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

Keep scrolling for more

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


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

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 Eating it is contemplative, a Zen koan of the mouth. Devra First,, "How does Fenway Eventide stack up to the original?," 4 June 2018 Then conclude at the most contemplative, and strongest, third — the gowns evoking orders and sacraments at the Cloisters. Jason Farago, New York Times, "‘Heavenly Bodies’ Brings the Fabric of Faith to the Met," 9 May 2018 Nakao Haider and Vogel brought the technical expertise-to say nothing of Vogel's state-of-the-art 35mm camera, which gave the more contemplative moments off the court a deeper solidity and grace. Patrick Z. Mcgavin, Chicago Reader, "State basketball powerhouse Orr Academy’s incredible rise to glory bared in gripping new film," 12 Mar. 2018 Successive surprises and plot turns rip apart the widow’s contemplative life—and her loving family. Francine Prose, WSJ, "Five Best: Francine Prose on Family Troubles," 12 July 2018 After his home was vandalized with a racial slur last year, a contemplative LeBron James mentioned Emmett Till in a subsequent press conference. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "raceAhead: Fresh Justice for Emmett Till?," 12 July 2018 The music moves from fiery to contemplative with plenty of stops in between; while the duo has long revealed an almost telepathic connection, the first disc captures them at their most locked-in. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Saxophonist Dave Rempis and percussionist Tim Daisy celebrate two decades of collaboration," 5 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contemplative

Share contemplative

Statistics for contemplative

Last Updated

28 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contemplative

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for contemplative



English Language Learners Definition of contemplative

: involving, allowing, or causing deep thought

: devoted to religious thought and prayer

Keep scrolling for more

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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!