con·ten·tion | \kən-ˈten(t)-shən \

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of contention in a Sentence

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 Times, 13 Jan. 2002 The issues behind the protest are the usual bones of collective-bargaining contention: pay increases, vacation time, union membership. — Louis Menand, New Yorker, 17 & 24 June 2002 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 Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, 1996 All quotes from QDB. That has been a source of contention for years. He is in contention for the Olympic medal.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

That clearly remains a point of contention with North Korea. Fox News, "Trump says he's still confident Kim will denuclearize," 10 July 2018 Ochoa kept his team in contention with more heroics as the second half progressed, including a diving save on Willian, but Mexico simply lacked the attacking composure needed to offer any kind of legitimate threat. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Mexico heartbroken again with World Cup round of 16 loss against Brazil," 2 July 2018 Olesen had played himself into contention with a 61, the lowest round in tournament history., "Bubba Watson comes from 6 back to win Travelers title," 24 June 2018 The military exercises, which often involve U.S. military ships and planes, have long been a point of contention with the Koreans. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "Kim Jong Un Will Start Denuclearizing 'Immediately,' President Trump Says in Post-Summit Interview," 12 June 2018 Brazil’s Neymar, England’s Harry Kane, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, France’s Antoine Griezmann and Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne are stars who could lift themselves into Player of the Year contention with stellar World Cups. Washington Post, "Germany looks to become 1st repeat Cup champ in half-century," 12 June 2018 Contenders can easily fall out of contention with a misstep on the 192-yard hole over water. Drew Davison, star-telegram, "Going to Colonial this weekend? These holes are best places to watch | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 25 May 2018 The club's ownership wrangle continues to be a point of contention, with funding for a potential summer spending spree still very much up in the air., "Beleaguered Newcastle Boss Full of Praise For Squad Mentality Despite Continued Off-Field Turbulence," 15 May 2018 One of the key points of contention with the Republican Party in the state is immigration. Adam Nagourney, New York Times, "An Urgent Debate for California Republicans: How to Get Back in the Game," 6 May 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of contention

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for contention

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contention

Share contention

Statistics for contention

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contention

The first known use of contention was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for contention



English Language Learners Definition of contention

: 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


con·ten·tion | \kən-ˈten-chən \

Kids Definition of contention

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on contention

What made you want to look up contention? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!