con·​tes·​ta·​tion | \ ˌkän-ˌte-ˈstā-shən How to pronounce contestation (audio) \

Definition of contestation

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The Latin phrase lītem contestārī can be translated as "to join issue in a legal suit," which in layperson's terms means to reach the point in a lawsuit when it's clear to the parties involved what the exact nature of the dispute is. Lītem contestārī is the probable ultimate source of both contestation and contest, the latter having first come to English as a verb meaning "to make the subject of dispute, contention, or battle." But while contest has gone on to have a life at home in another part of speech and in contexts ranging from sports to art, contestation continues to dwell mainly in serious speech and writing about adversarial dynamics between groups of people.

Examples of contestation in a Sentence

the statement is certainly open to contestation among reasonable people
Recent Examples on the Web As noted above, the Amazon is only the most visible arena of environmental contestation. Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, 7 July 2022 The first phase was embodied by the direct contestation of the Never Trump Republicans, of Mitt Romney and Bill Kristol and later Liz Cheney, who openly abhorred the former casino billionaire’s authoritarianism. The New Yorker, 23 May 2022 Democracies have parliaments, judiciaries, parties, political contestation, civil societies, freedom of speech and assembly, and elections. Alexander Motyl, The Conversation, 30 Mar. 2022 This contestation is manifested in the Native Land map. Abby Levene, Outside Online, 29 Jan. 2022 There is an unfortunate tendency in this book, and in liberal commentary in general, to overstate the uniqueness of the partisan contestation of election results in this country today. Jacob Bacharach, The New Republic, 4 Jan. 2022 The passionate rhetoric abandons any pretense to liberal ideals of reasoned deliberation and contestation within a shared constitutional framework. Laura Field, The New Republic, 26 Oct. 2021 And indeed, given the intense political contestation surrounding Covid-19, a memorial to Covid deaths might even draw vandalism, like the bust of George Floyd in New York City's Union Square. Martha Lincoln, CNN, 25 Oct. 2021 The report highlighted the Arctic as one such likely zone of major international contestation as its ice caps continue to melt, as well as new battles forming over water and waves of climate migrants being forced to leave their homes. Washington Post, 25 Oct. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of contestation

1580, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for contestation

borrowed from Middle French, "dispute, debate," earlier, "joinder of issue in law," probably borrowed from Old Occitan contestacion, borrowed from Latin contestātiōn-, contestātiō, from Latin (lītem) contestārī "to join issue in a legal suit" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at contest entry 1

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The first known use of contestation was in 1580

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contested election

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Last Updated

29 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contestation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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