50 Contradiction Examples

contradiction examples and definition, explained below

A contradiction is anything that contains logical inconsistencies, hypocrisies, or oppositional elements that cannot be both true at the one time.

Five common types of contradiction are:

  • Logical contradictions: This occurs when two or more propositions within an argument cannot be true at the same time.
  • Empirical Contradiction: This arises when a statement or theory is contradicted by observed evidence.
  • Hypocrisy: This happens when someone’s actions contradict their stated beliefs or principles.
  • Self-Referential Contradiction: This is when a statement refers to itself in a way that creates a contradiction, such as “95% of facts are untrue”.
  • Semantic Contradiction: This arises from the use of language. For instance, “bachelor” means an unmarried man, so “married bachelor” is a semantic contradiction.

There are other types, such as mathematical contradictions, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll be exploring the five common categories above, with examples of each.

Contradiction Examples

1. Logical Contradictions

Logical contradiction is a term used when two statements disagree with each other so much that they can’t both be true at the same time. Think of it as two people saying exact opposites.

Let’s use color as an example. If you say an apple is red but I insist it’s blue, we’ve landed in a logical contradiction. We can’t both be correct because a red apple can’t be blue at the same time – one of us must be mistaken. A person listening to us might insist: “you’re contradicting one another!”

We come across logical contradictions regularly in our lives, often causing us some degree of cognitive dissonance, or confusion. For example, a meteorologist on your morning news might predict a sunny day, while your smartphone weather app alerts you to prepare for rain. Both forecasts cannot simultaneously be true. Either it’s sunny or it’s rainy, it cannot be both.

Similarly, in philosophical debates, a logical contradiction may occur when two theories or explanations compete, yet only one can accurately explain the situation at hand. This stirs up important discussions and debates, encouraging us to critically examine statements to reach a closer approximation of the truth.


  • Life and Death. A statement like, “John is alive and dead at the same time,” is a logical contradiction. John cannot be both alive and dead simultaneously.
  • Answers to Questions. If a teacher asks, “Is the Earth round or flat?” and a student answers, “Yes,” it’s a contradiction. The Earth cannot be both round and flat.
  • Perceptual Experience. If one person claims “The sky is blue” and another asserts “The sky is green,” they’re in a logical contradiction. The sky cannot be both blue and green at the same time.
  • Geographical Location. If you claim, “I’m in New York and Los Angeles at the same time,” it’s a logical contradiction. You cannot be in two places simultaneously.
  • Temporal Experience. If you say, “It’s both the past and the future right now,” it contradicts logic. It can only be the present moment.
  • Mathematical Problems. Suppose a math problem asserts, “2 + 2 = 5.” It contradicts the universally accepted truth that 2 + 2 equals 4, thus creating a logical contradiction.

2. Empirical Contradictions

Empirical contradiction involves a direct conflict between a claim or theory and observed facts or empirical evidence. It’s not just a clash of words or ideas – it’s a clash with reality.

Imagine, for example, that someone tries to convince you that there are no girls at your school. But you go to school and you see girls there with your own eyes. The person’s claim is contradicting your direct observation.

Often, empirical contradictions are present in scientific experiments. For instance, a scientist may propose a new theory expecting certain results from a test. When the test results inevitably differ from their expected outcomes, the theory faces an empirical contradiction. It implies that the theory may need refining, or perhaps discarding entirely.

Solving empirical contradictions is a key part of scientific progress. Confronting theoretical predictions with collected evidence either consolidates or challenges our understanding of natural laws. Hence, empirical contradictions can lead to exciting shifts in our knowledge and understanding of the world around us.


  • Geographical Claims. Suppose someone insists that Africa is the smallest continent, but empirical data reveals that it’s actually the second largest, by surface area. That’s an empirical contradiction.
  • Medical Claims. A company advertises that its weight loss pills cause people to lose 20 pounds in a week. Empirical studies show no such results. There’s a contradiction between the claim and the reality.
  • Space Science. If you were told that Mercury is farther from the Sun than Venus, empirical evidence from astronomy would contradict this claim, as Mercury is, in fact, the planet closest to the Sun.
  • Climate Science. Suppose someone argues that human activities are not contributing to global warming. This contradicts ample empirical evidence connecting fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrial activities to rising global temperatures.
  • Biological Theories. If someone hypothesizes that ostriches can fly and presents a theory to support this belief, empirical observations contradicting this (as ostriches are indeed flightless birds) create an empirical contradiction.
  • Archaeological findings. Let’s say a historian claims that no humans lived in a certain region 5,000 years ago, but archaeological digs in the region unearth ancient human artifacts. The findings contradict the historian’s claim.
  • Economic Predictions. If an economist predicts a turbulent market would lead to lower job growth but the empirical data shows job growth has actually increased, it forms an empirical contradiction.

3. Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is a form of contradiction where a person’s actions or behavior don’t align with their stated beliefs or values.

It involves professing moral standards or beliefs, but not living by them, thus demonstrating a disconnect between what one preaches and what one does.

