Definition of contemplation in US English:



  • 1The action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time.

    ‘the road is too busy for leisurely contemplation of the scenery’
    • ‘He replied and returned to his contemplations, though slightly less concerned.’
    • ‘He most assuredly took on the look of deep and pensive thought, but to this man, all considerations and contemplations had been properly examined.’
    • ‘His first groan brought Raven out of her contemplations abruptly.’
    • ‘Taking these contemplations to heart one realizes the futility of relying on mundane sources of refuge such as money, friends, family, etc., and turns one's thoughts to practice.’
    • ‘For sources that give contemplations on two stages of bones, the whole skeleton and the disjointed bones are designated as distinct objects for meditation in two sequential stages.’
    • ‘Misty's voice brought Ri back out of her ill-timed contemplations.’
    • ‘From time to time the narrative, such as it is, is interrupted by the author's contemplations upon life.’
    • ‘Ironically, varying thoughts and contemplations within the imposed borders are presented as freedom of thought and speech.’
    • ‘Reviving himself from his contemplations, Jonathan got up and stretched luxuriously before striding purposefully to his desk and examined the items left there by Thom.’
    • ‘In an instant all five were asleep, minds clouded with thoughts and contemplations on what to do next.’
    • ‘There is thus a discernible irony here insofar as every ethnographer's reflexive contemplations of his/her accounts of social systems are likewise conditioned by systems of social relations.’
    • ‘Who wants to read your snivelling contemplations?’
    • ‘With those words, Juset left the room, softly shutting the door behind her, leaving Tarach to his own thoughts and contemplations once again.’
    • ‘And yet, when it's all said and done, his contemplations on humanity aren't half as profound as he'd like us to believe they are.’
    • ‘It wouldn't do to have people barging in on her contemplations.’
    • ‘Although Emily's contemplations can feel overwritten and her symbolism heavy-handed, her engagingly angsty personality draws us in.’
    • ‘This all makes it sound as if the day was a scowly procession of silly panic and glum contemplations; it was anything but.’
    • ‘During the next stage, it could turn out that his contemplations could be true.’
    • ‘He would often pause in his chores around the farm and gazing at the sky for a long time before coming out of his contemplations with a jerk and resuming the task at hand.’
    • ‘A lot of my recent contemplations have evolved around being challenged out of my comfort zone.’
    viewing, regarding, examination, inspection, observation, survey, study, scrutiny, scanning, staring at, gazing at, eyeing
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Deep reflective thought.
      ‘he would retire to his room for study or contemplation’
      • ‘A few people are seated here in deep contemplation, probably on what next to do in life.’
      • ‘Airen had been lost in deep concentration and contemplation when she felt something nudge her shoulder.’
      • ‘The door was silent for a moment, as if in deep contemplation.’
      • ‘Glancing back to him, I noticed he looked as if he was in deep contemplation.’
      • ‘But I know that moving in a universe operating on Balkan time, no question should be answered too hastily, and without deep contemplation.’
      • ‘One devours a rabbit-like animal as another sits in deep contemplation.’
      • ‘Dmitri frowned, musing over some deep contemplation.’
      • ‘The scans were compared with similar measurements taken during the monks' normal waking state, producing an insight into the neurological effects of the process of deep contemplation.’
      • ‘So today, I am in a place of contemplation and reflection about how to remedy the mouse situation.’
      • ‘There he took shelter in the shade of a welcoming pipal tree and began a long period of deep contemplation.’
      • ‘She appears to be in deep, concerned contemplation.’
      • ‘To understand strategy requires deep contemplation and endless study.’
      • ‘But even for a few of those lucky superstars, it just comes naturally, without any deep contemplation.’
      • ‘But the discovery immediately sent me into deep moral contemplation.’
      • ‘Granted, a film doesn't always need to make a person think or cause deep contemplation, but is good dialogue too much to ask?’
      • ‘Arthur does not slip easily into introspection, he is too sprightly a personality for deep contemplation.’
      • ‘I bear the fruit of two years' deep contemplation!’
      • ‘Before he could get very far, he saw a familiar young woman staring out one of the windows, most likely in deep contemplation.’
      • ‘The low protective wall, the height of a seated figure, allows protection for people to sit in reflective contemplation.’
      • ‘He always sat like that when he was in deep contemplation.’
      thought, meditation, consideration, pondering, reflection, thinking, musing, rumination, deliberation, cogitation, reverie, concentration, introspection
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The state of being thought about or planned.
      • ‘Rolf blanched and then sat in contemplation over the subject.’
      • ‘Why should not the defendant ought to foresee that they were persons who could be affected by his act and have them in contemplation when it backed the forklift over the deceased?’
      • ‘An oblong of pebbles and short posts anchored by a gnarled, leafless tree creates the isolated beach where Braidie retreats in contemplation.’
      • ‘No evidence is before the court that any new appliance is under design or construction - or even in contemplation, within the jurisdiction.’
      • ‘Hitherto such communications have only been protected when they have been in contemplation of some litigation, or for the purpose of giving advice or obtaining evidence with reference to it.’
      • ‘Whether a service is performed or engaged in contemplation of adversarial proceedings in court is essentially a matter of judgment.’
      • ‘The result would be no different than if a third party, not otherwise engaged in contemplation of legal proceedings, had undertaken such additional activities.’
      • ‘At the time this prospectus was issued, was it still in contemplation that working capital would come from loan finance provided by outside bankers?’
      • ‘The question was whether the privilege was confined to cases where legal proceedings were already in contemplation.’
      • ‘In other words, it was in contemplation that the dividend would be declared and paid because the purchaser had undertaken the agreement to fund it.’
      • ‘Should routine laboratory reports made in contemplation of prosecution be inadmissible if the technician does not testify?’
      • ‘Juska is momentarily self-conscious as she realises that neighbouring diners have put down their forks in contemplation of her possible murder.’
