Definition of contentious in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈten(t)SHəs/


1Causing or likely to cause an argument; controversial: a contentious issue
More example sentences
  • The most contentious issue is likely to be a provision encouraging commissioners to facilitate voluntary co-operation by witness to be heard in private.
  • Of course controversies and contentious issues have emerged.
  • As I stated in the opening paragraph of my article, the issue is contentious and controversial.
controversial, disputable, debatable, disputed, open to debate, vexed
1.1Involving heated argument: the socioeconomic plan had been the subject of contentious debate
More example sentences
  • Citizenship is centred on the notion of autonomous individuals - by definition, adults - making choices about who runs the government and engaging in contentious debate.
  • We're covering all sides of this very contentious debate.
  • The development of regulations and guidelines for the emerging technologies has led to a contentious public debate about genetic engineering.
heated, vehement, fierce, violent, intense, impassioned
1.2(Of a person) given to arguing or provoking argument: a contentious amateur politician who has offended minority groups
More example sentences
  • A small, dark, contentious people known as the Picts held sway over the islands until the eighth and ninth centuries, when Viking invaders arrived.
  • I don't like breaches and I am not a particularly contentious person at all, but if my back is against the wall I can certainly muster all my inner forces.
  • At about the same time, the Pentagon's exultation of a contentious personality reflected an increasingly codified belief in speed.
1.3 Law Relating to or involving differences between contending parties.
Example sentences
  • It is not easy for third parties to intervene in bilateral contentious litigation.
  • My Lord, you will be aware of the contentious nature of this litigation between the parties.
  • They are inapplicable to orders made by a court of unlimited jurisdiction in the course of contentious litigation.



Pronunciation: /kənˈten(t)SHəslē/
Example sentences
  • The favoured date for the foundation of St Peter's is AD 627, even though one commentator contentiously describes this as ‘the stuff of legend’.
  • It portrays the West falsely and contentiously.
  • Or was he, more contentiously, acting as an agent for someone else?


Pronunciation: /kənˈten(t)SHəsnəs/
Example sentences
  • The contentiousness also reached Washington, where the Justice Department approved the plan although staff lawyers concluded that it diluted minority voting rights.
  • The concern is not with the way scientists and geographers parcel out land in manageable pieces, although this is where the contentiousness surrounding bioregionalism resides.
  • Despite the contentiousness of her vacation behavior, it is still my opinion that she should have been allowed to continue as a newscaster in Youngstown.


Late Middle English: from Old French contentieux, from Latin contentiosus, from content- 'striven', from the verb contendere.

Words that rhyme with contentious

conscientious, licentious, pretentious, sententious, tendentious

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·ten·tious

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