con·​tem·​pla·​tion | \ ˌkän-təm-ˈplā-shən How to pronounce contemplation (audio) , -ˌtem- \

Definition of contemplation

1a : concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion
b : a state of mystical awareness of God's being
2 : an act of considering with attention : study made the decision after much contemplation
3 : the act of regarding steadily was lost in quiet contemplation of the scene
4 : intention, expectation "A considerable crime is in contemplation."— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Synonyms for contemplation


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Examples of contemplation in a Sentence

contemplation of the meaning of life He goes to the forest to spend time in contemplation of nature. She was lost in quiet contemplation of the scene.
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Recent Examples on the Web The work in the kitchen and at the farm is done almost completely in silence, as is the majority of their daily routine consisting of prayer together and individual contemplation. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, "The best fruitcake in the world might be this boozy one made by these Kentucky monks," 19 Dec. 2019 Riccardo Muti launched his 10th season as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Thursday evening with a program rich in contemplation and brightened with brilliant orchestral color. Howard Reich,, "CSO review: Riccardo Muti opens his 10th season with vivid Shostakovich," 20 Sep. 2019 These qualities are evident in the work on show at Tate Britain; each rewards time spent in contemplation. K.s.c., The Economist, "A blockbuster show at Tate Britain gives William Blake his due," 17 Sep. 2019 But 10 years ago, a plucky early-music ensemble rang in the New Year with an even older choral masterpiece, full of pomp, glitter and moments of deep contemplation. New York Times, "After a Decade, a Monteverdi Masterpiece Flies Free," 27 Dec. 2019 At the same time, the Danes have no trouble stepping outside worldly realms and into zones of rapt contemplation. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Pristine Empire of ECM Records," 25 Nov. 2019 The big Monet waterlily paintings are still there, but they’re displayed in a windowless Fifth Floor gallery that feels like a dry and airless cul-de-sac, rather than a place of contemplation connected to Johnson’s elegant garden. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Don’t let crowds deter you from visiting the expanded Museum of Modern Art in New York," 24 Nov. 2019 These poems coil and spring and then cut one loose into a murky current of contemplation about love, loss, identity and forgetting. oregonlive, "4 Oregon poets’ new collections plumb the past and illuminate the present," 9 Nov. 2019 That moment of deep contemplation has prompted a response from the Latino population, including a number of prominent Latinos to speak out publicly. Los Angeles Times, "Trump’s policies, as well as anti-immigrant violence, disturbed these Latinos. Now they’re taking action," 9 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contemplation.' 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 contemplation

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contemplation

Middle English contemplacioun "religious meditation, reflection, consideration," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French contemplaciun, borrowed from Latin contemplātiōn-, contemplātiō "act of looking at something, consideration" (Late Latin, "religious meditation"), from contemplāre, contemplārī "to look at fixedly, observe, notice, ponder" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at contemplate

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Time Traveler for contemplation

Time Traveler

The first known use of contemplation was in the 13th century

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Statistics for contemplation

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contemplation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for contemplation


How to pronounce contemplation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contemplation

: the act of thinking deeply about something
: the act of looking carefully at something


con·​tem·​pla·​tion | \ ˌkän-təm-ˈplā-shən How to pronounce contemplation (audio) \

Kids Definition of contemplation

1 : the act of thinking about spiritual things : meditation
2 : the act of looking at or thinking about something for some time

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