Definition of contradictory in US English:



  • 1Mutually opposed or inconsistent.

    ‘the two attitudes are contradictory’
    • ‘One wonders how all of these expansive and apparently contradictory conclusions fell within the committee's assigned sphere of responsibility.’
    • ‘Secular culture so often teaches us that religion and science are mutually exclusive, even contradictory, forces.’
    • ‘He cannot, however, be forced in the name of tolerance to agree that all points of view, including those that are mutually contradictory, are equally valid.’
    • ‘Since I believe not in mistakes, but in likes and dislikes, I find Shaw's musical judgment equally acute in both of his contradictory conclusions.’
    • ‘And when it comes to discussions about his effectiveness in playing that card, there are similarly contradictory conclusions.’
    • ‘Despite this, the Committee reached conclusions that are contradictory and that were not based on a comprehensive review of the available literature.’
    • ‘These studies lead to different, and often contradictory, conclusions.’
    • ‘The ability of one and the same human being to hold on to quite contradictory and even sharply opposed ideas is well known and has had many celebrated illustrations.’
    • ‘It is always difficult to explain to students of politics how the core concepts of liberty and equality are contradictory yet mutually constitutive.’
    • ‘As a skilled political counsellor More had to display his rhetorical skills in justifying often mutually incompatible or contradictory statements and beliefs in the service of the state.’
    • ‘On these rare occasions when people are presented with the same raw data, the two camps have managed to fashion conclusions that are not just different but almost entirely contradictory.’
    • ‘However, subsequent studies led to contradictory conclusions.’
    • ‘But these authors reached their conclusion by ignoring the contradictory data!’
    • ‘Roche has attacked the heritage group over what he described as its inconsistent and contradictory attitudes towards different projects.’
    • ‘Indeed, one of the two main words used in English legislation, i.e., obscene, has two, mutually contradictory, legal definitions.’
    • ‘As I see it and as I think the articles in this issue indicate, these two positions are neither diametrically opposed nor contradictory.’
    • ‘Even within weeks, or given years, he'll go back and forth on the very same issue and express points of view that are mutually completely contradictory.’
    • ‘An individual can also say contradictory things at different times.’
    • ‘Again activism and commerce are neither contradictory nor mutually exclusive.’
    • ‘They believed that their strategy not only reconciled rapid growth with equitable distribution but made these two apparently contradictory social aims mutually supporting.’
    opposed, in opposition, opposite, antithetical, contrary, contrasting, conflicting, at variance, at odds, opposing, clashing, divergent, discrepant, different
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Containing elements which are inconsistent or in conflict.
      ‘the committee rejected the policy as too vague and internally contradictory’
      • ‘This time, he is placing his bets on the contradictory premise of giving employees access to corporate data in a secure yet simple way.’
      • ‘But there is another element involved that is less visible and far more contradictory.’
      • ‘There is so much of it, it is so contradictory, so obviously motivated by economic interests, so commodified, so much to be distrusted.’
      • ‘However, Ruskin was a complex and contradictory figure who must always be viewed in context.’
      • ‘In addition, human behavior is highly complex, contradictory, and remarkably unpredictable.’
      • ‘The war experiences of the individual nations are too different and internally contradictory.’
      • ‘I know it sounds contradictory, but bear with me on this.’
      • ‘I suspect the resulting product would be contradictory - different reporters seeing different realities.’
      • ‘If we are not convinced that our own contradictory belief is true, then we are not really ‘tolerating’ the other's belief.’
      • ‘This contradictory behaviour is due to its own economic myths.’
      • ‘Medical evidence is often contradictory and value laden; many decisions about treatments will be difficult.’
      • ‘Its coup has, however, put it in an exposed position, for it must now deliver this contradictory package.’
      • ‘Society's approach to the risk of injury and death often appears contradictory.’
      • ‘Adelphia is struggling with the price issue at the moment, partly because the evidence is somewhat contradictory.’
      • ‘There is also an apparently contradictory but equally strong behavioural imperative, which says that eating in groups is competitive, and that you need to protect your stash.’
      • ‘Quite the opposite - it's the observation of contradictory evidence that refines those models and tools, and drives science forwards.’
      • ‘It suggests to the outsider that he must have been exceptionally vague, and probably contradictory.’
      • ‘He thus ignores the complex and often contradictory nature of identity.’
      • ‘According to John Stirton, research into the influence of polls on electoral behaviour is contradictory.’
      • ‘It would be undesirable if the general law and regulatory law - which in some respects is more lenient - demanded contradictory behaviour of the one bank.’
    2. 1.2Logic (of two propositions) so related that one and only one must be true.
      Compare with contrary
      • ‘The basic law of logic is the principle of non-contradiction, namely that it is contradictory to say that something can both be and not be at the same time.’
      • ‘I'm sure that we could even come up with contradictory principles based on this kind of reasoning.’
      • ‘For any pair of contradictory premises, one must be true and the other false.’
      • ‘In each case, the judge must decide which of the possibly contradictory principles is the most important.’
      • ‘Propositions are contradictory when the truth of one implies the falsity of the other, and conversely.’


  • A contradictory proposition.

    • ‘Interpreted in this way, they need not be seen as excluding their own logical contradictories, because the contradictory doctrine was formulated in, and is correlative to, a different situation.’
    • ‘Following Aristotle, he announced that the primary principle of reasoning is that contradictories cannot both be true.’
    • ‘He entitles this kind of opposition dialectical, and that of contradictories analytical.’
    • ‘God can make either of them true, but he can't make both of them true, since they are contradictories.’
    • ‘Self and not-self, subject and object, are not contradictories, but dialectical polarities.’


Late Middle English (as a term in logic): from late Latin contradictorius, from Latin contradict- ‘spoken against’, from the verb contradicere (see contradict).