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

Definition of contestation

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If you guessed that contestation is somehow connected to "contest," you're right. They're linked both through meaning and through etymology. Contest can be a verb meaning "to dispute," and contestation essentially means "an act, instance, or state of contesting." Both words can be traced to the Latin verb contestari, meaning "to call to witness." Contestari itself comes from testis, a Latin noun meaning "witness," which is also the source of attest ("to bear witness to"), testify ("to bear witness"), and testimony ("a declaration made by a witness"), among others.

Examples of contestation in a Sentence

the statement is certainly open to contestation among reasonable people
Recent Examples on the Web The exact number of works made off with is the subject of contestation. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, 4 June 2021 Progress on the Big Questions requires contestation. Emily Chamlee-wright, Forbes, 16 Apr. 2021 Third, a legitimate electoral process and outcome is central to political power contestation and periodic change of governments. David E Kiwuwa, Quartz Africa, 4 Nov. 2020 Elections are the quintessential arbiter of political contestation within democratic countries. David E Kiwuwa, Quartz Africa, 4 Nov. 2020 Throughout the culture wars of the past half century, the syllabus has been a site of contestation, as reading lists were scrutinized for questions of diversity, inclusion, and how much canons had changed. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, 22 Oct. 2020 That contestation led to mass death in places that, for many Americans, might as well be another planet. Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, 5 June 2020 Withholding or providing resources to particular groups can harm vulnerable groups or lead to contestations that are socially destabilizing. Nimi Hoffman, Quartz Africa, 11 Dec. 2019 But taking this route is inevitably a recipe for contestation, protestation and even violent confrontation. Moses Khisa, Quartz Africa, 21 June 2019

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.

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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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Last Updated

11 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contestation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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