The Definition and Use of the Word “Continuum”

The Definition and Use of the Word “Continuum”

A continuum is a range or series of things that have a particular characteristic to different degrees. For example, you could say that a person’s level of lactose intolerance falls on a continuum between mild and severe. Or that a certain type of crime falls on a continuum between minor and major crimes.

It is important to remember that every time you attempt to define stages of any evolutionary or developmental process, there must be a continuum. Otherwise, the entire thing is just a fancy way of saying, “we don’t know.”

For instance, it is impossible to tell exactly where the line is between one language and another. Some people say that a dialect is a separate language, while others believe it is just a point on the continuum between two languages.

Another example is the continuum between slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers in a person’s body. It is also hard to say at what point a person’s genetics fall into the category of a specific race. Many a parent has found that their parenting style tends to fall on a basic continuum between strict disciplinarians and other more child centered styles. These examples are from programmatically collected online sources to illustrate current usage of the word continuum. Any opinions in these examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Browse other words related to continuum using the buttons below. the continuum

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