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

The billionaire businessman and philanthropist contemplated an Oval Office bid in 2008 and considered running as an independent candidate in 2016. Melanie Grayce West, WSJ, "Former New York Mayor Bloomberg Rejoins Democratic Party," 10 Oct. 2018 This skepticism isn’t new For decades, South Koreans have debated about how to formulate a workable and realistic North Korea policy, while contemplating the possibility of a second Korean War. Il Hyun Cho And Seo-hyun Park, Washington Post, "South Korea has reason to be both skeptical — and optimistic — about dialogue with North Korea," 16 May 2018 And perhaps a wake-up call for those powerful entertainers who'd victimized women and were contemplating a move back to the spotlight, feeling that their moment of exile was coming to an end. Lorraine Ali,, "Bill Cosby's third act: A guilty verdict for sexual assault," 27 Apr. 2018 The group provides aid and support to people contemplating or who have undergone diversionary bowel or bladder surgeries (colostomy, ileostomy, urostomy, Kock or J pouch, etc.). Linda Mcintosh,, "Soroptimists give “Live Your Dream” Awards," 23 Apr. 2018 Yes, imagine this line of thinking, except extended and more nonsensical, going on in a drunken state in the middle of the night, deep in a depression, while contemplating ending it all. Alise Leslie, The Root, "Champion," 1 Apr. 2018 Mia Moretti deejayed as partygoers such as Kelly Rutherford and Sheree Hovespian contemplated their bids. Mai Morsch, Vogue, "Artists Eddie Martinez and Sam Moyer Are Celebrated at the Free Arts NYC Auction," 26 Apr. 2019 Rebecca and Miguel contemplate moving cross-country to be closer to Kate and the baby. Jessica Radloff, Glamour, "This Is Us Producers Answer All Your Questions About Kate and Toby's Baby," 13 Mar. 2019 Roethlisberger contemplated retirement in 2017 before deciding to return to action. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "Steelers take QB Mason Rudolph in third round of NFL draft," 27 Apr. 2018

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

Latin contemplatus, past participle of contemplari, from com- + templum space marked out for observation of auguries — more at temple

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Statistics for contemplate

Last Updated

23 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contemplate

The first known use of contemplate was circa 1533

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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

What made you want to look up contemplate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

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