contrary

contrary
1. The position of the main stress has fluctuated over the centuries, and the OED notes that poets from Chaucer to Spenser and Shakespeare placed it on both the first and the second syllable according to need. In current English, the stress is now placed on the first syllable for the adjective and the noun, except in the meaning ‘perverse, obstinately self-willed’, in which the stress is on the second syllable, probably under the influence of the nursery rhyme beginning Mary, Mary, quite contrary.
2. The phrase on the contrary is properly used only in a statement intensifying a denial of what has just been stated or implied:

• Experience in beekeeping is not necessary —on the contrary a beginner's input can be extremely useful —Gloucester Citizen, 1999.

On the other hand denotes a differing (not necessarily opposite) point of view, and is often paired with on the one hand.
3. The phrase to the contrary is used in AmE in the meaning of on the contrary (see 2), but in BrE is used only as a mid-sentence or end-of-sentence adverbial as in There is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Contrary — Con tra*ry (? or ?; 48), a. [OE. contrarie, contraire, F. contraire, fr. L. contrarius, fr. contra. See {Contra }.] 1. Opposite; in an opposite direction; in opposition; adverse; as, contrary winds. [1913 Webster] And if ye walk contrary unto me …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • contrary — I adjective abnegative, adversative, adverse, adversus, answering, antagonistic to, antipathetic, antithetic, antithetical, at cross purposes, at issue, at variance, averse, captious, conflicting, confutative, confuting, contradicting,… …   Law dictionary

  • contrary — n antithesis, opposite, contradictory, antonym, antipode (see under OPPOSITE adj) Analogous words: *converse, reverse contrary adj 1 antithetical, *opposite, contradictory, antonymous, antipodal, antipodean Analogous words: divergent, disparate,… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • contrary — [kän′trer΄ē; ] for adj.4, often [ kən trer′ē] adj. [ME contrarie < OFr contraire < L contrarius, opposite, opposed < contra, against] 1. opposed; in opposition [contrary to the rules] 2. opposite in nature, order, direction, etc.;… …   English World dictionary

  • Contrary — may refer to: Contrary motion, in music theory Contrary Magazine, a literary journal founded at the University of Chicago Contrary (social role), in certain Amerindian cultures Contrary (comics), a character from Malibu Comics Ultraverse Little… …   Wikipedia

  • Contrary — Con tra*ry, n.; pl. {Contraries}. 1. A thing that is of contrary or opposite qualities. [1913 Webster] No contraries hold more antipathy Than I and such a knave. Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. An opponent; an enemy. [Obs.] Chaucer. [1913 Webster] 3. the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • contrary — mid 14c., from Anglo Fr. contrarie, from L. contrarius opposite, opposed, from contra against (see CONTRA (Cf. contra)). If we take the statement All men are mortal, its contrary is Not all men are mortal, its converse is All mortal beings are… …   Etymology dictionary

  • contrary — ► ADJECTIVE 1) opposite in nature, direction, or meaning. 2) (of two or more statements, beliefs, etc.) opposed to one another. 3) perversely inclined to do the opposite of what is expected or desired. ► NOUN (the contrary) ▪ the opposite. ● …   English terms dictionary

  • Contrary — Con tra*ry, v. t. [F. contrarier. See {Contrary}, a.] To contradict or oppose; to thwart. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] I was advised not to contrary the king. Bp. Latimer. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • contrary to — what we had predicted, the lemon potatoes were very popular Syn: in conflict with, against, at variance with, at odds with, in opposition to, counter to, incompatible with …   Thesaurus of popular words

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