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

Keep scrolling for more

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

The Knicks were hoping to sign Durant, pair him with a second star (Kyrie Irving), fill out the roster and contend next season. Chris Mannix,, "Where Will Kawhi Go? Five Biggest Questions of the NBA Offseason," 14 June 2019 Despite all the problems USAG must contend with, Leung is determined to turn it around. Alice Park, Time, "Can Anyone Save the Scandal-Plagued USA Gymnastics? Li Li Leung Is Determined to Try," 13 June 2019 Even as a talented forward, Withers will have to wait in line behind Cards veterans Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton while also contending with freshman wing Samuell Williamson. Danielle Lerner, The Courier-Journal, "'His skill set is crazy': Jaelyn Withers may be Louisville's most underrated freshman," 4 June 2019 Related: Four candidates, some new and others familiar, contend for San Antonio’s City Council District 6 With tension building between Brockhouse and Nirenberg, early voting turnout for the runoffs has also been strong. Lauren Caruba,, "Candidates in San Antonio City Council District 6 runoff say voters more energized, polarized," 4 June 2019 Her impossibly chic and on trend outfit (obviously designed by the artist herself) was contended by her mom’s summery ruffled dress. Tatum Dooley, Teen Vogue, "What Bella Hadid, Miley Cyrus and Rihanna Wore This Week," 31 May 2019 Clotilda kept her secrets over the decades, even as some deniers contended that the shameful episode never occurred. National Geographic, "Last American slave ship is discovered in Alabama," 22 May 2019 One recently settled lawsuit contended employers should have protected employees from plan administrators using their information to sell them products. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, "A New Fight Breaks Out Over 401(k) Fees," 8 May 2019 Critics also contend that the cost of creating the new weapons is ultimately unnecessary and wasteful. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Trump Administration Begins Production of New Nuclear Weapon," 1 Feb. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contend

Statistics for contend

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contend

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 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.

Keep scrolling for more

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 device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!