Meaning of “contrary” in the English Dictionary

"contrary" in British English

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contrarynoun [ S ]

uk /ˈkɒn.trə.ri/ us /ˈkɑːn.tre.ri/ formal
the contrary

the opposite:

I was worried that it might be too hard for me but it turned out the contrary was true.
on the contrary

B2 used to show that you think or feel the opposite of what has just been stated:

"I thought you said the film was exciting?" "On the contrary, I nearly fell asleep half way through it!"
to the contrary

C1 saying or showing the opposite:

For a long time it was thought to be a harmless substance, but we now have proof/evidence to the contrary.


uk /ˈkɒn.trə.ri/ /kənˈtreə.ri/ us /ˈkɑːn.trɚ.i/ /kənˈtrer.i/

contrary adjective (OPPOSITE)

C1 uk /ˈkɒn.trə.ri/ us /ˈkɑːn.tre-/ opposite:

a contrary point of view
Contrary to all our expectations, he found a well-paid job and a nice girlfriend.
contrary to popular opinion uk /ˈkɒn.trə.ri/ us /ˈkɑːn.tre-/

in a different way from what most people believe:

Contrary to popular opinion, I don't dye my hair!

contrary adjective (NOT REASONABLE)

uk /kənˈtreə.ri/ us /-ˈtrer.i/ A contrary person wants to disagree with and annoy other people:

He doesn't really mean it - he's just being contrary.

(Definition of “contrary” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"contrary" in American English

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contrarynoun [ U ]

us /ˈkɑnˌtrer·i/

contrary noun [ U ] (THE OPPOSITE)

a fact or opinion that is the opposite of one already stated:

We expected the play to be a bore, but the contrary was true.



us /ˈkɑnˌtrer·i/

contrary adjective (OPPOSITE)

opposing; opposite:

Most people supported the proposal, but Liz expressed a contrary opinion.


us /kənˈtrer·i, ˈkɑnˌtrer·i/

(of a person) intentionally wanting to disagree with and annoy other people:

I’m in a contrary mood – I don’t feel like practicing today.

(Definition of “contrary” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)