Dictionary.com

continual

[ kuhn-tin-yoo-uhl ]
/ kənˈtɪn yu əl /
Save This Word!

adjective
of regular or frequent recurrence; often repeated; very frequent: continual bus departures.
happening without interruption or cessation; continuous in time.
QUIZ
ARE YOU A TRUE BLUE CHAMPION OF THESE "BLUE" SYNONYMS?
We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.
Question 1 of 8
Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Origin of continual

First recorded in 1300–50; from Medieval Latin continuālis, equivalent to Latin continu(us) “uninterrupted” + -ālis adjective suffix; replacing Middle English continuel, from Middle French, from Latin, as above; see continuous, -al1

words often confused with continual

Although usage guides generally advise that continual may be used only to mean “intermittent” and continuous only to mean “uninterrupted,” the words are used interchangeably in all kinds of speech and writing with no distinction in meaning: The president's life is under continual (or continuous ) scrutiny. Continuous (or continual ) bursts of laughter punctuated her testimony. The adverbs continually and continuously are also used interchangeably. To make a clear distinction between what occurs at short intervals and what proceeds without interruption, writers sometimes use the contrasting terms intermittent ( intermittent losses of power during the storm ) and uninterrupted ( uninterrupted reception during the storm ) or similar expressions. Continuous is not interchangeable with continual in the sense of spatial relationship: a continuous (not continual ) series of passages.

OTHER WORDS FROM continual

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH continual

continual , continuous (see confusables note at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use continual in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for continual

continual
/ (kənˈtɪnjʊəl) /

adjective
recurring frequently, esp at regular intervals
occurring without interruption; continuous in time

Derived forms of continual

continuality or continualness, nouncontinually, adverb

Word Origin for continual

C14: from Old French continuel, from Latin continuus uninterrupted, from continēre to hold together, contain

undefined continual

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
FEEDBACK