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 contemplator (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 Here’s another one to contemplate: suppose the Democrats took a stand against the power of organized money. Jim Lardner, The New Yorker, "The Democrats Need a Plan to Fight Corruption—the Usual Kind as Well as the Trump Kind," 31 July 2020 Snyder, of course, refused to even contemplate a name change until FedEx threatened to take the name off the team’s Landover, Md., stadium. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "Cleveland and Atlanta are on the clock: It's time for the Indians, Braves to make a statement with nicknames," 13 July 2020 Foreign executives contemplate a kaleidoscope of risk scenarios: Must my firm publicly declare support for the security law? Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "A hotel-turned-security office signals Hong Kong’s big chill," 9 July 2020 Then contemplate all that can go wrong, exercising neurons that haven't fired since your brain stem was in nursery school. John Pearley Huffman, Car and Driver, "Looking to Buy or Lease? A Word of Advice," 3 July 2020 Every character here can be grasped in their entirety on sight—including Lumir’s American husband, Hank (Ethan Hawke), an amiable actor, trying to stay out of rehab—leaving plenty of room for the audience to contemplate larger questions. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, "Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Ingenious Families," 2 July 2020 The dizzying Iznik tiles, the world’s largest Bohemian crystal chandelier, the Egyptian onyx marble hammam—even the grandiose circumcision room—was all mine to contemplate and admire in splendid solitude. Jenna Scatena, Condé Nast Traveler, "Post-Lockdown, Istanbul's Residents Are Embracing Empty Palaces and Sunset Dance Parties," 30 June 2020 But the novel coronavirus has created so many unforeseen realities, forcing many to contemplate worse-case scenarios and wonder if the college sports bubble is about to burst. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Why Michigan athletics' budget woes should alarm the rest of college sports," 26 June 2020 This knowledge will give you the confidence to continue with your booking or contemplate an alternative destination. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "5 Things To Do Before Your Next Mani-Pedi, Facial Or Hair Appointment," 18 June 2020

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

8 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contemplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for contemplate


How to pronounce contemplate (audio)

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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