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uninterrupted in time: continuous ticking of a clock. [These words are often used without any distinction in meaning, as are continually and continuously. To make a clear distinction, use the contrasting terms intermittent and uninterrupted.]
Not to be confused with:
continual – intermittent; often repeated: continual chiming of a clock
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


1. Uninterrupted in time, sequence, substance, or extent. See Synonyms at continual.
2. Attached together in repeated units: a continuous form fed into a printer.
3. Mathematics
a. Of or relating to a line or curve that extends without a break or irregularity.
b. Of or relating to a function between two topological spaces such that the preimage of any open set in the range is an open set in the domain.

[From Latin continuus; see continue.]

con·tin′u·ous·ly adv.
con·tin′u·ous·ness n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. prolonged without interruption; unceasing: a continuous noise.
2. in an unbroken series or pattern
3. (Mathematics) maths (of a function or curve) changing gradually in value as the variable changes in value. A function f is continuous if at every value a of the independent variable the difference between f(x) and f(a) approaches zero as x approaches a. Compare discontinuous2 See also limit5
4. (Statistics) statistics (of a variable) having a continuum of possible values so that its distribution requires integration rather than summation to determine its cumulative probability. Compare discrete3
5. (Grammar) grammar another word for progressive8
[C17: from Latin continuus, from continēre to hold together, contain]
conˈtinuously adv
conˈtinuousness n
Usage: Both continual and continuous can be used to say that something continues without interruption, but only continual can correctly be used to say that something keeps happening repeatedly
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(kənˈtɪn yu əs)

1. uninterrupted in time; without cessation: continuous noise during the movie.
2. being in immediate connection or spatial relationship: a continuous row of warehouses.
[1635–45; < Latin continuus uninterrupted =contin(ēre) to hold together, retain (see contain) + -uus]
con•tin′u•ous•ly, adv.
con•tin′u•ous•ness, n.
usage: See continual.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



You can use constant, continual, and continuous to describe things that happen or exist without stopping.

1. 'constant'

You describe something as constant when it happens all the time or never goes away.

He was in constant pain.
I'm getting tired of Eva's constant criticism.
2. 'continual' and 'continuous'

Continual is usually used to describe something that happens often over a period of time. If something is continuous, it happens all the time without stopping, or seems to do so. For example, if you say 'There was continual rain', you mean that it rained often. If you say 'There was continuous rain', you mean that it did not stop raining.

Continual can only be used in front of a noun. Don't use it after a verb. Continuous can be used either in front of a noun or after a linking verb.

There have been continual demands to cut costs.
He still smoked despite the continual warnings of his nurse.
There was a continuous background noise.
Breathing should be slow and continuous.

If you are describing something undesirable which continues to happen or exist without stopping, it is better to use continual rather than continuous.

Life is a continual struggle.
She was in continual pain.
3. 'continual' or 'continuous'

If you are describing something undesirable which continues to happen or exist without stopping, it is better to use continual rather than continuous.

Life is a continual struggle.
It was sad to see her the victim of continual pain.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.continuous - continuing in time or space without interruptioncontinuous - continuing in time or space without interruption; "a continuous rearrangement of electrons in the solar atoms results in the emission of light"- James Jeans; "a continuous bout of illness lasting six months"; "lived in continuous fear"; "a continuous row of warehouses"; "a continuous line has no gaps or breaks in it"; "moving midweek holidays to the nearest Monday or Friday allows uninterrupted work weeks"
unbroken - marked by continuous or uninterrupted extension in space or time or sequence; "cars in an unbroken procession"; "the unbroken quiet of the afternoon"
noncontinuous, discontinuous - not continuing without interruption in time or space; "discontinuous applause"; "the landscape was a discontinuous mosaic of fields and forest areas"; "he received a somewhat haphazard and discontinuous schooling"
2.continuous - of a function or curve; extending without break or irregularity
math, mathematics, maths - a science (or group of related sciences) dealing with the logic of quantity and shape and arrangement
discontinuous - of a function or curve; possessing one or more discontinuities
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


adjective constant, continued, extended, prolonged, unbroken, uninterrupted, unceasing Residents reported that they heard continuous gunfire.
broken, periodic, passing, occasional, interrupted, intermittent, spasmodic, inconstant
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
مُتَتابِع، مُتَواصِل، مُسْتَمِرمُسْتَمِرّ
liên tục


