con·​trac·​tion | \ kən-ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce contraction (audio) \

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 How to pronounce contraction (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
contractive \ kən-​ˈtrak-​tiv How to pronounce contraction (audio) , ˈkän-​ˌtrak-​ How to pronounce contraction (audio) \ adjective
contractionary \ kən-​ˈtrak-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce contraction (audio) \ 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 Most of the 25% decline of the last 3 years can be attributed to a contraction of the company’s P/E multiple. Trefis Team, Forbes, "Here’s Why 3M Stock Looks Undervalued At $175," 2 Mar. 2021 For the United States, the IMF forecasts an economic contraction of 4.3% this year, 3.7 percentage points better than in its June forecast. Martin Crutsinger, Star Tribune, "IMF envisions a sharp 4.4% drop in global growth for 2020," 13 Oct. 2020 These cuts don’t add up to the sweeping contraction of government that Mr. Trump and his top officials had hoped for. New York Times, "The Government Agencies That Became Smaller, and Unhappier, Under Trump," 1 Feb. 2021 Growth this year is expected to follow a contraction of 2.5% in 2020, when the pandemic hit, according to the survey. Anthony Debarros, WSJ, "WSJ Survey: U.S. Economic Growth Will Exceed 4% in 2021," 14 Jan. 2021 Southeast Asia’s largest economy is bracing for an annual contraction of as much as 2.2% this year as restrictions to slow the spread of the virus impede an economic recovery. Arys Aditya,, "Jokowi Replaces Indonesia Health Minister as Covid Deaths Spike," 22 Dec. 2020 The World Bank projects the global economy to have pulled back by 4.3% last year, dragged down by a 7.4% contraction in the eurozone. Jonathan Cheng, WSJ, "China Still Grew and Fueled Its Rise as Covid-19 Shook the Global Economy," 18 Jan. 2021 The country's Federal Statistics Office on Thursday forecast a 5% contraction in the economy in 2020 compared to the previous year, based on provisional GDP estimates. Hanna Ziady, CNN, "Germany's recession wasn't as bad as 2009," 14 Jan. 2021 Goldman Sachs expects the Fed to revise its forecast to a 2.5% contraction this year and unemployment of 6.8% at year-end. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Amid surging COVID-19, Fed could take steps to lower mortgage rates, boost economy," 16 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for contraction

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for contraction

Last Updated

8 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contraction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for contraction



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


con·​trac·​tion | \ kən-ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce contraction (audio) \

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


con·​trac·​tion | \ kən-ˈtrak-shən How to pronounce contraction (audio) \

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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