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continent (adj.)

late 14c., "self-restraining, temperate, abstemious," especially "abstaining from or moderate in sexual intercourse," from Old French continent and directly from Latin continentem (nominative continens) "holding together, continuous," present participle of continere "to hold back, check," also "hold together, enclose," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + tenere "to hold" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch"). In reference to bladder control, 1899. Related: Continently.

continent (n.)

1550s, "continuous tract of land," from continent land (mid-15c.), translating Medieval Latin terra continens "continuous land," from Latin continens "continuous," present participle of continere "to hold together, enclose," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + tenere "to hold" (from PIE root *ten- "to stretch").

As "one of the large land masses of the globe" from 1610s. As "the mainland of Europe" (from the point of view of Britain), from c. 1600.