con·​tem·​pla·​tive | \ kən-ˈtem-plə-tiv; ˈkän-təm-ˌplā-, -ˌtem- \

Definition of contemplative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: marked by or given to contemplation specifically : of or relating to a religious order devoted to prayer and penance a contemplative order of nuns



Definition of contemplative (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who practices contemplation

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Other Words from contemplative


contemplatively adverb
contemplativeness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for contemplative

Synonyms: Adjective

broody, cogitative, meditative, melancholy, musing, pensive, reflective, ruminant, ruminative, thoughtful

Antonyms: Adjective


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Examples of contemplative in a Sentence


He has lived a quiet, contemplative life. She joined a contemplative order of nuns.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

An interior waterfall lowers the temperature, adjacent to a contemplative open space beneath the slabs. Julie V. Iovine, WSJ, "The Best Architecture of 2018: Building for Complex Experiences," 14 Dec. 2018 Weepiness Level: Lip-quivering with perhaps a contemplative tear. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "15 Sad Movies for When You Need Something to Cry About," 3 Oct. 2018 Where de Meuron is subdued, contemplative, almost impassive, Herzog is frank and energetic. Ian Volner, WSJ, "Swiss Architecture Firm Herzog & De Meuron Celebrates 40 Years," 4 Nov. 2018 The excitement of the Menil has always been the contrast between its contemplative interiors and its additive plan. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "A museum grows in Houston," 1 Nov. 2018 Seven glass lenses cast soft hues of light across different sections of the building, adding a sense of wonder and serenity to the contemplative space. The Seattle Times, "Secret Seattle: 10 hidden neighborhood hangouts," 15 Oct. 2018 The clean images seem to mirror her new, more subdued, image that is so contemplative. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Ariana Grande Covers “Elle” in All White," 11 July 2018 Where some artists work with paint brush and palette, Ms. Lekberg often wielded a blowtorch, welding steel, bronze and other materials into works featuring dancers, trees, contemplative figures and more. Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, "Barbara Lekberg, Artist With a Blowtorch, Dies at 92," 2 Mar. 2018 Both are so intricate and contemplative, both best appreciated when the words wash over you. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Paul Simon hits the Toyota Center on his way home," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Regarding cross-checking interpersonal experience, both contemplatives and the texts dealing with the various experiences a meditator might encounter are quite precise in their descriptions. Matthieu Ricard, The Atlantic, "Neuroscience Has a Lot To Learn from Buddhism," 17 Dec. 2017

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


14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for contemplative


see contemplate


see contemplate

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Statistics for contemplative

Last Updated

21 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for contemplative

The first known use of contemplative was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for contemplative



English Language Learners Definition of contemplative

: involving, allowing, or causing deep thought

: devoted to religious thought and prayer

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Comments on contemplative

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


to gather or build up little by little

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