Contiguous vs continuous

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Contiguous and continuous are very close in spelling and pronunciation, the two words are easily confused. However, there is a distinct difference in meaning between contiguous and continuous which we will define, with examples that will illustrate those differences. Contiguous describes two or more things that share a border, two or more things that touch, that are physically next to each other. For instance, the forty-eight states that make up the mainland of the United States are contiguous, as they abut each other without any gaps. Alaska is not a contiguous state as the country of Canada separates it from the mainland of forty-eight states. The word contiguous is derived from the Latin word contiguus, which means touching, bordering upon. Contiguous is an adjective, related words are contiguously, contiguousness, contiguity.

Continuous describes something that is unbroken, whole, something that is not interrupted, a pattern that is not interrupted. The word continuous is derived from the Latin word continuus, which means uninterrupted or hanging together. Continuous is also an adjective, related words are continuously, continuousness, continuity. Though contiguous and continuous look and sound very similar, contiguous describes two or more things that physically abut each other, continuous describes a span of time that is uninterrupted or a pattern or sequence that is uninterrupted, or something that doesn’t end.


Thirteen Chinese coast guard vessels were in the contiguous zone bordering those waters Sunday — the largest such fleet since Tokyo nationalized the islands in 2012, the Japan Coast Guard said. (The Nikkei Asian Review)

While the measure, authored by public-interest attorney Cory Briggs, would increase hotel-room taxes, the taxpayers group said it included “troubling governance elements” and prevented a contiguous expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, which the group has backed. (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Recruitment specialists have labelled millennials as “continuous candidates” for their habit of always being on the lookout for the next gig and a leadership role. (The Business Insider)

NTT faces continuous water deficit, drought (The Jakarta Post)