opposite, against

Quick Summary

The prefix contra- and its variant counter- mean “opposite” or “against.” For instance, the prefix contra- gave rise to the words contradict and contrast, whereas the variant spelling counter- gave rise to counteract and counterfeit. To contradict someone is to speak “against” what she is saying, whereas a counterclockwise direction is “opposite” of the normal way a clock’s hands usually run.

No Opposition Against Contra

The prefix contra- and its variant counter- mean “opposite” or “against.” Let’s take a look today to see just how productive instead of counterproductive we can get!

First let’s take a look at the primary prefix contra-, which means “opposite” or “against.” When you contradict someone, you speak “against” what she says. Your opinion then offers a contrast to hers, which is an “opposite” way of looking at something. If you tend to contradict what others say often, you are a contrary person, often acting “against” others to be difficult, or in the “opposite” way that other people act.

Now let’s move on to counter-, a variant of contra-, which also means “opposite” or “against.” If you counter an argument, you are providing an “opposite” viewpoint, thus going “against” what has been said. A weight or force that counterbalances another goes “against” it to even things up. When you counteract a proposal, you do things “against” it, just like counterattacking something is going “against” it after being attacked first.

Have you ever considered that counterfeit and counterclockwise are related? When a crook makes counterfeit money, he makes money that is the “opposite” of genuine cash, whereas a counterclockwise motion goes in the “opposite” direction that a clock’s hands usually run.

On two interesting side notes, a country is etymologically a land “opposite” another, in contrast to the land it is up “against.” Also, in the phrase “pros and cons,” cons is simply a shortening of the prefix contra-; if you’re offering the cons in an argument, you are going “against” something that has been proposed.

Continuing at this point about the prefixes contra- and counter- meaning “oppposite” or “against” is contraindicated, simply because our encounter with them has been sufficient!

  1. contradict: speak ‘against’
  2. contrast: that which stands ‘against’ something else, offering an ‘opposite’ viewpoint
  3. contrary: having the habit of often going ‘against’ what others do
  4. counter: to offer an ‘opposite’ opinion
  5. counterbalance: a weight or force placed ‘against’ another to even it out
  6. counteract: to do something ‘against’ or ‘opposite’ something else
  7. counterattack: to go ‘against’ something that has attacked you
  8. counterfeit: money that is made ‘opposite’ of real money
  9. counterclockwise: to move in a path ‘opposite’ that of a clock’s hands
  10. country: land ‘opposite’ another that butts up ‘against’ it
  11. con: evidence that speaks ‘against’ a proposal
  12. contraindicate: to indicate ‘against’
  13. encounter: to run up “against”


  • incontrovertible

    Incontrovertible facts are certain, unquestionably true, and impossible to doubt however hard you might try to convince yourself otherwise.

  • contravene

    To contravene a law, rule, or agreement is to do something that is not allowed or is forbidden by that law, rule, or agreement.

  • contrary

    If you act in a contrary way, you oppose or go against an existing way of doing or thinking about something.

  • countermand

    When an order is countermanded, it is canceled or reversed.

  • counterpart

    A counterpart to something corresponds to it, is a copy of it, or is almost identical to it.

  • contretemps

    A contretemps is a mishap or inopportune event that disrupts the flow of what is transpiring.

  • contrast

    A contrast between two things shows how those things are different from one another.

  • contra

    a member of the guerrilla force that opposed a left-wing government in Nicaragua

  • contraband

    distributed or sold illicitly

  • contradict

    be in contradiction with

  • contradistinction

    a distinction drawn on the basis of contrast

  • contrariety

    the relation between contraries

  • contrariwise

    in a contrary disobedient manner

  • contravention

    coming into conflict with

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