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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web What’s really inspiring me right now is this idea of contemplation. Nicole Gull Mcelroy, Fortune, 10 May 2022 Marco learns to see inwardly: the art of contemplation. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 21 Jan. 2022 This poem seems positioned as a prolusion — his word — or prelude to set a mood of contemplation, to encourage a softness or stillness, a long view, for entering what follows. Nancy Lord, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Apr. 2022 The effort involves hours of contemplation, writing and editing. San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Apr. 2022 Sun Ra Arkestra at Wild Days: Sunday can traditionally be used as a time of contemplation. Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2022 Carreau du Temple on Sunday, served as a reminder of the importance of contemplation, and the profound impact that color can have on the senses. Twiggy Jalloh, Vogue, 7 Mar. 2022 Afterward, in their homes, friends and relatives gathered for ritual prayers, tearful condolences and silent contemplation. Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2022 The tour ended near the top of the temple, in the Celestial Room, a room for quiet contemplation. CBS News, 17 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contemplation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for contemplation


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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