con·​tend | \ kən-ˈtend How to pronounce contend (audio) \
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

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 rewriting the past, Putin has to contend with the present. Frida Ghitis, CNN, 9 May 2022 Democrats in Wisconsin, up to and including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, will have to contend with an 1849 state law criminalizing abortions in almost all circumstances; the law has been unenforceable since Roe but has not been repealed. Rick Klein, ABC News, 6 May 2022 As for content moderation standards, Mr. Musk will have to contend with a new law in the European Union aimed at regulating harmful speech on social media. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 May 2022 In addition to trying to rebuild its franchise without longtime star Parker, the Sparks also had to contend with injury woes last season. Los Angeles Times, 4 May 2022 Women hybrid workers are also more likely to have to contend with microaggressions such as being interrupted or talked over in meetings and being patronized by coworkers, according to Deloitte’s research. Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, 26 Apr. 2022 Olave will have to contend with NFL opponents that will try to exploit his relatively slight build — a fraction over 6 feet and 187 pounds. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Apr. 2022 Finally, as for the price, Google has to contend with the new $429 iPhone SE. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 13 Apr. 2022 Any court would have to contend with complicated issues such as whether a primary could be viewed as a public election or as an event held by a private organization that is administered with government help. Brian Slodysko,, 5 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of contend

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

History and Etymology for contend

Middle English contenden, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French contendre, going back to Latin contendere "to draw tight, strain, make an effort, strive, compete," from con- con- + tendere "to extend outward, stretch, spread out, aim (at a purpose)" — more at tender entry 3

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Time Traveler for contend

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

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Dictionary Entries Near contend

contemptus mundi



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Statistics for contend

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for contend


con·​tend | \ kən-ˈtend How to pronounce contend (audio) \
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.

More from Merriam-Webster on contend

Nglish: Translation of contend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contend for Arabic Speakers


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