      • ‘Under that statute, judges have discretion to order return of any gift made in contemplation of marriage, in the event the marriage never takes place.’
      • ‘The mind bends in contemplation of her ceaseless ability to reapply herself.’
      • ‘The case was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, meaning if he stayed out of trouble for six months, the charges would disappear and the file be sealed.’
      • ‘So one has to then find out what the connection was in contemplation of the Parliament, as it were, to use inaccurate language again, I suppose.’
      • ‘These are matters which we've already had in contemplation.’
      • ‘After, shaking her head back and forth in contemplation she reached out and broke one in half and then as if sneaking a CIA document looked around before eating it.’
      • ‘My recollection is that one of the most controversial issues at the time this legislation was in contemplation was the position of trustee companies of superannuation funds.’
      • ‘So a time is reached in the selling of the Village, assuming no further development is in contemplation, when the entrepreneur has no continuing interest in it?’
    3. 1.3 Religious meditation.
      • ‘Religious contemplation through the medium of song and dance.’
      • ‘It was not for the few who, because of their personal aptitude, should feel drawn to a life of a so-called spiritual meditation and contemplation.’
      • ‘Theology is the mystical contemplation of God by the creatively receptive consciousness of the mind and heart.’
      • ‘I was reaping the benefits of all of the good foundation work of concentration, meditation and contemplation that had been given to me at an early age.’
      • ‘We need to approach each teaching with three different attitudes: first by listening, or hearing, second by contemplation, third by meditation.’
      • ‘After hearing the dharma and becoming familiar with it through contemplation and meditation, we are able to take compassion as the basis of our daily activity.’
      • ‘By simple definition, meditation is engagement in contemplation, especially of a spiritual or devotional nature.’
      • ‘Far from being a Spartan retreat of the kind normally associated with religious contemplation, ministers who did visit lived a life of luxury.’
      • ‘It takes on an ambience of solemnity, filled with memory, contemplation, and meditation.’
      • ‘Practicing meditation and contemplation is how we purify our mind, just as we polish a crystal ball, so that we can actually see the full display of radiance.’
      • ‘Hours of quiet meditation and contemplation upon the fundamental meaning of existence and relationship to the world around them would seem to have been the pattern of their lives.’
      • ‘No one can doubt that much that is decent in the human experience is owed to the restraint of contemplation within a received religious framework.’
      • ‘And I'm actually standing near the universal temple, where anyone is welcome to come for meditation or silent contemplation.’
      • ‘That started to look a lot like traditional forms of meditation or contemplation.’
      • ‘But by ascetic restraint and by introspective contemplation, the soul can ascend to its true fulfilment.’
      • ‘Religions adopted it as a symbol for contemplation and meditation.’
      • ‘I usually follow it with meditation and contemplation.’
      • ‘Did they even make a clear distinction between meditation and contemplation?’
      • ‘However, my own encounters were always frameworked in regular meditation and contemplation, music and art… so you need to tend to your inner energies like a garden.’
      • ‘Today we hear a lot about the yearning for spiritual simplicity and silent contemplation.’
    4. 1.4 (in Christian spirituality) a form of prayer or meditation in which a person seeks to pass beyond mental images and concepts to a direct experience of the divine.
      • ‘The life of contemplation seeks openness to and acceptance of reality as God's.’
      • ‘The rosary is one of the traditional paths of Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ's face.’
      • ‘And now that they may be expelled and annihilated they are brought to light and seen clearly through the illumination of this dark light of divine contemplation.’
      • ‘More than prayer, contemplation constitutes a way of life or a fundamental orientation.’
      • ‘Returning to our contemplation of Christ, let us look next at two three-fold cords in the Scriptures that attest the sinlessness of Christ.’
      • ‘In 1836, after several weeks of prayer and contemplation, he was converted and baptized into the membership of a Baptist church.’
      • ‘This leads us into mysticism as the spiritual quality of staying in pure contemplation in the divine presence.’
      • ‘Inside, the aisles were packed with at least six or seven tour groups of varying nationality making such a hubbub that any contemplation or prayer would have been impossible.’
      • ‘The inner meaning of the story is that we all have to escape our own tigers, negative emotions like greed, jealousy and anger, by contemplation, meditation and prayer.’
      • ‘Christian contemplation, as he later undertakes in a work such as The Trinity, is spiritual discipline applied to the doctrines of the church.’
      • ‘For five years, he lived a life of meditation, of deep communion with nature during excursions into the mountains, of contemplation, and of prayer.’
      • ‘If you feel Christmas should be a time of quiet prayer and contemplation, then a retreat could be just what you're looking for, and by the time you return all the fuss will be over for another year.’
      • ‘This can mean taking five to 10 minutes each morning or evening for quiet contemplation and prayer.’
      • ‘He balances imaginative contemplation of Christ's Passion with calls to ascetic efforts, regarding each as balancing and correcting the dangers of the other.’
      • ‘But a very different view found its expression in early monasticism, where wealth and its temptations were seen as a constant threat to Christian contemplation.’
      • ‘It is the Word of God set to music - its constant gentle repetitive quality allows deep contemplation and prayer on the sentiments that it expresses.’
      • ‘For Erasmus, divine contemplation was synonymous with idleness and monkish solitude was nothing more than baneful selfishness.’
      • ‘Though shattered and disillusioned, he held onto his dream of getting away from ordinary life in order to pursue prayer and contemplation.’
      • ‘He and the Church are entering a period of reflection, contemplation, and prayer.’
      • ‘His views are echoed by others in the town who stress the importance of allowing access for prayer and contemplation - particularly in troubled times.’


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin contemplatio(n-), from the verb contemplari (see contemplate).