A. ADJcontinuo
B. CPD continuous assessment Nevaluación f continua
continuous (feed) paper Npapel m continuo
continuous inventory Ninventario m continuo
continuous performance N (in cinema) → sesión f continua
continuous stationery Npapel m continuo
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[kənˈtɪnjʊəs] adj
[process, event] → continu(e) continuous assessment, continuous performance
[line, surface] → ininterrompu(e)continuous assessment n (British)contrôle m continu
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


adjdauernd, ständig, kontinuierlich (geh); linedurchgezogen, ununterbrochen; rise, movement etcstetig, stet attr (geh), → gleichmäßig; (Math) functionstetig; to be in continuous useständig in Benutzung sein; a continuous stream of peopleein ununterbrochener Andrang von Menschen; a continuous stream of phone callseine ununterbrochene Flut von Anrufen; continuous assessmentBeurteilung fder Leistungen während des ganzen Jahres; continuous paper (Comput) → Endlospapier nt; (pre-printed) → Endlosformular nt; continuous performance (Film) → durchgehende Vorstellung; continuous tense (Gram) → Verlaufsform f; present/past continuous (Gram) → erweitertes Präsens/Präteritum; continuous textFließtext m
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[kənˈtɪnjʊəs] adjcontinuo/a, ininterrotto/a
continuous performance (Cine) → spettacolo continuato
continuous stationery (Comput) → (carta a) moduli mpl continui
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(kənˈtinjuː) verb
1. to go on being, doing etc; to last or keep on. She continued to run; They continued running; He will continue in his present job; The noise continued for several hours; The road continues for 150 kilometres.
2. to go on (with) often after a break or pause. He continued his talk after the interval; This story is continued on p.53.
conˈtinual adjective
very frequent; repeated many times. continual interruptions.
conˈtinually adverb
conˌtinuˈation noun
1. the act of continuing, often after a break or pause. the continuation of his studies.
2. something which carries on, especially a further part of a story etc. This is a continuation of what he said last week.
ˌcontiˈnuity (kon-) noun
1. the state of being continuous or logically related. It is important to children to have some continuity in their education.
2. the detailed arrangement of the parts of a story etc for a film script etc.
a continuity girl.
conˈtinuous adjective
joined together, or going on, without interruption. a continuous series; continuous rain; continuous movement.
conˈtinuously adverb
It rained continuously all day.

continual means frequent, again and again.
continuous means non-stop, without interruption.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


مُسْتَمِرّ nepřetržitý fortsat andauernd αδιάκοπος ininterrumpido jatkuva continu trajan continuo 連続的な 연속적인 ononderbroken sammenhengende ciągły contínuo продолжительный oavbruten ซึ่งต่อเนื่องกัน kesintisiz liên tục 连续的
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


a. continuo-a, seguido-a.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


adj continuo
English-Spanish/Spanish-English Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Laws of motion of any kind become comprehensible to man only when he examines arbitrarily selected elements of that motion; but at the same time, a large proportion of human error comes from the arbitrary division of continuous motion into discontinuous elements.
Quantity is either discrete or continuous. Moreover, some quantities are such that each part of the whole has a relative position to the other parts: others have within them no such relation of part to part.
An action which is one and continuous in the sense above defined, I call Simple, when the change of fortune takes place without Reversal of the Situation and without Recognition.
But, as it is not unreasonable to suppose that I may have held its threads with a more continuous attention than anyone else can have given them during its desultory publication, it is not unreasonable to ask that the weaving may be looked at in its completed state, and with the pattern finished.
His cranial cavity is continuous with the first neck-vertebra; and in that vertebra the bottom of the spinal canal will measure ten inches across, being eight in height, and of a triangular figure with the base downwards.
The warning light for Harmattan winds will be continuous vertical glare (white) on all oases of trans-Saharan N.
And in this case the effects of intercrossing can hardly be counterbalanced by natural selection always tending to modify all the individuals in each district in exactly the same manner to the conditions of each; for in a continuous area, the conditions will generally graduate away insensibly from one district to another.
Square offspring has sometimes resulted from a slightly Irregular Triangle; but in almost every such case the Irregularity of the first generation is visited on the third; which either fails to attain the Pentagonal rank, or relapses to the Triangular.] Such a birth requires, as its antecedents, not only a series of carefully arranged intermarriages, but also a long, continued exercise of frugality and self-control on the part of the would-be ancestors of the coming Equilateral, and a patient, systematic, and continuous development of the Isosceles intellect through many generations.
Attributing this to the continuous uproar of the thunder they pushed at one of the doors, which yielded.
The powerful ventilators added their continuous blasts and saturated with oxygen the glowing plates.
It was only the first note of the celestial prelude, for it was followed in quick succession by numerous flashes, whilst the crash and roll of thunder seemed continuous.
As I continued to thread the tall woods, I could hear from far before me not only the continuous thunder of the surf, but a certain tossing of foliage and grinding of boughs which showed me the sea breeze had set in higher than usual.

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