V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary
Definition: 1. likely to cause an argument or controversy; 2. intending or likely to argue or fight; 3. hostile, aggressive, tense, and quarrelsome
Synonyms: belligerent, argumentative, controversial, quarrelsome, combative, antagonistic, aggressive, hostile, litigious
Antonyms: agreeable, passive, nice
Tips: The related word contend means "to argue that something is the truth." Contentious describes things that are likely to cause such an argument or an argumentative and tense situation. Do not be tricked by the root content; there is no content (happiness) in a contentious situation--there is actually contention (disagreement). You may have heard the phrase "point of contention." This means "a point of argument or disagreement." In a contentious (disagreeable) argument, there are numerous points of contention (disagreement) to contend (deal, try to prove true) with.
His contentious remarks regularly caused gossip and controversy among staff members. (controversial, disagreeable)
Politics is a contentious subject in our house, so we don't discuss it much. (argumentative, controversial)
In order to get a good story, the reporter asked the politician contentious questions to try to provoke him. (argumentative, antagonistic)
It was a rather contentious meeting; several arguments ensued. (hostile, quarrelsome)
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