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

Collins told Jane Doe's parents the investigation was complete on Mar. 9, 2018, and the safety plan would be put in place, but the suit contends Jane Doe was never moved to a different class. al, "Alabama first-grader sexually assaulted at school, lawsuit claims," 16 Sep. 2019 New York, Massachusetts, and others contend that the Sacklers drained more than $4 billion from Purdue since 2007, moving much of it offshore to avoid future claims., "Most read on," 14 Sep. 2019 President Donald Trump and other Republicans contend the law is fatally flawed, while Democrats maintain it has been undermined by recent GOP policies. Amy Goldstein, Anchorage Daily News, "Share of Americans without health insurance increases, Census Bureau reports," 10 Sep. 2019 Critics contend the philosophy led to widespread leniency for out-of-control children. Megan O'matz,, "Andrew Pollack’s new book searches for answers about why his daughter died in Parkland," 10 Sep. 2019 But other experts contend that sweeping government bans can have the reverse effect and lead to an uptick. Fox News, "California lawmakers retreat on hookah ban citing 'Middle East cultural tradition'," 8 Sep. 2019 Some contend, with justification, that Trump has not made democracy and freedom central to his foreign policy. Chen Guangcheng, Twin Cities, "Chen Guangcheng: Trump has the right strategy on Beijing. As a Chinese dissident, I’d know.," 5 Sep. 2019 These companies contend the ruling threatens to hamstring patent royalties not just for Qualcomm but for other firms across a variety of industries. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Legal, economics experts join Justice Department in seeking reversal of monopoly ruling against Qualcomm," 3 Sep. 2019 Members of the Stop EtO in Lake County group contend the project, scheduled to be considered Sept. 3 by the Waukegan City Council, would allow Medline to dilute its pollution rather than limit the toxic emissions. Michael Hawthorne,, "A year later, fight against ethylene oxide persists: ‘These folks aren’t going away.’," 30 Aug. 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 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contend

Statistics for contend

Last Updated

9 Oct 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).


to fake an opponent out of position

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!