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

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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 At the Empire State Building, there’s another factor to contend with: not only are offices emptying across the city, but tourism traffic has taken a hit too. Time, "The Empire State Building Opened During the Great Depression. Its Survival Story Holds a Lesson for Today," 30 Apr. 2021 Companies like Google also have to contend with fierce debates about internet privacy and tracking users. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "Big Tech is tightening its grip on the ads business," 28 Apr. 2021 Those operations were built to contend in the Scott era not because of the Pac-12 but in spite of it. John Canzano, oregonlive, "Canzano: Have Pac-12 presidents not learned from the Larry Scott debacle?," 28 Apr. 2021 Without Earth’s gravity to contend with, researchers can grow better cells for study, and proteins also cluster better for research into Alzheimer’s and other diseases. Lee Roop |, al, "Alabama now has 20 years of talking astronauts on International Space Station through science," 28 Apr. 2021 This is a big deal for automakers, which have regulations and emissions standards to contend with (requirements which could very well get more stringent in the coming years). Patrick Moorhead, Forbes, "Self-Driving Truck Company Plus Demonstrates Commitment To Sustainability With Eco-Friendly Collaborators," 27 Apr. 2021 Arenado says he was assured the Rockies would continue aiming to contend. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Colorado Rockies' Jeff Bridich steps down as GM, two months after trading Nolan Arenado," 27 Apr. 2021 Black residents had to contend with discriminatory housing and employment practices well into the 20th century., "State efforts to pay reparations to descendants of slaves stall at state level amid cries for federal action," 25 Apr. 2021 Zendaya's stylist Law Roach, who was inspired by Cher for the look, posted a video of her on the red carpet trying to contend with the wind. Shannon Carlin,, "Midriff-Baring Looks Were A Big Red Carpet Trend At The Oscars — Just Ask Zendaya," 25 Apr. 2021

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 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for contend

Last Updated

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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 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.

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Comments on contend

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