Definition of contradiction in English:

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Pronunciation: /kɒntrəˈdɪkʃ(ə)n/


1A combination of statements, ideas, or features which are opposed to one another: the proposed new system suffers from a set of internal contradictions
More example sentences
  • And the judge very obviously was struggling with the clear contradiction between those two ideas today.
  • Neither side has a monopoly on either good ideas or glaring contradictions.
  • The mass of contradictions in statements means someone is lying, he said.
1.1A situation in which inconsistent elements are present: the paradox of using force to overcome force is a real contradiction
More example sentences
  • His complex character is presented as a contradiction, as he despises cheats but finds many ways throughout the film to prove that he is one.
  • In the case of Henry Moore, this presents an immediate contradiction.
  • The new antithesis forms out of elements of the original contradiction that didn't make it into the synthesis.
1.2 [mass noun] The statement of a position opposite to one already made: the second sentence appears to be in flat contradiction of the first [count noun]: the experiment provides a contradiction of the hypothesis
More example sentences
  • We'll arrive at the rather obvious contradiction in this position in one moment.
  • As an observer, I can testify that the comments made by these powerful and successful people were in flat contradiction to the caricature.
  • They've already argued that these two statements are in bold contradiction.
denial, refutation, rebuttal, countering, counterstatement, opposite;
formal gainsaying
rare confutation


contradiction in terms

A statement or group of words associating incompatible objects or ideas: she has demonstrated that the term ‘student-athlete’ isn’t always a contradiction in terms
More example sentences
  • Since we do not know how to stand outside the universe - the very idea is almost a contradiction in terms - the only evidence we can use comes from within it.
  • Some people might think of judgment and forgiveness as incompatible, or as a contradiction in terms.
  • The idea of a real Englishman is almost a contradiction in terms, like talking about a real theme park or a real golf club.
conflict, clash, disagreement, opposition, inconsistency, lack of congruence, incongruity, incongruousness, mismatch, variance;
paradox, contradiction in terms
rare antinomy, aporia, antilogy


Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin contradictio(n-), from the verb contradicere (see contradict).

  • verdict from Middle English:

    After the Norman Conquest, French became the language of the law in England and many French legal terms made their way into English. Verdict came immediately from French, but goes back to Latin verus ‘true’, source also of verify (Middle English), veritable (Late Middle English), and very (Middle English), and dicere ‘to say’, from which addict (mid 16th century) originally ‘assigned by decree’ and so bound to something; condition (Middle English) speaking with, agreement; contradiction (Late Middle English) ‘speaking against’; dictate (early 17th century); predict (late 16th century) ‘speaking in advance’; and numerous other words derive.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: contra|dic¦tion

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