noun con·ten·tion \ kən-ˈten(t)-shən \
|Updated on: 8 Jul 2018

Definition of contention

1 : a point advanced or maintained in a debate or argument
  • It is his contention that allowing a casino to be built would not be in the best interests of the city.
2 : an act or instance of contending
  • He has taken himself out of contention for the directorship.

Examples of contention in a Sentence

  1. Tiger Woods splashed his way into contention in the New Zealand Open … shooting a four under par to close within six strokes of the lead. New York Times13 Jan. 2002
  2. The issues behind the protest are the usual bones of collective-bargaining contention: pay increases, vacation time, union membership. —Louis MenandNew Yorker17 & 24 June 2002
  3. Science, and academic scholarship in general, the contention these days goes, is too subjective. Some even allege it's entirely subjective, as is, they say, history. —Carl SaganThe Demon-Haunted World1996
  4. All quotes from QDB.
  5. That has been a source of contention for years.

  6. He is in contention for the Olympic medal.

Recent Examples of contention from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contention.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of contention

Middle English contencioun, from Anglo-French cuntenciun, from Latin contention-, contentio, from contendere

Synonym Discussion of contention

discord, strife, conflict, contention, dissension, variance mean a state or condition marked by a lack of agreement or harmony. discord implies an intrinsic or essential lack of harmony producing quarreling, factiousness, or antagonism.
    • a political party long racked by discord
strife emphasizes a struggle for superiority rather than the incongruity or incompatibility of the persons or things involved.
    • during his brief reign the empire was never free of civil strife
conflict usually stresses the action of forces in opposition but in static applications implies an irreconcilability as of duties or desires.
    • the conflict of freedom and responsibility
contention applies to strife or competition that shows itself in quarreling, disputing, or controversy.
    • several points of contention about the new zoning law
dissension implies strife or discord and stresses a division into factions.
    • religious dissension threatened to split the colony
variance implies a clash between persons or things owing to a difference in nature, opinion, or interest.
    • cultural variances that work against a national identity

CONTENTION Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of contention for English Language Learners

  • : something (such as a belief, opinion, or idea) that is argued or stated

  • : anger and disagreement

  • : a situation in which you have a chance to win something that you are trying to win

CONTENTION Defined for Kids


noun con·ten·tion \ kən-ˈten-chən \

Definition of contention for Students

1 : something that is argued
  • It's my contention that watching television is a waste of time.
2 : anger and disagreement
3 : a state or situation of having a chance to win
  • She's in contention for the gold medal.

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to beat or defeat soundly

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