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 Nevertheless, the custodians of policy consensus in the West, especially the United States, are usually fairly blasé when asked to contemplate population aging and its potentially devastating impact on domestic economic growth. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, "Making Life Cheap," 18 May 2020 The virtual fan idea is just too creepy to contemplate. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Piping in fan noise for NFL games is a bad idea. Here's why we kind of love it," 14 May 2020 The prospect of what Trump’s response would look like without a voice like Fauci’s is sobering to contemplate. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Fleeting Moments of Clarity in the Senate Hearing on the Coronavirus Response," 13 May 2020 The move to contemplate housing foreign workers in cruise ships comes with a fair bit of irony. Philip Heijmans,, "Singapore Considers Housing Uninfected Foreign Workers in Cruise Ships," 10 May 2020 Much of the world is struggling to contemplate how to make a trip to the local grocery store amid the coronavirus pandemic. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "Coronavirus brought China’s travel industry to a standstill. Now it’s showing signs of life," 25 Apr. 2020 This in itself will inevitably lead some to contemplate how climate change and covid-19 fit together. The Economist, "Covid-19 and the climate," 25 Apr. 2020 So much love for Lucy to contemplate in her suddenly mostly quiet and empty house. Brad Townsend, Dallas News, "A painfully long farewell to Papa," 23 Apr. 2020 Death by quicksand or indentured to China: Neither is a pleasant future to contemplate for our closest and oldest allies. Peter Rough, National Review, "The European Union Needs More National Flexibility," 22 Apr. 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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Learn More about contemplate

Time Traveler for contemplate

Time Traveler

The first known use of contemplate was circa 1533

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Statistics for contemplate

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contemplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 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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Comments on contemplate

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