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 For Agnes Pelton, painting was a profound means for contemplation. Los Angeles Times, "Review: The glorious mysteries of Agnes Pelton’s desert paintings, on view in Palm Springs," 14 Apr. 2021 Right now the river is angry, slapping over the banks, drowning the benches where in better times people sit in peaceful contemplation. Diane Johnson, The New York Review of Books, "We’ll Always Have Paris," 23 Mar. 2021 The Acropolis turned into a place for lonesome contemplation, freed from the busloads of tourists who usually churn through its winding paths. Washington Post, "While Americans faced stimulus check uncertainty, Europe paid to keep workers employed," 11 Mar. 2021 Within these green spaces, there is a terrace or path or enclosure to give sanctuary to your joy, sorrow, pain, contemplation. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, "A century ago, landscape design was a man’s world. But these women created a garden for the ages.," 7 Apr. 2021 If the grave of a hero is customarily a place of serene contemplation, this one is so disturbing that people run from it in fear—and thereupon hangs the tale of Easter. Robert Barron, WSJ, "Recovering the Strangeness of Easter," 2 Apr. 2021 So it's given me a lot of contemplation time and introspection and not jumping mindlessly from thing to thing. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Artist Hunt Slonem Brings a Vibrant Menagerie of Birds and Bunnies to Bergdorf Goodman," 12 Mar. 2021 These drugs were highly prized for their ability to catalyze everything from all-night dance parties to the contemplation of the mind’s inner mysteries. John Semley, The New Republic, "The Outlaw Chemists Who Deserve a Cut of the Psychedelic Gold Rush," 8 Mar. 2021 In an age of Instagram DMs, retweets, news notifications, texts, Signal messages, Snaps, and, every so often, actual phone calls, sending an email isn’t a welcome interruption from a day of quiet contemplation. Joel Stein, Town & Country, "Good Emails Take Time: On the Value of Thoughtful Virtual Correspondence," 28 Feb. 2021

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

24 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contemplation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 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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Comments on contemplation

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