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[kon-tn-en-tl] /ˌkɒn tnˈɛn tl/
of or of the nature of a continent.
(usually initial capital letter) of or relating to the mainland of Europe, to Europeans, or to European customs and attitudes.
(initial capital letter) of or relating to the 13 original American colonies during and immediately after the American Revolution.
of or relating to the continent of North America.
(initial capital letter) a soldier of the Continental Army in the American Revolution.
a piece of paper currency issued by the Continental Congress during the American Revolution.
a small amount:
advice that's not worth a continental.
an inhabitant of a continent.
(usually initial capital letter) an inhabitant of the mainland of Europe.
Origin of continental
1750-60; continent + -al1
Related forms
continentally, adverb
noncontinental, adjective, noun
precontinental, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for continental
  • continental previews new jets at trade convention.
  • Until then it's about as relevant as my disagreement with continental drift would be.
  • continental crust is less dense and thicker than the surface of the deep ocean.
  • Culprits that could have altered the climate and oceans in a deadly way include sustained volcanism and continental drift.
  • Some start as a continental shelf, a flat piece of land located below sea level.
  • Mountains are formed when two continental plates smash together, thrusting the crust upward.
  • Foreign-born diseases sometimes impact island communities more strongly than they impact continental lands.
  • Activate the buttons at the top right to map continental characteristics.
  • Melting ice could slide off continental shelves and into the ocean faster than it's replaced by fresh snowfall.
  • The farther inland you live, the stronger this continental influence.
British Dictionary definitions for continental


of or characteristic of Europe, excluding the British Isles
of or relating to the 13 original British North American colonies during and immediately after the War of American Independence
(sometimes not capital) an inhabitant of Europe, excluding the British Isles
a regular soldier of the rebel army during the War of American Independence
(US, history) a currency note issued by the Continental Congress
Derived Forms
Continentalism, noun
Continentalist, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for continental

1818 as a purely geographical term, from continent + -al (1). In reference to the European mainland (as opposed to Great Britain), recorded from 1760. Continental breakfast (the kind eaten on the continent as opposed to the kind eaten in Britain) is attested by 1855. In reference to the British American colonies from 1774; the Continental Congress is attested from 1775; continental divide in use by 1865; continental rise in geology from 1959; continental slope from 1907. Continental shelf first attested 1888.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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