Definition of contemplate in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Look thoughtfully for a long time at.

    ‘he sat on the carpet contemplating his image in the mirrors’
    • ‘This week's gap in their Championship programme allows Yorkshire to contemplate the batting and bowling averages - and they won't be happy with what they discover.’
    • ‘We contemplate the photographic image, how it is a site of loss and remembrance, the life preserved in it an ironic reminder of death.’
    • ‘I shall be in a study contemplating a bust of Keats looking as though he is contemplating a bust of Homer.’
    • ‘Visitors are greeted by an image of Hamlet contemplating a mouse.’
    • ‘I soon no longer had time to contemplate such things, though, because I had to all but run to keep up with Mr. Fitzgerald through the airport.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The older woman seemed to be contemplating something, though she knew not what.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As an interesting tangent to that she's been contemplating the potent image of the disembodied of the disembodied brain throughout history and in popular culture.’
    • ‘To what extent does film's latest technology give us pause as we contemplate film's images of the technological?’
    • ‘He looked as though he was contemplating art, any minute he'd ask her whether grey-shaded or coloured images created a greater impact.’
    • ‘It has been sobering, though, contemplating the terrible unstoppability of water.’
    • ‘Completed in 1815, Friedrich's image shows an inquiring lone figure withdrawn and contemplating the new world.’
    • ‘To the trecento Franciscan contemplating the images in the lower church, Judas represented a failed friar as well as a fallen Apostle.’
    • ‘Mr. Olivera paused for a moment - almost as though contemplating the situation, her voice ringing through his ears.’
    • ‘Tapan contemplated the cracked image of his own face in that mirror for a long time.’
    • ‘No doubt they thought there would be benefits from contemplating the images of Mom, Her Son, and his tragic story.’
    • ‘When you contemplate my image, in a week or a month, I'll try to feel your presence from afar.’
    • ‘In the previous episode during the first dance Claire captures Nate's image as he contemplates a seagull picking at the wedding cake.’
    • ‘Evan let his left hand slide away from the computer terminal as he spoke, thoughtfully contemplating the carpeted floor for a moment.’
    look at, view, regard, examine, inspect, observe, survey, study, scrutinize, scan, stare at, gaze at, eye, take a good look at
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Think about.
      ‘the results of a trade war are too horrifying to contemplate’
      • ‘I spent some time yesterday contemplating my future work career.’
      • ‘No wonder she is contemplating a future role in politics.’
      • ‘In its place is a man contemplating a future outwith his control.’
      • ‘Frankie and Monnie will be an inspiration to anyone else in the future who might be contemplating taking up a challenge in which the odds are stacked against them.’
      • ‘She has also resigned from that candidacy to contemplate her future options.’
      • ‘At the antiquarian book and paper event I began contemplating a collection of examples of antique handwriting to complement my fountain pens.’
      • ‘And, during the dwindling seconds of her last game, she started to contemplate her future.’
      • ‘Globalization activists face hard choices now as they contemplate the future of the movement.’
      • ‘Five years ago, Mark was contemplating his future as a cyclist.’
      • ‘As I contemplated my future as a father, I saw my past in a new light.’
      • ‘He began contemplating a political race before his 16-year-old son died in a 1996 car crash.’
      • ‘I boarded a plane for 20 hours of flying - lots of time to reflect on the past and contemplate the future.’
      • ‘The amateur show jumper is contemplating his future in the sport.’
      • ‘While the hectic pace at work has slowed down some, we now have time to contemplate the future.’
      • ‘I admit I have become increasingly frustrated by the low number of hits on my site, so I took a few days off to feel sorry for myself and contemplate my blogging future.’
      • ‘It can feel like an overwhelming position but one that you are considering if you have begun to contemplate your readiness.’
      • ‘I had begun to contemplate the possibility of a life entirely without her.’
      • ‘We are only now beginning to contemplate the real issues of being Independent and socially responsible for whatever happens here.’
      • ‘I think they're vast and we can barely begin to contemplate them.’
      • ‘And I'll just be spending the next period of months in the lead-up to Christmas contemplating my longer-term future.’
      think about, meditate on, meditate over, consider, ponder, reflect about, reflect on, mull over, muse on, dwell on, deliberate over, cogitate about, cogitate on, ruminate about, ruminate on, chew over, brood about, brood on, puzzle over, turn over in one's mind, weigh up
      consider, think about, give thought to
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2no object Think profoundly and at length; meditate.