Consider the case of a person who advocates for environmental conservation but leads a lifestyle of excessive waste and consumption. Their actions contradict their vocal advocacy for the environment, rendering them hypocritical.

Hypocrisy becomes especially potent when it involves public figures, leaders, or institutions because their influence is extensive, and their actions can significantly sway public opinion or behavior.

Hypocrisy Examples

  • Advocating for vegetarianism while eating meat. Imagine a person singing praises about vegetarianism – extolling the virtues of animal rights and environmental conservation – while they themselves eat steak for dinner. Their actions blatantly contradict their words, making them a hypocrite. They espouse one belief, but their behavior contradicts it.
  • Preaching about the importance of honesty while frequently lying. Consider a school coach emphasizing the importance of honesty to his young athletes but frequently lying about his own performance or qualifications. The coach’s hypocritical behavior is recognizable in his contradictory actions.
  • Promoting physical fitness and health but leading a sedentary lifestyle and eating junk food. Picture a fitness guru selling workout plans and health advice while they themselves sit around all day eating chips and drinking soda. They contradict the health and fitness lifestyle they publicize, the discrepancies marking them as hypocrites.
  • Arguing for the importance of saving money while spending recklessly. Envision a financial advisor advising clients on the crucial importance of budgeting and saving money while they are secretly mired in debt from unchecked spending. The contradictions between their personal and professional conduct make them a hypocrite.
  • Encouraging others to reduce carbon footprints while frequently flying in private jets. A climate change activist might encourage everyone to lessen their carbon footprint, but they fly around the world in their own private jet. The disparity between their words and actions is a glaring contradiction, labeling them as hypocritical in their environmental advocacy.

4. Self-Referential Contradictions

A self-referential contradiction is a specific type of inconsistency where a claim or assertion contradicts itself.

Unlike logical or empirical contradictions where two different statements are at odds, a self-referential contradiction resides within the one claim itself.

Essentially, it’s when a statement, proposition, or argument invalidates itself. A simple and classic example exists in the statement: “This sentence is false.”

If we analyze this sentence, we find it twists into a self-contradictory pretzel. If the sentence is true, then it must be false (as it claims to be). But if it’s false, it cannot be true. Either way, the statement contradicts itself.


  • “This sentence is false.” If the sentence is true, then it must be false as stated. But if it’s false, then it must be true – a clear contradiction.
  • “I am lying right now.” This statement is a paradox – if it’s true, the speaker is lying, making it false. But if it’s false, then the speaker is telling the truth, making it true.
  • “The following sentence is true. The preceding sentence is false.” This pair of sentences contradict each other. If the first sentence is true, the second must be false, which makes the first sentence false.
  • “I always tell lies.” If the speaker always tells lies, then this statement must be a lie, meaning they sometimes tell the truth. But that contradicts the original statement.
  • “No statement is self-referential.” This statement refers to itself, thus contradicting its own claim.
  • “Nobody goes to that restaurant, it’s too crowded.” If it’s crowded, then people are certainly going to that restaurant, which contradicts the first part of the sentence.
  • “I’m nobody.” If the person is someone, they cannot also be nobody, thus contradicting themselves.

5. Semantic Contradictions

Semantic contradiction refers to a conflict of meanings at a linguistic level resulting in an inconsistency or paradox within the sentence or proposition.

Unlike logical contradictions which focus on concepts, semantic contradictions focus on the actual words or expressions used in a sentence – where the words used have definitions and/or connotations that are mutually exclusive. Essentially, the meanings of the words clash in context, making the statement undefined or nonsensical.

A classic example of a semantic contradiction is the phrase “round square”. In geometric terms, ’round’ and ‘square’ involve mutually exclusive properties – a shape cannot have all points equidistant from the center (round) and four equal straight sides (square) simultaneously. This creates a semantic contradiction.

Quick Note: If you’re not sure what semantics is, see my introductory guide to semantics.


  • Act naturally
  • Alone together
  • Bitter sweet
  • Clearly confused
  • Deafening silence
  • Definitely maybe
  • Found missing
  • Freezer burn
  • Growing smaller
  • Guest host
  • Historical fiction
  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Living dead
  • Liquid gas
  • Minor crisis
  • Negative growth
  • Old news
  • Only choice
  • Random order
  • Same difference
  • Silent scream
  • Unbiased opinion
  • Virtual reality
  • Working vacation
  • Awfully good


Understanding contradictions – whether they’re logical, empirical, hypocritical, self-referential, or semantic – sharpens our abilities to evaluate, comprehend, and navigate the complex world around us.

Being able to spot and resolve contradictions aids us in refining our views, challenging scientific theories, and fostering more conscious communications.

Ultimately, contradictions push us to a deeper exploration of truth, keeping us vigilant and adaptive in our evolving understanding of the world.

Website | + posts

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

1 thought on “50 Contradiction Examples”

  1. Thanks , this was very informative giving me more than enough to explain what contradiction is to my daughter. I learned quite a bit myself! I’ll be looking at your other articles for reference next time .

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *