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 House Democrats contend that claims of any wrongdoing involving the former vice president’s son amount to debunked conspiracy theories and that Trump only became interested after Biden announced his presidential campaign. Daniel Flatley,, "Trump Team Wraps Up Impeachment Defense With Bolton Testimony in Question," 15 May 2020 On March 13, police contend that the gunfire began when Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired first, wounding an officer. Tessa Duvall, The Courier-Journal, "Shooting victim Breonna Taylor's lawyer to Louisville police: 'Get your damn story straight'," 13 May 2020 Three adult sisters contend to see who will inherit their father's Packers tickets. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee Repertory Theater delays opening of next season to Oct. 30 and cuts budget," 12 May 2020 The plaintiffs in the case - the Texas Democratic Party and several voting rights groups - contend that Sulak’s order remains in place. James Barragán, Dallas News, "Dallas activist seeks investigation into Attorney General Ken Paxton for mail ballot comments," 11 May 2020 The new video was recorded minutes before the killing near Brunswick, Ga., and proves Arbery wasn’t involved in a crime, lawyers for Arbery’s family contend. Fox News, "Ahmaud Arbery case: Additional video being reviewed, authorities say," 10 May 2020 Unions and public employee groups across the state contend the law violates the 60-year California Rule, which says employees are entitled to the pension they were promised on their first day of work. Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times, "California Supreme Court hears suit on public pension law aimed at saving billions," 5 May 2020 Democrats contend these indicators are proof Collins has done irreparable damage to the centrist image that inoculated her from spirited challenges in previous campaigns. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "Democrats gunning for moderate GOP Sen. Susan Collins as centrist Maine polarizes," 22 Apr. 2020 Green's attorneys contend that prosecutors simply accepted Hallock's story without properly investigating it and then pressured witnesses to testify against Green. Erin Moriarty, CBS News, "Did a young white woman cause a wrongful conviction by blaming a murder on a "black guy"?," 17 Apr. 2020

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

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contend.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for contend


How to pronounce contend (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on contend

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contend

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contend

Spanish Central: Translation of contend

Nglish: Translation of contend for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contend for Arabic Speakers

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