      ‘he sat morosely contemplating’
      • ‘Three meals a day are taken in a group, but in silence and as another form of meditation, as each mouthful is slowly chewed and contemplated.’
      • ‘Found a nice spot on the cement embankment, away from the spray, and sat down to contemplate on life.’
      • ‘My first teacher practiced for a long time with Quakers because they were the only group in her area that found the same value in sitting still and contemplating.’
      • ‘They need time to quietly review, contemplate, journal, mull over, and reflect about their attitudes and actions.’
      • ‘The books, then, organize a continuing meditation on connections that is more important to contemplate and consider than to solve as if it were a puzzle.’
      • ‘We want it to be used by the community and for people to sit in the quiet and contemplate as much as possible and this money will help us do that.’
      • ‘These are some of the considerations we are now contemplating.’
      • ‘The explanation is still worrying to contemplate.’
      • ‘As students speculate, stop and contemplate, little evidence to its precursor can be found.’
      • ‘It's a real gem and a great place to sit and contemplate, with cliffs rising behind.’
      • ‘I sat there contemplating when he asked me something.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I sit there for a while chewing and contemplating, which I think can be considered multitasking.’
      • ‘Loneliness simply isn't an excuse for what Jones had been contemplating for some considerable time.’
      • ‘She pulled into the parking lot and just sat there, contemplating.’
      • ‘It's at times like these when I sit and contemplate and plot.’
      • ‘As Boone sits on the beach contemplating what could have been, he turns to look at Jack with a resentment that goes unnoticed.’
      • ‘He sat, contemplating, then said, ‘You look far better in white than any other color, I say,’’
      • ‘She sat there contemplating awhile before she excused herself.’
      • ‘The group would be responsible for encouraging people to visit the cemetery to use it as a quiet place to sit and contemplate.’
      think, think about, consider, give thought to, give consideration to, mull over, meditate, meditate on, muse, muse on, ponder, ponder on, ponder over, reflect, reflect on, deliberate, deliberate about, deliberate on, ruminate, ruminate about, ruminate on, ruminate over, dwell on, brood, brood on, brood over, agonize, agonize over, worry, worry about, chew over, puzzle, puzzle over, speculate about, weigh up, revolve, turn over in one's mind, review, study, be in a brown study
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3 Have in mind as a probable though not certain intention.
      ‘she was contemplating a gold mining venture’
      • ‘On the last day of our stay, we took a break from the past to contemplate the area's ecological future.’
      • ‘It would seem to provide for the maximum liability in relation to payment of damages contemplated by the provision.’
      • ‘A similar project was being contemplated in the Riverstown area but that was in the early stages at the moment.’
      • ‘That is not the type of special damage contemplated by Boyce and the other cases.’
      • ‘So also the theory of probabilities contemplates the numerical measure of the circumstances upon which expectation is founded; and this object embraces the whole range of its legitimate applications.’
      • ‘I pulled the plug from the socket quick as quick and contemplated the damage.’
      • ‘It does not contemplate damage of the present type.’
      • ‘They had to work out how long Evans would stick around if he was given a wad of money and they even contemplated a joint venture to spread the risk.’
      • ‘How many will be able to start a family, or buy a house or go back to university for further study when they contemplate the implications?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But when we actually contemplated some evil intention directed towards us, it seemed a little chillier.’
      • ‘The capital costs of starting a sugar estate were so high by 1860 that only rich capitalists or companies could contemplate such a venture.’
      • ‘It's a short trip from the stadium where France's campaign ended, but a long journey on which to contemplate the seismic damage done to the reputation of French football and footballers.’
      • ‘That could create uncertainty for non-residents who may be contemplating venture capital investment in New Zealand.’
      • ‘I think it's all about what people are open to at this point in their journey… I find that when you contemplate this area of life more, it comes to you more and more.’
      • ‘So why is nobody scrambling to acquire them or at least contemplate a joint venture?’
      • ‘He looked at each of the closest planets and their moons, contemplating each one's probability to hold an alien base.’
      • ‘Alexander stood at the edge of the balcony for a moment, contemplating the quandary, intently observed by Constantine.’
      • ‘For distraction I forced myself to contemplate my next entrepreneurial venture.’
      • ‘Referee Phil Dowd never contemplated the penalty Fulham probably deserved.’


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