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 His infectious enthusiasm for healing is a revolutionary combination of ancient Tantric Buddhism, modern contemplative psychology, meditation, breath-work, and integrative nutrition, all delivered in his own approachable and playful style. Bridget Arsenault, Forbes, 7 June 2021 There’s also the sheer pressure of time in quiet, contemplative sequences—walking, driving, fishing—that seethe with latent violence. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 1 June 2021 The students’ shortcomings mirrored the spiritual state of the U.S. as a whole: its relentlessly practical sensibility, its impatience with the contemplative life. Sohrab Ahmari, WSJ, 7 May 2021 For centuries, Japanese priests have reaped the benefits of contemplative plots. Wsj Off Duty Staff, WSJ, 20 May 2021 The contemplative site is part of a larger 80-acre landscape and woodland that will evoke streams that once flowed across the campus, later erased by the construction of roads and buildings. Bebe Howorth, ELLE Decor, 22 Apr. 2021 Maquette is the latest game from the contemplative publisher Annapurna Interactive, and its recursive game world needs to be seen firsthand. Luke Winkie, Vulture, 9 Apr. 2021 Scribner, 336 pages, $27 Out of contemplative pauses in front of that plaque, Mr. Spufford has created an extraordinary novel in terms of its variety of character, symphonic language and spiritual reach. Maureen Corrigan, WSJ, 14 May 2021 Less sordid tell-all, more contemplative reflection. Ashley Spencer, Washington Post, 6 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Being near the most sacred part of the house made a contemplative out of her. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, 3 May 2021 The figures are dressed in a contemporary athletic style that emphasizes their strength, but the posturing is casual and timeless, ranging from contemplative to statuesque. Danielle Avram, Dallas News, 16 Dec. 2020 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, 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, 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

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contemplative.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2021.

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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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