[ kuhn-tin-yoo ]
/ kənˈtɪn yu /

verb (used without object), con·tin·ued, con·tin·u·ing.

verb (used with object), con·tin·ued, con·tin·u·ing.

Origin of continue

1300–50; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin continuāre to make all one, verbal derivative of continuus continuous

synonym study for continue

3. Continue, endure, persist, persevere, last, remain imply existing uninterruptedly for an appreciable length of time. Continue implies duration or existence without break or interruption. Endure, used of people or things, implies persistent continuance against influences that tend to weaken, undermine, or destroy. Persist and persevere, used principally of people, both imply firm and steadfast continuance in the face of opposition. Persist suggests human opposition: He persisted after he had been warned; and persevere suggests opposition from any source, often an impersonal one: He persevered despite fatigue. Last often applies to something that holds out to a desired end, fresh, unimpaired, or unexhausted, sometimes under conditions that tend to produce the opposite effect: They had provisions enough to last all winter. Remain is especially applied to what continues without change in its essential state: He remained a bachelor.



Where does continue come from?

Continue entered English around 1300–50. Coming into English through French, continue ultimately comes from the Latin continuāre, meaning “to make all one, join together, connect.” This verb could also mean, much like its English derivative, “to carry on, draw out, prolong, last”—that is, to continue.

The Latin verb continuāre is formed from the adjective continuus. Does continuus look familiar? It’s the direct source of the English continuous, meaning “uninterrupted in time; without cessation” or “being in immediate connection or spatial relationship.”

The Latin adjective continuus meant “uninterrupted, unbroken, continuous.” That’s right: continuus meant, well, continuous. Sometimes, there is a great a deal of continuity in word development.

But we’re not done yet. The Latin continuus is itself ultimately based on another verb, continēre, “to hold or keep together.” So, something that continues—that is, it goes on, keeps on, or endures in some way—stays all held together, in an etymological manner of speaking.

Dig deeper

We noted above that continue is ultimately connected to continēre, “to hold together.” Continēre is the source of some other familiar English words, including contain, continent, and content. Does knowing that all these words come from a verb meaning “to hold together” give you any deeper insights into these words?

For all this talk of holding things together, we can, er, continue breaking apart the roots of the Latin verb continēre. It is composed of con, a productive prefix with the sense of “with, together,” and tenēre, “to hold.”

Derivations of tenēre appears in a great many English words, including detain, detention, entertain, tenacious, tenant, tenet, retain, retention, sustain, and sustenance.

But don’t be fooled. While detain is related to detention and retain to retention, contain is not related to contention, or “strife, contest, controversy.” Contention is derived from the same Latin root that gives English contend.

Did you know ... ?

English has several nouns related to the verb continue. While their senses often overlap, they also have subtle and important differences. Explore more at our entries for the words:

Example sentences from the Web for continue

British Dictionary definitions for continue

/ (kənˈtɪnjuː) /

verb -ues, -uing or -ued

(when tr, may take an infinitive) to remain or cause to remain in a particular condition, capacity, or place
(when tr, may take an infinitive) to carry on uninterruptedly (a course of action); persist in (something) he continued running
(when tr, may take an infinitive) to resume after an interruption we'll continue after lunch
to draw out or be drawn out; prolong or be prolonged continue the chord until it meets the tangent
(tr) law, mainly Scot to postpone or adjourn (legal proceedings)

Derived forms of continue

continuable, adjective continuer, noun continuingly, adverb

Word Origin for continue

C14: from Old French continuer, from Latin continuāre to join together, from continuus continuous