con·​tend | \ kən-ˈtend \
contended; contending; contends

Definition of contend

intransitive verb

1 : to strive or vie in contest or rivalry or against difficulties : struggle contended with the problems of municipal government will contend for the championship this year
2 : to strive in debate : argue

transitive verb

1 : maintain, assert contended that he was right contends that the new law would help only the wealthy
2 : to struggle for : contest She contended every point, objected to every request …— Margaret Mead

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Examples of contend in a Sentence

These people contend that they have earned the right to the land. The team is expected to contend for the championship this year.

Recent Examples on the Web

In a court filing, Omega contended Cyrus was effectively an insider at Sears, with the ability to exert influence or control over it. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Sears Bankruptcy Battle Tests Swaps Market," 19 Dec. 2018 Garrett contended the agency had failed to prevent the financial collapse that began in 2007 and should not be rewarded. Herb Jackson, USA TODAY, "Jersey payback: Rep. BIll Pascrell wants GOP foe Scott Garrett's federal salary cut to $1," 13 July 2018 Some city council members contended the mayor was inappropriately offering favors to church members and filed requests for his impeachment. Washington Post, "Rio city council votes against opening impeachment of mayor," 12 July 2018 The Democrats contended that an election was required to fill the office of lieutenant governor now that Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has ascended to governor. Bryan Lowry, kansascity, "Judge throws out lawsuit seeking to block Parson from appointing lieutenant governor," 11 July 2018 The cities also contended that the companies knew the global dangers for decades and hid that information while protecting their assets. Katie Langin, Science | AAAS, "Top stories: Chocolate money, the rise of multicellularity, and pet rabbit brains," 29 June 2018 Arteaga contended the pharmacist in her case did not comply with company policy, despite the fact that two other pharmacists were working at the time. Bree Burkitt, azcentral, "Arizona board to investigate complaint over pharmacist's denial of miscarriage medication," 25 June 2018 Kilsheimer previously contended the complaint was politically motivated to hurt his re-election chances. Stephen Hudak,, "Former Apopka Mayor Kilsheimer faces ethics charge," 15 June 2018 Chirinos, though, contended that the rule is clear. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Collision didn't leave Chirinos miffed at Kemp. So, what did?," 13 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for contend

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French contendre, from Latin contendere, from com- + tendere to stretch — more at thin

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Statistics for contend

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contend

The first known use of contend was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for contend



English Language Learners Definition of contend

: to argue or state (something) in a strong and definite way

: to compete with someone or for something : to compete with a good chance of winning


con·​tend | \ kən-ˈtend \
contended; contending

Kids Definition of contend

1 : compete contend for a prize
2 : to try hard to deal with He has many problems to contend with.
3 : to argue or state earnestly She contends the test was unfair.

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More from Merriam-Webster on contend

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contend

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contend

Spanish Central: Translation of contend

Nglish: Translation of contend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contend for Arabic Speakers

Comments on contend

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


a complex dispute or argument

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