con·​tem·​plate | \ ˈkän-təm-ˌplāt How to pronounce contemplate (audio) , -ˌtem-\
contemplated; contemplating

Definition of contemplate

transitive verb

1 : to view or consider with continued attention : meditate on contemplate the vastness of the universe contemplated the meaning of the poem
2 : to view as likely or probable or as an end or intention contemplate marriage contemplated a move to Alaska

intransitive verb

: ponder, meditate wanted time to just sit and contemplate

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from contemplate

contemplator \ ˈkän-​təm-​ˌplā-​tər How to pronounce contemplator (audio) , -​ˌtem \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for contemplate

consider, study, contemplate, weigh mean to think about in order to arrive at a judgment or decision. consider may suggest giving thought to in order to reach a suitable conclusion, opinion, or decision. refused even to consider my proposal study implies sustained purposeful concentration and attention to details and minutiae. study the plan closely contemplate stresses focusing one's thoughts on something but does not imply coming to a conclusion or decision. contemplate the consequences of refusing weigh implies attempting to reach the truth or arrive at a decision by balancing conflicting claims or evidence. weigh the pros and cons of the case

Examples of contemplate in a Sentence

He contemplated the meaning of the poem for a long time. I'd like some time to just sit and contemplate. She stood and quietly contemplated the scene that lay before her.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Booker, who is openly contemplating a 2020 bid, campaigns for South Carolina Democrats on Thursday. Juana Summers, The Seattle Times, "2020 Democrats building ties to power brokers in key states," 15 Oct. 2018 Baez said that Hernandez’s note addressed to him showed no indication the former NFL star was contemplating suicide. Katherine Lam, Fox News, "Aaron Hernandez's suicide notes to lawyer, fiancée and daughter revealed," 19 Aug. 2018 The news that Jordan was contemplating a move was first reported by The New York Times' Marc Stein. Charlotte Carroll,, "Report: DeAndre Jordan Will Opt Out of Clippers Contract," 28 June 2018 Michigan’s is unlikely to be submitted until this fall and will have to get in line, along with those from Virginia and South Dakota, which also are contemplating waivers. Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press, "4 things to know about Michigan's Medicaid work requirements," 14 June 2018 One message indicates Fields was contemplating urinating on the girl himself, reports the paper. Chris Harris,, "'Smack Her A--': Disturbing Texts Revealed Between Couple Accused of Torturing, Killing 4-Year-Old Girl," 14 May 2018 But that doesn’t really explain why the administration is contemplating doing this. Dara Lind, Vox, "The Trump administration reportedly wants to try family separation again," 12 Oct. 2018 There is no sign that Kim Jong Un is contemplating what nuclear experts say has to be the first step: a full disclosure of his weapons program, to create a baseline for future inspection and verification, fundamental to any arms-control agreement. NBC News, "North Korea shatters Trump's boastful assurances of an easy path to denuclearization," 7 July 2018 George, who will forgo a $20.7 million salary for this upcoming season, hasn’t decided on his plans and is still contemplating a future with the Thunder. USA TODAY, "Report: Paul George to opt out of contract with Thunder, become unrestricted free agent," 28 June 2018

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

circa 1533, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for contemplate

Latin contemplatus, past participle of contemplari, from com- + templum space marked out for observation of auguries — more at temple

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contemplate

Share contemplate

Statistics for contemplate

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contemplate

The first known use of contemplate was circa 1533

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for contemplate



English Language Learners Definition of contemplate

: to think deeply or carefully about (something)
: to think deeply
: to think about doing (something)


con·​tem·​plate | \ ˈkän-təm-ˌplāt How to pronounce contemplate (audio) \
contemplated; contemplating

Kids Definition of contemplate

1 : to look at with careful and thoughtful attention
2 : to think about deeply and carefully
3 : to have in mind : plan on Maybe we should contemplate a trip to Europe.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on contemplate

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


the way words of a language are spelled

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!