1560s, of persons, "to transgress," from Middle French contravenir "to transgress, decline, depart," from Late Latin contravenire "to come against, oppose," in Medieval Latin "to transgress, break (a law)," from Latin contra "against" (see contra (prep., adv.)) + venire "to come" (from PIE root *gwa- "to go, come"). Of actions or things, "come or be in conflict with," 1660s. Related: Contravened; contravening.
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