Home > C Words > continuum


Definition of Continuum

(noun) Range, series, or spectrum that gradually changes, in which no adjacent part is clearly distinct from the next but with distinctly defined extremes.

Examples of Continuum

  • Changes in the seasons.
  • Gendered expectations for women and men.
  • norms
  • temperatures
  • The severity of crimes and the punishments based on those crimes.
  • Typically, political opinions can be placed on a continuum between “left wing” and “right wing.”
  • Varieties of marriage.

Continuum Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: con·tin·u·um

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /kuhn-tIn-yoo-uhm/
  • British English – /kuhn-tIn-yuuhm/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /kənˈtɪnjuəm/
  • British English – /kənˈtɪnjuːəm/

Usage Notes

  • Plural:
    • continua
    • continuums
  • A continuum is (adjective) continuous.

Related Quotations

  • Caste and class systems of stratification are opposite, extreme points on a continuum. The two systems differ in the ease of social mobility, the relative importance of achieved and ascribed statuses, and the extent to which each restricts interaction among people considered unequal” (Ferrante 2011:204).
  • “‘Sex‘ basically refers to our biology—what’s between our legs when we’re born. Gender refers to social class as men and women—when we don’t fit into either of these categories—as transgender or genderqueer. Gender is something that is fluid and learned: We might come into this world with a penis or vagina, but we’re not born wanting to fix things with a hammer or carry a purse. We learn gender-appropriate behavior as we go along—or we don’t, and we might might suffer for it. Gender is taught and reinforced thorough institutional arrangements that tell us how men and women ‘should’ behave. In other words, gender is about the social construction of masculine, feminine, or genderqueer identity. Gender is not a binary selection but rather, a continuum of possibilities” (Tarrant 2009:6).

Additional Information

Related Terms


Ferrante, Joan. 2011. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Tarrant, Shira. 2009. Men and Feminism. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press.

Works Consulted

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Continuum

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “continuum.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 23, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/continuum/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

continuum. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/continuum/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “continuum.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 23, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/continuum/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“continuum.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 23 Jun. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/continuum/>.