Share this entry

contemplate Line breaks: con|tem|plate
Pronunciation: /ˈkɒntɛmpleɪt/

Definition of contemplate in English:


[with object]
1Look thoughtfully for a long time at: he contemplated his image in the mirrors
More example sentences
  • Evan let his left hand slide away from the computer terminal as he spoke, thoughtfully contemplating the carpeted floor for a moment.
  • Nancy replied, sitting on a chair opposite me and pulling her knees up to her chest, resting her chin on her knees as she contemplated me thoughtfully.
  • Sitting on her bed she contemplated the phone thoughtfully - well if Nathan wasn't around he couldn't stop her from making a quick phone call.
look at, view, regard, examine, inspect, observe, survey, study, scrutinize, scan, stare at, gaze at, eye, take a good look at
literary behold
1.1Think about: she couldn’t even begin to contemplate the future
More example sentences
  • I boarded a plane for 20 hours of flying - lots of time to reflect on the past and contemplate the future.
  • It can feel like an overwhelming position but one that you are considering if you have begun to contemplate your readiness.
  • He began contemplating a political race before his 16-year-old son died in a 1996 car crash.
consider, think about, give thought to;
have in mind/view, envisage, aim at, foresee, imagine, visualize;
intend, propose, mean to, expect to
1.2 [no object] Think deeply and at length: he sat morosely contemplating
More example sentences
  • As Boone sits on the beach contemplating what could have been, he turns to look at Jack with a resentment that goes unnoticed.
  • Seats carved with verses - many referring to Lady Mary and her empathy with the scenery - have been placed at strategic intervals along the route, to sit and contemplate.
  • It's at times like these when I sit and contemplate and plot.
1.3Have in view as a probable intention: he was contemplating action for damages
More example sentences
  • But when we actually contemplated some evil intention directed towards us, it seemed a little chillier.
  • The book forced me to contemplate my own intentions in participating in a graduate education program that has a partnership with a predominantly Black school.
  • Alexander stood at the edge of the balcony for a moment, contemplating the quandary, intently observed by Constantine.


Late 16th century: from Latin contemplat- 'surveyed, observed, contemplated', from the verb contemplari, based on templum 'place for observation'.



Pronunciation: /ˈkɒntəmpleɪtə/
Example sentences
  • We remain passive spectators, rational contemplators, reflecting on our experience.
  • As expected, many participants were in the preparation stage of change; a quarter were precontemplators, and a fifth contemplators.
  • For example, while contemplators need to be shown ways to move themselves to action, precontemplators need to be made aware that health risks are associated with their current behaviour.

Words that rhyme with contemplate


Definition of contemplate in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day haughty
Pronunciation: ˈhôdē
arrogantly superior and disdainful