con·​ten·​tion | \ kən-ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce contention (audio) \

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

Synonyms for contention


Visit the Thesaurus 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 The Lakers and their opponents, the Utah Jazz, already had been eliminated from playoff contention. Los Angeles Times, "Dropping 60 in finale ‘too unbelievable,’ Kobe Bryant said in 2018 video interview," 13 Apr. 2021 Stafford and Goff both seem grateful for their fresh starts, even if Goff's next steps appear to take him farther away from championship contention in 2021. Greg Beacham, Star Tribune, "Stafford, Goff welcome fresh starts after blockbuster trade," 19 Mar. 2021 Stafford and Goff both seem grateful for their fresh starts, even if Goff's next steps appear to take him farther away from championship contention in 2021. Greg Beacham, ajc, "Stafford, Goff welcome fresh starts after blockbuster trade," 19 Mar. 2021 White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not rule out withdrawing Tanden's name from contention. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "Biden chief of staff says administration will find another job for Neera Tanden if not confirmed for OMB," 24 Feb. 2021 With the Spurs mathematically eliminated from playoff contention heading into their regular-season finale against Utah in August, Popovich sat many of his veterans. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "For his toil and trouble, Spurs' Samanic gets a double bubble," 4 Feb. 2021 On the season’s final day at Candlestick Park, a day after the Dodgers eliminated the Giants from contention, the Giants returned the favor on Joe Morgan’s three-run home run onto the facing of the right-field football seats, securing a 5-3 win. John Shea,, "Tommy Lasorda, ‘lovable villain’ in Giants-Dodgers rivalry, dies at 93," 8 Jan. 2021 The Bills captured the No. 2 seed in the A.F.C. with a 13-3 record — their best finish since 1991 — while the Dolphins were eliminated from playoff contention by the combination of their loss and Indianapolis’ victory over Jacksonville. New York Times, "What We Learned From Week 17 of the N.F.L. Season," 3 Jan. 2021 And while the Chargers (7-9) finished with four straight wins, and Herbert has emerged as their franchise quarterback, the fate of Lynn may have been sealed weeks ago when they were eliminated from playoff contention for the second consecutive year. oregonlive, "Justin Herbert’s 3 TD passes lead the L.A. Chargers past Kansas City: Recap, score, stats and more," 3 Jan. 2021

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 "dissension, dispute," borrowed from Anglo-French cuntençun, contencion, borrowed from Latin contentiōn-, contentiō "exertion, competition, conflict," from conten-, variant stem of contendere "to strain, make an effort, strive, compete" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at contend

Note: Regarding the variant -ten- with deverbal suffixes beginning in -t- (so contentiō rather than *contensiō), see the note at tender entry 3.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contention

Time Traveler for contention

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for contention

Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

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

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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 How to pronounce contention (audio) \

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!