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."

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Valuation multiples could see a contraction from peak levels if the supply of actionable deals begins to outstrip demand. Jack Chang, Forbes, 16 June 2022 This distance and angle challenges your biceps at the start of the curl, while also forcing a strong contraction at the finish. Jeff Tomko, Men's Health, 13 June 2022 The economy is still facing a number of headwinds, with two of the 10 leading indicators in S&P Global Rating’s U.S. Business Cycle Barometer — the S&P 500 and consumer sentiment — flashing negative, signaling a contraction. Beth Ann Bovino For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, 13 June 2022 As recently as the end of May, the CEO predicted a less than 50% chance of a contraction occurring. Tristan Bove, Fortune, 13 June 2022 Inflation, and the economy’s contraction, turned out to be less severe than expected, the note said. New York Times, 10 June 2022 The World Bank on Tuesday forecast that the country’s economy will contract by 8.9% this year and 2% in 2023, and that contraction could deepen if Europe’s governments take further action to reduce their imports of Russian energy. Paul Hannon, WSJ, 8 June 2022 The service sector remained deep in contraction territory in May, the third consecutive month, according to the monthly Caixin Purchasing Manager’s Index. Patrick Frater, Variety, 5 June 2022 The economy actually shrank at a 1.5 percent annual rate in the first three months of this year, although the contraction appears to have been caused by statistical oddities. Jim Puzzanghera,, 3 June 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near contraction

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Statistics for contraction

Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contraction.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for contraction


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)

More from Merriam-Webster on contraction

Nglish: Translation of contraction for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contraction for Arabic Speakers


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