revolution.
  2. a piece of paper currency issued by the Continental Congress during the American Revolution.
  3. a small amount: advice that's not worth a continental.
  4. an inhabitant of a continent.
  5. (usually initial capital letter) an inhabitant of the mainland of Europe.
Show More

Origin of continental

First recorded in 1750–60; continent + -al1
Related formscon·ti·nen·tal·ly, adverbnon·con·ti·nen·tal, adjective, nounpre·con·ti·nen·tal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for continental

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Here a man offers a thousand dollars—a thousand dollars, in Continental rags!

    Old News

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • The essence of the continental system is its gigantic scale.

  • I have said before, I think, that I was the only officer of the Continental line in the whole party.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • Get me my Continental Bradshaw out of my dressing-bag: I'm no use here.

  • This cannot truly be said of the greatest of their continental models or rivals.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

British Dictionary definitions for continental


  1. of or characteristic of Europe, excluding the British Isles
  2. of or relating to the 13 original British North American colonies during and immediately after the War of American Independence
Show More
  1. (sometimes not capital) an inhabitant of Europe, excluding the British Isles
  2. a regular soldier of the rebel army during the War of American Independence
  3. US history a currency note issued by the Continental Congress
Show More
Derived FormsContinentalism, nounContinentalist, 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 continental


1818 as a purely geographical term, from continent + -al (1). In reference to the European mainland (as opposed to Great Britain), recorded from 1760. Continental breakfast (the kind eaten on the continent as opposed to the kind eaten in Britain) is attested by 1855. In reference to the British American colonies from 1774; the Continental Congress is attested from 1775; continental divide in use by 1865; continental rise in geology from 1959; continental slope from 1907. Continental shelf first attested 1888.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper