Definition of continuous in US English:



  • 1Forming an unbroken whole; without interruption.

    ‘the whole performance is enacted in one continuous movement’
    • ‘The department of local disaster relief blamed the damaging natural catastrophe on continuous rain in the area in recent days.’
    • ‘The residents in the area were faced with continuous flooding on many occasions over a long number of years.’
    • ‘Neither should life be frittered away because of endless procrastination and continuous introspection.’
    • ‘This area had been in continuous occupation for over 1,000 years.’
    • ‘This position goes against all appearances, which constrain our senses to believe that the sun is in continuous movement around the earth.’
    • ‘Several traffic signals have been removed and there is continuous, easy movement.’
    • ‘And there is no proper mechanism in place to monitor the fire safety measures in buildings on a continuous basis.’
    • ‘A comprehensive assessment and continuous monitoring of the effects should be undertaken.’
    • ‘For the purposes of this book, an urban area is defined as a single continuous and contiguous area of urban development.’
    • ‘But the airport is no longer inactive during the afternoons, as there is continuous movement of flights.’
    • ‘There will also be environmental monitoring around the works including additional continuous air monitoring.’
    • ‘At the time of tooth bud formation, each tooth begins a continuous movement outward in relation to the bone.’
    • ‘Cotton is a crop that requires continuous monitoring for its nutrient requirement.’
    • ‘People often lose weight because they have difficulty eating and burn more calories due to the continuous movement.’
    • ‘But perhaps it still admits of a solution which does not require us to deny the possibility of continuous movement.’
    • ‘People with Huntington's disease need to have a high calorie diet because they burn more calories with their continuous movement.’
    • ‘The continuous monitoring of the lake ecology reveals far-reaching changes in its environment.’
    • ‘A narrow band of waterside willows is continuous and is bordered on our side by a flat area 20 yards wide, then the floodbank.’
    • ‘He pulled his wand out of his robes and began to concentrate and wave it around with a continuous wrist movement.’
    • ‘During that offensive, there were nine days of continuous bombing over a 60 square mile area.’
    continual, uninterrupted, unbroken, constant, ceaseless, incessant, steady, sustained, solid, continuing, ongoing, unceasing, without a break, permanent, non-stop, round-the-clock, always-on, persistent, unremitting, relentless, unrelenting, unabating, unrelieved, without respite, endless, unending, never-ending, perpetual, without end, everlasting, eternal, interminable
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    1. 1.1 Forming a series with no exceptions or reversals.
      ‘there are continuous advances in design and production’
      • ‘Hang gliders have evolved by continuous improvements on previous designs.’
      • ‘It was called to protest continuous increases in oil and fuel prices.’
      • ‘A point on the block serves as guide for the repeat impression, so that the design is continuous.’
      • ‘With the continuous increase in the size of herds and flocks pastoralists moved away from the settled areas around Adelaide.’
      • ‘The slab is designed as a continuous plate supported by the floor beams and edge girders.’
      • ‘Competition is not a good in itself: it is only a good if it achieves continuous improvement in areas that benefit society as a whole.’
      • ‘Accounts of technological development are retrospective stories about continuous advance.’
      • ‘The one area of reproduction which can create difficulties in accurate dating is the continuous production of a design over many years.’
      • ‘Since then, the area has suffered continuous economic decline.’
      • ‘Without continuous and increasing demand, any pure fiat system is dead on arrival.’
      • ‘The quay was in many respects a local project, born out of local needs, given the continuous increase in trade and shipping in the port of Izmir.’
      • ‘The consequences would be a rapid, continuous, and sizable escalation of oil prices in the short and long term.’
      • ‘The company, says Jeter, believes that continuous improvement is vital to its business.’
      • ‘A continuous increase in import prices would mean a fall in real income and a slowdown in personal consumption.’
      • ‘With the continuous increase in the number of graduates, the job situation is getting tougher and tougher.’
      • ‘We have now entered an era of continuous rate increases that has no chance of turning back anytime soon.’
      • ‘As a rule, in order to sustain a general up-trend in stock prices there must be a continuous increase in money supply.’
      • ‘The report and its findings will be used as an agenda for sustained and continuous improvement to enable all our students to develop and prosper.’
      • ‘The decision to relocate and upgrade the branch was necessitated by the continuous growth of the branch.’
    2. 1.2Mathematics (of a function) of which the graph is a smooth unbroken curve, i.e. one such that as the value of x approaches any given value a, the value of f(x) approaches that of f(a) as a limit.
      • ‘He also studied projective geometry, algebraic curves and continuous groups in lectures given by Gustav Kohn.’
      • ‘He proved strong results on continuous functions containing Sierpinski's curve and wrote several papers on functional spaces.’
      • ‘This means that we can ignore a lot of jumps in functions and integrate them as if they were nice, smooth, continuous functions.’
      • ‘In 1873 he gave a continuous function with divergent Fourier series at any point solving a major problem.’
      • ‘A similar algorithm was later developed which allowed rational approximation of continuous functions defined on an interval.’
  • 2Grammar

    another term for progressive (sense 3 of the adjective)


There is some overlap in meaning between continuous and continual, but the two words are not wholly synonymous. Both can mean roughly ‘without interruption’ (a long and continual war; five years of continuous warfare), but continuous is much more prominent in this sense and, unlike continual, can be used to refer to space as well as time, as in the development forms a continuous line along the coast. Continual, on the other hand, typically means ‘happening frequently, with intervals between,’ as in the bus service has been disrupted by continual breakdowns. Overall, continuous occurs much more frequently than continual (almost five times more often in the Oxford English Corpus)


Mid 17th century: from Latin continuus ‘uninterrupted’, from continere ‘hang together’ (from con- ‘together with’ + tenere ‘hold’) + -ous.