English Dictionary

Pioneers in dictionary publishing since 1819

English Dictionary

contrary  (ˈkɒntrərɪ



  1. opposed in nature, position, etc   ⇒ contrary ideas
  2.   (kənˈtrɛərɪ)  perverse; obstinate
  3. (esp of wind) adverse; unfavourable
  4. (of plant parts) situated at right angles to each other
  5. (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 (sense 2, contradictory (sense 3


(plural) -ries
  1. the exact opposite (esp in the phrase to the contrary)
  2. See on the contrary

  3. either of two exactly opposite objects, facts, or qualities
  4. (logic) a statement that cannot be true when a given statement is true

adverb (usually followed by to)

  1. in an opposite or unexpected way   ⇒ contrary to usual belief
  2. in conflict (with) or contravention (of)   ⇒ contrary to nature

Derived Forms

conˈtrariness  noun

Word Origin

C14: from Latin contrārius opposite, from contrā against


View thesaurus entry
= opposite, different, opposed, clashing, counter, reverse, differing, adverse, contradictory, inconsistent, diametrically opposed, antithetical
= perverse, difficult, awkward, wayward, intractable, wilful, obstinate, cussed (informal), stroppy (British) (slang), cantankerous, disobliging, balky, unaccommodating, froward (archaic), thrawn (Scottish) ( & Northern England) (dialect), hostile, antagonistic, arsey (British) (Australian) ( & New Zealand) (slang)

Translations for 'contrary'

  • British English: contrary You use on the contrary when you are contradicting what has just been said.People just don't do things like that. — On the contrary, they do them all the time.ˈkɒntrərɪ NOUN
  • Arabic: مُعَاكِس
  • Brazilian Portuguese: contrário
  • Chinese: 反面
  • Croatian: naprotiv
  • Czech: opak
  • Danish: modsat
  • Dutch: tegendeel
  • European Spanish: contrario contraria
  • Finnish: vastakohta
  • French: contraire
  • German: Gegenteil
  • Greek: αντίθετο
  • Italian: contrario
  • Japanese: 正反対
  • Korean: 반대
  • Norwegian: motsetning
  • Polish: przeciwieństwo
  • Portuguese: contrário
  • Romanian: din contră
  • Russian: противоположность
  • Spanish: contrario contraria
  • Swedish: motsats
  • Thai: ในทางตรงกันข้าม
  • Turkish: karşıt
  • Ukrainian: протилежність
  • Vietnamese: điều trái ngược
  • British English: contrary Ideas, attitudes, or reactions that are contrary to each other are completely different from each other. ADJECTIVEThis view is contrary to the aims of critical social research for a number of reasons.
  • Brazilian Portuguese: contrário
  • Chinese: 相对立的观点、态度、反应相对對立的
  • European Spanish: terco terca
  • French: contraire
  • German: gegensätzlich zu
  • Italian: contrario contraria
  • Japanese: 反対の
  • Korean: ~에 반하는
  • Portuguese: contrário contrária
  • Spanish: terco terca

Example Sentences Including 'contrary'

On the contrary , it's multiplied by the publicity given to the affair.
Harcourt, Palma Double Deceit
If the guards hadn't been given any orders to the contrary.
Jennifer Fallon TREASON KEEP (2001)
Appearances to the contrary , Dr. Simms had the kindest, most compassionate manner Maggie could wish for, without being soft.
Peter Robinson AFTERMATH (2001)


Log in to comment on this word.