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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for contemplation



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Seattle Japanese Garden is a perfect place for quiet contemplation on a summer day, but those hungry koi were not exactly in a contemplative mood on a recent visit. Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times, "Seattle Japanese Garden offers serenity, beauty — and hungry fish," 8 Aug. 2019 Cohan’s solo here was rich in soft-spoken contemplation, and Wojciechowski’s contribution on soprano saxophone enriched the work’s sweetly reflective character. Howard Reich,, "Review: Pianist Ryan Cohan brings an imposing intensity to Jazz Showcase," 12 July 2019 This is an atmosphere not designed for contemplation, but for guzzling. Washington Post, "Zeppelin is fun, but its sushi doesn’t quite fly," 1 Aug. 2019 King's decision comes after nearly three weeks of contemplation. Alaa Abdeldaiem,, "Four-Star Recruit Haynes King Commits to Texas A&M," 17 July 2019 Five works from Lee Ka-sing’s photographic series Z Fiction (2010-2011) form a narrative about Hong Kong’s constant search for the definition of its cultural identity, and a contemplation of its British past. Vivienne Chow, Quartzy, "An art show in Switzerland became an accidental lens into Hong Kong’s protests," 4 July 2019 Action planet Mars also inhabits this intuitive sign, slowing our actions with better contemplation of our feelings. Venus Australis,, "Your Horoscope This Week," 23 June 2019 For more than 30 years, students studying to be Jesuit priests, in contemplation or in prayer, walked through the rolling hills and redwood forests just south of Los Gatos, across Highway 17 from the Lexington Reservoir. Paul Rogers, The Mercury News, "New redwood park opening 15 miles from downtown San Jose," 7 June 2019 Most of these stories are defined by contemplation rather than plot. Tania James, New York Times, "Debut Stories Trace the Aftershocks of the Sri Lankan Civil War," 5 July 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contemplation

Statistics for contemplation

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contemplation

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on contemplation

What made you want to look up contemplation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!