con·​tem·​plate ˈkän-təm-ˌplāt How to pronounce contemplate (audio)
contemplated; contemplating

transitive verb

: to view or consider with continued attention : meditate on
contemplate the vastness of the universe
contemplated the meaning of the poem
: to view as likely or probable or as an end or intention
contemplate marriage
contemplated a move to Alaska

intransitive verb

: ponder, meditate
wanted time to just sit and contemplate
contemplator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for contemplate

consider, study, contemplate, weigh mean to think about in order to arrive at a judgment or decision.

consider may suggest giving thought to in order to reach a suitable conclusion, opinion, or decision.

refused even to consider my proposal

study implies sustained purposeful concentration and attention to details and minutiae.

study the plan closely

contemplate stresses focusing one's thoughts on something but does not imply coming to a conclusion or decision.

contemplate the consequences of refusing

weigh implies attempting to reach the truth or arrive at a decision by balancing conflicting claims or evidence.

weigh the pros and cons of the case

Examples of contemplate in a Sentence

He contemplated the meaning of the poem for a long time. I'd like some time to just sit and contemplate. She stood and quietly contemplated the scene that lay before her.
Recent Examples on the Web Romel Williams has been contemplating a career change. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2023 The suggestion they might be displaced again is too painful to contemplate. Alexander Smith, NBC News, 22 Nov. 2023 In another, with a dramatic black and white filter, he’s posed with his eyes closed, contemplating life without lighters. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 20 Nov. 2023 Theresa’s Fantasy Suite Theresa and Gerry started the date by horseback riding together but Gerry was still contemplating his relationships with both women. Stephanie Wenger, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2023 Homes may be sold or couples may contemplate divorce to become eligible. Jordan Rau, Fortune Well, 16 Nov. 2023 Eventually, after several days of heavy drinking and drug use, Acosta decided to return to Los Angeles, leaving Thompson once more to contemplate the week’s events alone, this time at the Tropicana hotel. Rory Feehan, SPIN, 9 Nov. 2023 Delivered over a pulsing piano that harkens to 1980s Chicago, the song ultimately lands at a heavier-sounding chorus that contemplates the couple in question as action heroes battling the world. Tom Roland, Billboard, 15 Nov. 2023 Originally, the government contemplated imposing a different kind of tax measure on e-commerce providers. Nana Ama Sarfo, Forbes, 13 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'contemplate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Latin contemplātus, past participle of contemplāre, contemplārī "to look at fixedly, observe, notice, ponder," from con- con- + -templāre, -templārī, verbal derivative of templum "space of sky or land delimited orally by an augur, sacred precinct, building consecrated to a deity" — more at temple entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1533, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of contemplate was circa 1533

Dictionary Entries Near contemplate

Cite this Entry

“Contemplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​tem·​plate ˈkänt-əm-ˌplāt How to pronounce contemplate (audio)
contemplated; contemplating
: to view or consider with careful and thoughtful attention
: to have in mind : plan on
contemplating a trip
contemplator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on contemplate

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