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

Definition of contemplate

transitive verb

1 : to view or consider with continued attention : meditate on contemplate the vastness of the universe contemplated the meaning of the poem
2 : 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

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Other Words from contemplate

contemplator \ ˈkän-​təm-​ˌplā-​tər How to pronounce contemplate (audio) , -​ˌtem \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Richard Saunders, executive director of the state’s health department, told committee members that laws on statewide emergencies didn’t seem to contemplate a scenario like COVID-19. Bethany Rodgers, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah lawmakers seek to curb emergency powers of governor, public health officials," 2 Mar. 2021 In an era of thoughtless consumption, Ottobri believes that anything that requires the energy to create should serve more than one purpose, challenging us not only to use an object but to contemplate its meaning as well. New York Times, "A Provençal Estate That Is a Home and a Gallery," 2 Mar. 2021 Engagement strategies that fail to contemplate transformative change should be rightly condemned as greenwashing. David Carlin, Forbes, "The Case For Fossil Fuel Engagement," 2 Mar. 2021 But even as the U.K. cheers the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and begins to contemplate an eventual end to lockdown restrictions, the situation in Dagenham remains precarious. NBC News, "How 'Detroit of the U.K.' went from thriving suburb to Covid hotspot," 28 Feb. 2021 Those with a solid retirement strategy should not need to contemplate such a move immediately. cleveland, "Local expert offers advice on retirement planning for Ohioans," 25 Feb. 2021 There are four specific calls to action, but they are rooted in joy, a chance to revel in fellowship and also to contemplate the lessons of perseverance and endurance. oregonlive, "Purim, the most joyous of Jewish holidays, begins Thursday with celebrations in Portland, around the world," 24 Feb. 2021 My father had aced MIT and the US Naval Academy in part because of his capacity to contemplate complex mathematical phenomena with unnatural calm. Greg Harris,, "To beat my dad at Mindball, all I had to do was relax. Why was it so hard?," 19 Feb. 2021 No matter where they’re found on Earth, trematodes require at least two hosts to complete their life cycle, which makes life both exhausting and bewildering to contemplate. Sabrina Imbler, The Atlantic, "An Epic Journey to Adulthood Begins in the Intestines of a Deep-Sea Fish," 16 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contemplate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of contemplate

circa 1533, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for contemplate

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

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Time Traveler for contemplate

Time Traveler

The first known use of contemplate was circa 1533

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Statistics for contemplate

Last Updated

6 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contemplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for contemplate



English Language Learners Definition of contemplate

: to think deeply or carefully about (something)
: to think deeply
: to think about doing (something)


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

Kids Definition of contemplate

1 : to look at with careful and thoughtful attention
2 : to think about deeply and carefully
3 : to have in mind : plan on Maybe we should contemplate a trip to Europe.

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Comments on contemplate

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