Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Given to contention; quarrelsome. See Synonyms at argumentative, belligerent.
  • adj. Involving or likely to cause contention; controversial: "a central and contentious element of the book” ( Tim W. Ferguson).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Marked by heated arguments or controversy.
  • adj. Given to struggling with others out of jealousy or discord.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Fond of contention; given to angry debate; provoking dispute or contention; quarrelsome.
  • adj. Relating to contention or strife; involving or characterized by contention.
  • adj. Contested; litigated; litigious; having power to decide controversy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Apt to contend; given to angry debate; quarrelsome; perverse; litigious.
  • Relating to or characterized by contention or strife; involving contention or debate.
  • In law, relating to causes between contending parties.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. inclined or showing an inclination to dispute or disagree, even to engage in law suits
  • adj. involving or likely to cause controversy

Etymologies

From Latin contentiōsus ("quarrelsome, perverse"), from contentiō ("contention"), from contendere, past participle contentus ("to contend"); see contend. Confer French contentieux, corresponding to content +‎ -ious (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • There was lots of conversation outside the window, most of it contentious. -Charlaine Harris, Living Dead in Dallas

    December 11, 2010

  • "Thou think'st 'tis much that this contentious storm invades us to the skin", King Lear (III.iv)

    December 15, 2007