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 Of course, music is essential at any time, whether as a a brief diversion or an immersive experience, a cause for boisterous celebration or quiet contemplation, a cry of despair or a lifeline of hope. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, "2020 year in review: Best albums came as COVID-19 made music more essential than ever in a year we’d all like to forget," 27 Dec. 2020 Some churches closed for the past 10 months opened their doors a few hours a day last week for quiet contemplation. Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune, "COVID-19 sparks Christmas creativity in Minnesota," 19 Dec. 2020 In Buddhism, this practice is called Maranasati, the contemplation of death. Emma Pattee, Wired, "How Tech Could Help Us Contemplate Our Own Mortality," 31 Dec. 2020 Jill Harkavy-Friedman, the vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said unemployment can be one of several factors that play into a person's contemplation of suicide. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin's unemployment backlog leading to feelings of hopelessness, contributing to thoughts of suicide," 11 Nov. 2020 The exterior and first floor of the dwelling are meant to convey a hushed mood, one for contemplation and reflection. Sunset Magazine, "Get Design Inspiration from Napa’s Coolest New Tasting Room," 18 Dec. 2020 The Menils and the university also parted ways, and in 1968, before construction began, their chapel became an independent institution that would be open to nondenominational use and private contemplation, and would also stress civil rights. Michael J. Lewis, WSJ, "Rothko in a New Light," 9 Dec. 2020 Art is a carrot, not a stick, the smile-inducing sculpture insists — an inducement for contemplation and, sometimes, even a sweet bribe for tolerance and understanding. Los Angeles Times, "What would Baldessari do? A good question for the end of a terrible year," 7 Dec. 2020 Karlan provides an examination and contemplation of Prince’s life like none before. John J. Kelly, Detroit Free Press, "Holiday gift guide 2020: The best books bring comfort and joy," 7 Dec. 2020

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

11 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contemplation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for contemplation



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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