[ kon-trer-ee; for 5 also kuhn-trair-ee ]
See synonyms for: contrarycontrariescontrarilycontrariness on

  1. opposite in nature or character; diametrically or mutually opposed: contrary to fact; contrary propositions.

  2. opposite in direction or position: departures in contrary directions.

  1. being the opposite one of two: I will make the contrary choice.

  2. unfavorable or adverse.

  3. perverse; stubbornly opposed or willful.

noun,plural con·trar·ies.
  1. something that is contrary or opposite: to prove the contrary of a statement.

  2. either of two contrary things.

  1. 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.”

  1. in opposition; oppositely; counter: to act contrary to one's own principles.

Idioms about contrary

  1. by contraries, contrary to expectation.

  2. on the contrary,

    • in opposition to what has been stated.

    • from another point of view: On the contrary, there may be some who would agree with you.

  1. to the contrary,

    • to the opposite effect: I believe he is innocent, whatever they may say to the contrary.

    • to a different effect.

Origin of contrary

First recorded in 1200–50; Middle English contrarie, from Anglo-French, from Latin contrārius; equivalent to contra1 + -ary

synonym study For contrary

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.

Other words for contrary

Opposites for contrary

Other words from contrary

  • con·trar·i·ly [kon-trer-uh-lee, kuhn-trair-], /ˈkɒn trɛr ə li, kənˈtrɛər-/, adverb
  • con·trar·i·ness, noun
  • qua·si-con·trar·i·ly, adverb
  • qua·si-con·trar·y, adjective

Words Nearby contrary Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use contrary in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for contrary


/ (ˈkɒntrərɪ) /

  1. opposed in nature, position, etc: contrary ideas

  2. (kənˈtrɛərɪ) perverse; obstinate

  1. (esp of wind) adverse; unfavourable

  2. (of plant parts) situated at right angles to each other

  3. 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 (def. 2), contradictory (def. 3)

nounplural -ries
  1. the exact opposite (esp in the phrase to the contrary)

  2. on the contrary quite the reverse; not at all

  1. either of two exactly opposite objects, facts, or qualities

  2. logic a statement that cannot be true when a given statement is true

adverb(usually foll by to)
  1. in an opposite or unexpected way: contrary to usual belief

  2. in conflict (with) or contravention (of): contrary to nature

Origin of contrary

C14: from Latin contrārius opposite, from contrā against

Derived forms of contrary

  • contrariness, 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with contrary


see on the contrary; to the contrary.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.