from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Opposed, as in character or purpose: contrary opinions; acts that are contrary to our code of ethics.
  • adj. Opposite in direction or position: Our boat took a course contrary to theirs. See Synonyms at opposite.
  • adj. Music Moving in the opposite direction at a fixed interval: playing scales in contrary motion.
  • adj. Adverse; unfavorable: a contrary wind.
  • adj. Given to recalcitrant behavior; willful or perverse.
  • n. Something that is opposite or contrary.
  • n. Either of two opposing or contrary things: "Truth is perhaps . . . a dynamic compound of opposites, savage contraries for a moment conjoined” ( A. Bartlett Giamatti).
  • n. Logic A proposition related to another in such a way that if the latter is true, the former must be false, but if the latter is false, the former is not necessarily true.
  • adv. In an opposite direction or manner; counter: The judge ruled contrary to all precedent in the case.
  • idiom by contraries Obsolete In opposition to what is expected.
  • idiom on the contrary In opposition to what has been stated or what is expected: I'm not sick; on the contrary, I'm in the peak of health.
  • idiom to the contrary To the opposite effect from what has been stated or what is expected: Despite what you say to the contary, this contract is fair.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. opposed in nature
  • adj. strongly dissimilar
  • adv. Contrarily
  • n. The opposite.
  • n. One of a pair of propositions that cannot both be simultaneously true.
  • v. To oppose; to frustrate.
  • v. To impugn.
  • v. To contradict (someone or something).
  • v. To do the opposite of (someone or something).
  • v. To act inconsistently or perversely; to act in opposition to.
  • v. To argue; to debate; to uphold an opposite opinion.
  • v. To be self-contradictory; to become reversed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Opposite; in an opposite direction; in opposition; adverse.
  • adj. Opposed; contradictory; repugnant; inconsistent.
  • adj. Given to opposition; perverse; forward; wayward.
  • adj. Affirming the opposite; so opposed as to destroy each other.
  • n. A thing that is of contrary or opposite qualities.
  • n. An opponent; an enemy.
  • n. the opposite; a proposition, fact, or condition incompatible with another. See Converse, n., 1.
  • n. See Contraries.
  • transitive v. To contradict or oppose; to thwart.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Opposite; opposed; at the opposite point or in an opposite direction.
  • In botany, at right angles to: as, a silique compressed contrary to the dissepiment (that is, in a direction at right angles to it, in distinction from a parallel direction).
  • Extremely unlike; the most unlike of anything within the same class: thus, hot and cold, up and down, sage and fool, heaven and hell, are contrary terms.
  • Adverse; hostile; opposing; antagonistic; opposite; conflicting.
  • Given to contradiction; acting in opposition; captious; perverse; intractable; unaccommodating.
  • Wilful, Untoward, etc. See wayward.
  • n. One of a pair of objects placed at opposite points or seen in opposite directions; an opposite.
  • n. One of a pair of characters, propositions, statements, or terms, the most different possible within the same general sphere or class. See I., 3.
  • n. A contradiction; a denial.
  • n. An adversary.
  • In a contrary way; with a contrary result.
  • In heraldry, oppositely; contrariwise: said of two bearings each of which is in some sense the reverse of the other.
  • To oppose; contradict.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. very opposed in nature or character or purpose
  • adj. resistant to guidance or discipline
  • n. a logical relation such that two propositions are contraries if both cannot be true but both can be false
  • n. exact opposition
  • n. a relation of direct opposition
  • adj. in an opposing direction
  • adj. of words or propositions so related that both cannot be true but both may be false


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English contrarie, from Anglo-Norman, from Latin contrārius : contrā, against.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English contrarie, also contraire, from Old French contraire, from Latin contrarius ("opposite, opposed, contrary"), from contra ("against").


  • 'That as to what they had been advised, viz. to enter into any treaty, contrary to the free government right, which they had obtained, and which they still enjoyed, they considered it as _contrary to God, their honor, and their safety_.'

    The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. VIII

  • But whether it should or not, I am desirous that these words in the introduction to the extracts, vizt., — and as it has a malicious appear - ance to insinuate to the contrary — should be changed for the following, vizt., — hut as U has heen maliciously insinu - ated to the contrary* As the bearer waits I cannot add save, that I am with much regard, d 'S',

    Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

  • On the contrary, if there were any of these compounded Bodies, in which the Nature of one Element did not prevail over the rest, but they were all equally mix'd, and a match one for the other; then one of them would not abate the Force of the other, any more than its own Force is abated by it, but they would work upon one another with equal Power, and the Operation of any one of them would not be more conspicuous than that of the rest; and this Body would be far from being like to any one of the Elements, but would be as if it had nothing _contrary_ to its

    The Improvement of Human Reason Exhibited in the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdhan

  • Again, the term contrary to nature does not mean "unnatural" in the sense of producing discord and confusion.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10: Mass Music-Newman

  • Your belief to the contrary is also shockingly false.

    Matthew Yglesias » Ungovernable America

  • Apparently, Steve himself has something to do with the US software industry but still tries to involve others in a more general debate over Keynes, while Gautam on the contrary is a student in economics, with some affection for Indian problems … thus inclined to study all theories, yet who makes an effort to visualize the more concrete problems in the industry.

    Economic Education, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • It added that diplomats also saw reports of Yemen government officials "present during these attacks," which it called "contrary to the commitments that President Saleh has made to protect the right of Yemeni citizens to gather peacefully to express their views."

    Violence marks 'Friday of Rage' across Yemen

  • Any notion to the contrary is an excuse to be a relativist, vacillating, spineless coward that wants to blame their actions on anything but their conscious ability to make choices.ken. mcloud - my reference to the natural selection process and homosexuality - I was referring to the hypothetical consideration that if all humans at a given point of time, were solely homosexual, the race would cease to exist.

    On Same-Sex Couples and Catfish Derbies

  • Deluding myself to the contrary is an indulgence in gross stupidity.

    The Long-term Budget Outlook, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • Proof to the contrary is a recent (2003) work of Ed Witten in which he used twistor math to solve certain problems in string theory.

    Are Changes Brewing and How Does the Mind Fit In?


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