The adjective continuous describes something that occurs over space or time without interruption. Some computer fans make a continuous noise — a constant buzz — that can drive you to distraction.

Continuous things don’t stop, not even for a coffee break. A continuous sheet of ice has no cracks, a continuous noise never pauses, and a continuous line of railroad is the kind you want if you’re on a train. Continual, on the other hand, is used to describe things that start and stop occasionally. Use continuous for anything that goes on and on.

Definitions of continuous
  1. adjective
    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”
    synonyms: uninterrupted
    marked by continuous or uninterrupted extension in space or time or sequence
    around-the-clock, day-and-night, nonstop, round-the-clock
    at all times
    ceaseless, constant, incessant, never-ending, perpetual, unceasing, unremitting
    uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
    `continual' (meaning seemingly uninterrupted) is often used interchangeably with `continuous' (meaning without interruption)
    dogging, persisting
    relentless and indefatigable in pursuit or as if in pursuit
    having the ends united so as to form a continuous whole
    free burning, sustained
    (of an electric arc) continuous
    consecutive, straight
    successive (without a break)
    maintained at length without interruption or weakening
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    discontinuous, noncontinuous
    not continuing without interruption in time or space
    not continuous in space, time, or sequence or varying abruptly
    recurring in scattered and irregular or unpredictable instances
    marked by breaks or gaps
    used of distributions, as of statistical or natural populations
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  2. adjective
    of a function or curve; extending without break or irregularity
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    of a function or curve; possessing one or more discontinuities
Commonly confused words

continual / continuous

The words continual and continuous are like twins: they both come from continue, but they get mad if you get them confused. Continual means start and stop, while continuous means never-ending.

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Word Family

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