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

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

It was designed to use Shambhala’s contemplative teachings to address complaints against officeholders — such as meditation instructors or center employees — using Shambhala philosophies. Jackson Barnett, The Denver Post, "Shambhala, the Boulder-born Buddhist organization, suppressed allegations of abuse, ex-members say," 7 July 2019 Neither meditative nor contemplative practices are going to change your life overnight. Sarah Digiulio, NBC News, "Have you been meditating your entire life without knowing it?," 28 June 2019 For 8 seconds, Glover Quin gave a long, contemplative pause. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Glover Quin returns to Detroit Lions: If I had to retire, 'I would have'," 5 June 2018 While the brain specialist in White’s play responds with a great deal of denial and defensive lashing out, Ross’ Didion is mild and contemplative, preoccupied but precise and candid almost to a fault. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, "Review: Aurora goes deep into grief in Joan Didion play," 28 June 2019 But traditionally, this type of contemplative practice isn’t recognized as meditation, Roth says. Sarah Digiulio, NBC News, "Have you been meditating your entire life without knowing it?," 28 June 2019 The Sagittarius full moon on Monday, June 17 finds you in a more contemplative mood than normal. Randon Rosenbohm, Allure, "What June's Libra Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 29 May 2019 This is the kind of artist Hicks has always been: contemplative, gentle and wise. Lauren Smart, Dallas News, "Fiber artist Sheila Hicks weaves storytelling into her custom installations," 6 June 2019 Physicist Aguirre borrows from the Zen Buddhist tradition of koans, or contemplative riddles, to present some of his field’s most esoteric concepts. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "The Best Science Books to Read For Summer 2019," 7 May 2019

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

20 Jul 2019

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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

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something desired as essential

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