con·​tem·​plate ˈkän-təm-ˌplāt How to pronounce contemplate (audio)
contemplated; contemplating

transitive verb

: to view or consider with continued attention : meditate on
contemplate the vastness of the universe
contemplated the meaning of the poem
: to view as likely or probable or as an end or intention
contemplate marriage
contemplated a move to Alaska

intransitive verb

: ponder, meditate
wanted time to just sit and contemplate
contemplator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for contemplate

consider, study, contemplate, weigh mean to think about in order to arrive at a judgment or decision.

consider may suggest giving thought to in order to reach a suitable conclusion, opinion, or decision.

refused even to consider my proposal

study implies sustained purposeful concentration and attention to details and minutiae.

study the plan closely

contemplate stresses focusing one's thoughts on something but does not imply coming to a conclusion or decision.

contemplate the consequences of refusing

weigh implies attempting to reach the truth or arrive at a decision by balancing conflicting claims or evidence.

weigh the pros and cons of the case

Example Sentences

He contemplated the meaning of the poem for a long time. I'd like some time to just sit and contemplate. She stood and quietly contemplated the scene that lay before her.
Recent Examples on the Web Now the reigning champion will be forced to watch from the sidelines and contemplate her meteoric rise and fall. David Axelrod, CNN, 1 Mar. 2023 And pace and pause and contemplate and direct visitors to the restrooms and the mummies. Mary Jo Murphy, Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2023 Cambridge did contemplate building its own on-site childcare facility, Webber says, but the investment firm worried about the impact on the small community. Bymegan Leonhardt, Fortune, 7 Mar. 2023 Malone’s presence as a Utah ambassador, just two weeks after Dr. Dre had a Grammy Award named after him, represents the latest example of a man being celebrated while onlookers contemplate the thorny totality of their legacy. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 18 Feb. 2023 Raibert is not prepared to talk about the design directions his team might contemplate. IEEE Spectrum, 11 Feb. 2023 As 2023 begins and executives contemplate how to plan for a year that promises to bring its own unique nuances and complexities, companies need to think about how to position their accounting departments for a successful year. Forbes, 3 Jan. 2023 The latest suits, filed earlier this year, come as the company is forced to reckon with its other uses of asbestos — and contemplate a future without it. Kathleen Mcgrory, ProPublica, 27 Oct. 2022 Imagining a demon that could disrupt the flow forces physicists to contemplate what the second law actually means. Sophia Chen, WIRED, 14 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contemplate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


borrowed from Latin contemplātus, past participle of contemplāre, contemplārī "to look at fixedly, observe, notice, ponder," from con- con- + -templāre, -templārī, verbal derivative of templum "space of sky or land delimited orally by an augur, sacred precinct, building consecrated to a deity" — more at temple entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1533, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of contemplate was circa 1533

Dictionary Entries Near contemplate

Cite this Entry

“Contemplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


con·​tem·​plate ˈkänt-əm-ˌplāt How to pronounce contemplate (audio)
contemplated; contemplating
: to view or consider with careful and thoughtful attention
: to have in mind : plan on
contemplating a trip
contemplator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on contemplate

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