# Contiguous vs. Continuous — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Fiza Rafique — Updated on April 25, 2024
Contiguous regions share a common border or are physically touching, whereas continuous implies uninterrupted in time or sequence.

## Key Differences

Contiguous refers to things that are adjacent or in direct contact with each other. This is often used to describe geographical areas. On the other hand, continuous pertains to events, processes, or time periods that proceed without interruption.
In geography, a contiguous area means parts are connected or border each other directly, such as the contiguous United States excluding Alaska and Hawaii. Whereas, continuous can describe a non-stop flight that doesn’t require any layovers or stops.
The concept of contiguous is applied physically, implying no intervening spaces. In contrast, continuous can apply to more abstract concepts like time or motion, where the emphasis is on the absence of breaks or pauses.
A contiguous property might involve touching pieces of property, such as lots in a subdivision. Continuous, however, could describe a seamless operation in a factory where the production line runs 24/7 without stopping.
Understanding contiguous versus continuous helps in fields such as computer programming, where data might be stored in contiguous memory locations, while a continuous function represents a mathematical function with no sudden jumps or breaks.

## Comparison Chart

### Definition

Touching or adjoining in physical space
Uninterrupted in time, sequence, or space

### Usage in context

Geographical areas, properties
Processes, time, operations

### Key characteristic

Absence of breaks or interruptions

### Common fields of use

Geography, real estate
Mathematics, physics, operations management

### Examples

Contiguous 48 states of the U.S.
Continuous data stream, continuous service

## Compare with Definitions

#### Contiguous

Connected in a series or row.
The new housing development features homes in contiguous plots.

#### Continuous

Seamless or uninterrupted.
The play had a continuous sequence of exciting scenes.

#### Contiguous

Sharing a common border.
The contiguous nations often share resources and policies.

#### Continuous

Without interruption.
The continuous noise from the construction site was distracting.

#### Contiguous

Next or together in sequence.
The museum displayed the artifacts in contiguous showcases.

#### Continuous

Unbroken in time or sequence.
The company promised continuous support for the software.

#### Contiguous

The two contiguous rooms were ideal for the new office space.

#### Continuous

Ongoing without a stop or break.
The river flows in a continuous stream towards the sea.

#### Contiguous

Touching or in contact.
The contiguous states make up the main part of the country.

#### Continuous

Perpetual or constant.
The guard maintained continuous surveillance during the night.

#### Contiguous

Sharing an edge or boundary; touching.

#### Continuous

Uninterrupted in time, sequence, substance, or extent.

#### Continuous

Attached together in repeated units
A continuous form fed into a printer.

#### Contiguous

Connecting without a break
The 48 contiguous states.

#### Continuous

Of or relating to a line or curve that extends without a break or irregularity.

#### Contiguous

Connected in time; uninterrupted
Served two contiguous terms in office.

#### Continuous

Of or relating to a function between two topological spaces such that the preimage of any open set in the range is an open set in the domain.

#### Contiguous

Connected; touching; abutting.

#### Continuous

Without stopping; without a break, cessation, or interruption.
A continuous current of electricity

#### Continuous

Without intervening space; continued.

#### Contiguous

Connecting without a break.
The forty-eight contiguous states

#### Continuous

(botany) Not deviating or varying from uniformity; not interrupted; not joined or articulated.

#### Contiguous

The two halves of the paper did not appear fully divided . . . but seemed contiguous at one of their angles.
Sees no contiguous palace rear its head.

#### Continuous

Such that, for every x in the domain, for each small open interval D about f(x), there's an interval containing x whose image is in D.

#### Contiguous

Very close or connected in space or time;
Contiguous events
Immediate contact
The immediate vicinity
The immediate past

#### Continuous

Such that each open set in the target space has an open preimage (in the domain space, with respect to the given function).
Each continuous function from the real line to the rationals is constant, since the rationals are totally disconnected.

#### Contiguous

Connecting without a break; within a common boundary;
The 48 conterminous states
The contiguous 48 states

#### Continuous

(grammar) Expressing an ongoing action or state.

#### Contiguous

Having a common boundary or edge; touching;
Abutting lots
Rhode Island has two bordering states; Massachusetts and Conncecticut
The side of Germany conterminous with France
Utah and the contiguous state of Idaho
Neighboring cities

#### Continuous

Without break, cessation, or interruption; without intervening space or time; uninterrupted; unbroken; continual; unceasing; constant; continued; protracted; extended; as, a continuous line of railroad; a continuous current of electricity.
He can hear its continuous murmur.

#### Continuous

Not deviating or varying from uninformity; not interrupted; not joined or articulated.

#### Continuous

Continuing in time or space without interruption;
A continuous rearrangement of electrons in the solar atoms results in the emission of light
A continuous bout of illness lasting six months
Lived in continuous fear
A continuous row of warehouses
A continuous line has no gaps or breaks in it
Moving midweek holidays to the nearest Monday or Friday allows uninterrupted work weeks

#### Continuous

Of a function or curve; extending without break or irregularity

## Common Curiosities

#### Can a road be contiguous?

Yes, if sections of the road physically touch or are connected without gaps, it's contiguous.

#### How is continuous time represented?

Continuous time refers to time intervals that proceed without breaks or interruptions.

#### What is a continuous process in industry?

A continuous process in industry refers to operations that run non-stop, without interruptions.

#### Is the term contiguous only applicable to physical objects?

Primarily, though it can be used metaphorically.

#### Can a river be both contiguous and continuous?

It can be continuous in its flow, but not contiguous unless referring to adjacent sections.

#### What defines a contiguous space?

Contiguous spaces physically touch each other or share a common border.

#### What is a contiguous file?

In computing, a contiguous file's data are stored together in one single block without fragmentation.

#### Is the contiguous USA the whole country?

No, it refers only to the 48 adjoining states and excludes Alaska and Hawaii.

#### Can you give an example of a continuous function?

A continuous function in mathematics is one where small changes in input produce small changes in output, without sudden jumps.

#### How does continuity apply to services?

Services that are advertised as continuous, like customer support, are available at all times.

#### How do you describe continuous improvement?

Continuous improvement involves ongoing efforts to improve products, services, or processes.

#### Is human habitation continuous worldwide?

No, human habitation is interrupted by uninhabitable areas like deserts and mountains.

#### What’s the difference between continuous and continual?

Continuous implies something uninterrupted, whereas continual allows for lapses.

#### Are contiguous events possible?

Events can be contiguous in a timeline if they occur back-to-back without intervening events.

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