con·​tem·​pla·​tive | \ kən-ˈtem-plə-tiv How to pronounce contemplative (audio) ; ˈkän-təm-ˌplā-, -ˌtem- How to pronounce contemplative (audio) \

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

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of contemplative in a Sentence

Adjective He has lived a quiet, contemplative life. She joined a contemplative order of nuns.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This happens several times, a fantastic climax to what is a mostly solemn, contemplative piece. Lauren Warnecke,, "Momenta’s ‘Counter Balance’ has ingenious duets and wheelchair dance, as well as some unnecessary fluff," 9 Sep. 2019 His casting shrewdly reinforces the movie’s conception of Ned as a reactive, contemplative figure, someone who has absorbed one blow after another and now assumes the roles of gang leader and familial protector with more obligation than glee. Los Angeles Times, "Review: In ‘True History of the Kelly Gang,’ a brutal, sexy, spellbinding take on outlaw legend," 23 Apr. 2020 As if concerned that a novel at such an intimate, contemplative level won’t get over, Wayne conjures up some bigger dramas in the latter pages. Mark Athitakis, USA TODAY, "Review: Teddy Wayne's 'Apartment' a savvy novel about class and male friendship," 24 Feb. 2020 Dogs Director: Matthew Salleh A contemplative odyssey across our planet, looking at the simple and extraordinary ways that dogs influence our daily lives. Joey Nolfi,, "King of Staten Island," 15 Jan. 2020 Fly fishing has been called the contemplative recreation. The Editors, Field & Stream, "Three Keys to Selecting a Fly Rod and Reel Combo," 2 Apr. 2020 These days, new tunnels, steep roads and staircases lead contemplative tourists (with little fear of heights) to the Greek Orthodox monasteries of Meteora, Daniel Stonewrites. National Geographic, "See the Full Archive," 9 Mar. 2020 There's interesting potential here for a contemplative examination of the clash between rigid tradition and modern attitudes, with a feminist angle woven around the dance elements and the marginalized female access at the mosque. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'I'll Meet You There': Film Review | SXSW 2020," 20 Mar. 2020 Not since Robert Redford's film adaptation of A River Runs Through It, nearly 30 years ago, has this precise, often contemplative pastime garnered so much interest. Darrell Hartman, Condé Nast Traveler, "Where Fly-Fishing Obsessives Go to Get Away From the Crowds," 4 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Harmony is at the heart of plaza life, the communal ties between tables, the whole mishmash crowd in this shifting encampment, taking the sun, contemplatives in the land of commerce. Garrison Keillor, Harper's magazine, "Hurrah for the Plaza," 22 July 2019 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


Middle English contemplatif "devoted to or concerned with spiritual meditation," borrowed from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Medieval Latin contemplātīvus, going back to Latin, "theoretical, speculative," from contemplātus, past participle of contemplāre, contemplārī "to look at fixedly, observe, notice, ponder" + -īvus -ive — more at contemplate


Middle English contemplatyfe "person devoted to spiritual meditation," borrowed from Medieval Latin contemplātīvus, noun derivative of contemplātīvus "devoted to or concerned with spiritual meditation" — more at contemplative entry 1

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Time Traveler for contemplative

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for contemplative

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contemplative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for contemplative


How to pronounce contemplative (audio) How to pronounce contemplative (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contemplative

: involving, allowing, or causing deep thought
: devoted to religious thought and prayer

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