verb con·tem·plate \ ˈkän-təm-ˌplāt , -ˌtem- \
Updated on: 18 Jan 2018

Definition of contemplate

contemplated; contemplating
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


play \ˈkän-təm-ˌplā-tər, -ˌtem\ noun

Examples of contemplate in a Sentence

  1. He contemplated the meaning of the poem for a long time.

  2. I'd like some time to just sit and contemplate.

  3. She stood and quietly contemplated the scene that lay before her.

Recent Examples of contemplate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of contemplate

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

contemplate Synonyms

chew over, cogitate, consider, ponder, debate, deliberate, entertain, eye, kick around, meditate, mull (over), perpend, pore (over), question, revolve, ruminate, study, think (about or over), turn, weigh, wrestle (with)
Related Words
muse (upon), reflect (on or upon), reminisce; analyze, explore, review; conclude, reason; second-guess, speculate (about); brood (about or over), dwell (on or upon), fixate (on or upon), fret (about or over), obsess (about or over); believe, conceive, opine; absorb, assimilate, digest, drink (in)
Near Antonyms
disregard, ignore, overlook, slight; dismiss, pooh-pooh (also pooh), reject

Synonym Discussion of 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

CONTEMPLATE Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of contemplate for English Language Learners

  • : to think deeply or carefully about (something)

  • : to think deeply

  • : to think about doing (something)

CONTEMPLATE Defined for Kids


verb con·tem·plate \ ˈkän-təm-ˌplāt \

Definition of contemplate for Students

contemplated; contemplating
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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of, relating to, or resembling a lion

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