contraction

noun
con·​trac·​tion | \kən-ˈtrak-shən \

Definition of contraction 

1a : the action or process of contracting The hot metal undergoes contraction as it cools. : the state of being contracted

b : the shortening and thickening of a functioning muscle or muscle fiber

c : a reduction in business activity or growth

d : the act of acquiring or incurring (something, such as a debt) or catching (something, such as an infection) contraction of pneumonia

2 : a shortening of a word, syllable, or word group by omission of a sound or letter also : a form produced by such shortening "They'll" is a contraction for "they will."

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Other Words from contraction

contractional \kən-​ˈtrak-​shnəl, -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
contractive \kən-​ˈtrak-​tiv, ˈkän-​ˌtrak-​ \ adjective
contractionary \kən-​ˈtrak-​shə-​ˌner-​ē \ adjective

Examples of contraction in a Sentence

The hot metal undergoes contraction as it cools. Two teams were eliminated in the contraction of the baseball league. She felt contractions every two minutes.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Geologists thought the contraction caused wrinkles to form on the surface, like a grape drying into a raisin. Meg Neal, Popular Mechanics, "We’ve Been Wrong Before: The Expanding Earth Theory," 3 Aug. 2018 The contraction amounts to 10,000 barrels of oil per day not sold—a small change for the US economy but potentially a harbinger of things to come. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "US energy agency: Sorry coal, natural gas is having another record summer," 11 July 2018 The top of our daughter’s head kept emerging, but after the pushing and the contractions, her head would retract. Amber Leventry, Longreads, "Making Peace with Selective Reduction," 29 June 2018 This contraction of various facial muscles resonates across the entire arc of human history, from the grinning Greek kouros sculptures of 2,500 years ago right up to emoji, those little images that pepper our online communications. Neil Steinberg, CNN, "How far would you go to be able to smile?," 13 June 2018 South Africa’s economy shrank by 2.2% at an annual rate in the first quarter, the worst contraction in almost a decade. The Economist, "Business this week," 7 June 2018 Once there, Stephanie was put on magnesium to stop the contractions. USA TODAY, "Photos capture newborn's miraculous time on Earth," 2 May 2018 The March decline was the first monthly drop since last July and the biggest contraction since a 1.8 percent fall in April 2017, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. BostonGlobe.com, "Senators band together to fight closure of Boston office that handles federal employee rights," 2 May 2018 In fact, the relationship is negative, suggesting fiscal profligacy led to contraction and fiscal responsibility would have been better. Edmund Phelps, WSJ, "The Fantasy of Fiscal Stimulus," 29 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contraction.' 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 contraction

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contraction

see contract entry 1

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Statistics for contraction

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contraction

The first known use of contraction was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for contraction

contraction

noun

English Language Learners Definition of contraction

: the act or process of making something smaller or of becoming smaller

medical : a movement of a muscle that causes it to become tight and that is sometimes painful; especially : a movement of muscles in the womb when a woman is giving birth to a child

: a short form of a word or word group that is made by leaving out a sound or letter

contraction

noun
con·​trac·​tion | \kən-ˈtrak-shən \

Kids Definition of contraction

1 : the act, process, or result of making or becoming smaller or shorter and broader contraction of a muscle

2 : a short form of a word or word group (as don't or they've) produced by leaving out a letter or letters

contraction

noun
con·​trac·​tion | \kən-ˈtrak-shən \

Medical Definition of contraction 

1 : the action or process of contracting : the state of being contracted contraction of hepatitis lung expansion and contraction in breathing— P. G. Donohue

2 : the action of a functioning muscle or muscle fiber in which force is generated accompanied especially by shortening and thickening of the muscle or muscle fiber or sometimes by its lengthening isometric contraction isotonic contraction especially : the shortening and thickening of a functioning muscle or muscle fiber

3 : one of usually a series of rhythmic tightening actions of the uterine muscles (as during menstruation or labor)

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