on the contrary

‘You left Paris yesterday, sir?’ he said to Monseigneur, as he took his seat at table.

‘Yesterday. And you?’

‘I come direct.’

‘From London?’


‘You have been a long time coming,’ said the Marquis, with a smile.

On the contrary; I come direct.’

‘Pardon me! I mean, not a long time on the journey; a long time intending the journey.’

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859.

on the contrary
used to show that you think or feel the opposite of what has just been stated:
“Didn’t you find the film exciting?” “On the contrary, I nearly fell asleep half way through it!” [CALD]

on the contrary Idiom
used to introduce a statement that says the opposite of the last one:
‘It must have been terrible.’ ‘On the contrary, I enjoyed every minute.’ [OALD]

on the contrary Idiom
In opposition to what has been stated or what is expected:
I’m not sick; on the contrary, I’m in the peak of health. [AHD4]

It does not, perhaps, relate to the present subject, but I cannot help remarking it, that very old families, such as have possessed some considerable estate from father to son for many successive generations are very rare in commercial countries. In countries which have little commerce, on the contrary, such as Wales or the highlands of Scotland, they are very common.

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Book 3, 1776.

Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us. But BEING PAID, — what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!

Herman Melville, Moby Dick, 1851.

He had no doubt it was Manuma who had flung the knife. He had escaped death by three inches. He was not angry. On the contrary, he was in high spirits; the adventure exhilarated him, and when they got back to the house, calling for drinks, he rubbed his hands gleefully.

W. Somerset Maugham, “Mackintosh”, 1920.

‘Well!’ Milo exclaimed, with thin-upped disapproval. ‘He certainly found out how wrong he was, didn’’t he?’

On the contrary,’ Yossarian corrected. ‘He found out how right he was. We packed it away by the plateful and clamored for more. We all knew we were sick, but we had no idea we’d been poisoned.’

Catch-22 – Joseph Heller, Catch-22,1961.

What could be taking so long? I tentatively wrote off both the equipment-malfunction theory and the forgotten-by-operator theory. Neither very realistic. This was not to say that equipment malfunction or operator negligence couldn’t realistically occur. On the contrary, I know for a fact that such accidents are all too common in the real world. What I mean to say is that in a highly exceptional reality — this ridiculously slick elevator a case in point — the non-exceptional can, for convenience sake, be written off as paradoxically exceptional. Could any human being capable of designing this Tom Swift elevator fail to keep the machinery in working order or forget the proper procedures once a visitor stepped inside?

Haruki Murakami, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, 1985; translated by Alfred Birnbaum, 1991.

Categorized: idiom


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