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

Essential Meaning of contemplate

1 : to think deeply or carefully about (something) I stopped to contemplate [=ponder] what might have happened. He contemplated the meaning of the poem for a long time. Life without them is too awful to contemplate. [=too awful to even think about]
2 : to think deeply I'd like some time to just sit and contemplate.
3 : to think about doing (something) : consider She's contemplating moving to the city. = She's contemplating a move to the city. They're contemplating marriage. [=they're thinking about getting married]

Full Definition of contemplate

transitive verb

1 : to view or consider with continued attention : meditate on contemplate the vastness of the universe contemplated the meaning of the poem
2 : 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

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Other Words from contemplate

contemplator \ ˈkän-​təm-​ˌplā-​tər How to pronounce contemplate (audio) , -​ˌtem \ 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

Examples of contemplate in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Majority owner Joe Lacob, who’s eager to make up for all the gate revenue lost during the pandemic, likely can’t contemplate such a dooms-day scenario. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 26 Sep. 2021 East contemplate both its congregational and civic missions before selecting a permanent senior pastor. The Salt Lake Tribune, 22 Sep. 2021 Senses Fail will release a vinyl album of their concert, but their plan does not contemplate future viewings of the video. Eric Fuller, Forbes, 19 Sep. 2021 Another year, another brand new iPhone to contemplate buying. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 17 Sep. 2021 But the study doesn't contemplate shutting down the canal system to navigation, only the locks that provide access to and from Lake Michigan. Dan Egan,, 30 Aug. 2021 Plus, so its terms do not contemplate a streaming release. Gene Maddaus, Variety, 21 Aug. 2021 In late May, Lewellen began to contemplate a decapitating strike against the southern Albemarle’s revolutionary elite. Brendan Mcconville, Time, 28 Sep. 2021 Because of this, Xavier starts to contemplate another idea. Kyle Fowle,, 24 Sep. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of contemplate

circa 1533, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for contemplate

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

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Learn More About contemplate

Time Traveler for contemplate

Time Traveler

The first known use of contemplate was circa 1533

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contemplate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for contemplate


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

Kids Definition of contemplate

1 : to look at with careful and thoughtful attention
2 : to think about deeply and carefully
3 : to have in mind : plan on Maybe we should contemplate a trip to Europe.

More from Merriam-Webster on contemplate

Nglish: Translation of contemplate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contemplate for Arabic Speakers


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