pon·​der ˈpän-dər How to pronounce ponder (audio)
pondered; pondering ˈpän-d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce ponder (audio)

transitive verb

: to weigh in the mind : appraise
pondered their chances of success
: to think about : reflect on
pondered the events of the day

intransitive verb

: to think or consider especially quietly, soberly, and deeply
ponderer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for ponder

ponder, meditate, muse, ruminate mean to consider or examine attentively or deliberately.

ponder implies a careful weighing of a problem or, often, prolonged inconclusive thinking about a matter.

pondered the course of action

meditate implies a definite focusing of one's thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply.

meditated on the meaning of life

muse suggests a more or less focused daydreaming as in remembrance.

mused upon childhood joys

ruminate implies going over the same matter in one's thoughts again and again but suggests little of either purposive thinking or rapt absorption.

ruminated on past disappointments

Examples of ponder in a Sentence

He pondered the question before he answered. The team pondered their chances of success. We pondered whether we could afford the trip.
Recent Examples on the Web These are just some of the questions being asked as Oceanside city officials ponder the possibility of converting a vacant section of Ron Ortega Park into a place where dogs can run free. Lola Sherman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Nov. 2023 Looking to the future, researchers are also pondering gene editing approaches that have the potential to permanently reduce LDL in a single injection—but according to Wong, that’s still a while away. Kristen Fischer, Health, 17 Nov. 2023 The only movie goers likely to ponder whether to let the MCU go for good now are Mr. and Mrs. Joe B. General Public. David Betancourt, Washington Post, 16 Nov. 2023 That has led to a crossroads, as farmers, ranchers and agriculture companies ponder what should be grown and what best practices look like for an agrarian system that humans have refined for more than 12,000 years. Laura Reiley, Washington Post, 10 Nov. 2023 Utah State also had a week off to ponder life after back-to-back losses to Fresno State (37-32) and San Jose State (42-21) followed a then-encouraging win over Colorado State (44-24). Kirk Kenney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Oct. 2023 Americans remember the atomic bombardments of Japan, but less to mourn civilians’ suffering than to mark the war’s end or to ponder the dawn of the nuclear age. Foreign Affairs, 20 Oct. 2023 There’s a world of work, hurt, absurdity, and hope in Chicken Hill, offering McBride ample ways to ponder the appeal and elusiveness of the American dream. Erin Douglass, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Oct. 2023 This led me to ponder the influence of Norman Lear and his iconic character, Archie Bunker. Les Borsai, SPIN, 1 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ponder.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Middle French ponderer, from Latin ponderare to weigh, ponder, from ponder-, pondus weight — more at pendant

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ponder was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near ponder

Cite this Entry

“Ponder.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ponder. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


pon·​der ˈpän-dər How to pronounce ponder (audio)
pondered; pondering -d(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce ponder (audio)
: to consider carefully
ponderer noun

More from Merriam-Webster on ponder

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