Definition of contention in US English:



  • 1Heated disagreement.

    ‘the captured territory was one of the main areas of contention between the two countries’
    • ‘One of the main points of contention between the two sides was shift scheduling.’
    • ‘This diversity is one of the main points of contention between astrologers themselves.’
    • ‘Ownership has long been a source of contention in the Irish newspaper industry.’
    • ‘The pound in a pensioner's pocket or purse has become the latest point of contention for politicians.’
    • ‘The absence of independent testing of milk has been a source of contention for years.’
    • ‘But it's not hard to see why this funding bottom line is the main point of contention here.’
    • ‘So the only area of contention is the area of where we are investigating behaviour that may be unlawful.’
    • ‘Roth says he was immediately drawn to the novel, which had a history of contention all its own.’
    • ‘An e-voting system like this is an invitation for fraud, and sure to be a point of contention when the votes are counted.’
    • ‘The basis for this contention among British doctors seems even more tenuous.’
    • ‘It has been the origin of a lot of discord and a lot of contention over consents.’
    • ‘A common area of contention is the time the new home will be complete.’
    • ‘The appellants dispute this contention by reference to the principle as formulated by them.’
    • ‘Sea power's dominance, however, has been a point of contention among military historians.’
    • ‘It plainly indicates that a controversy or contention has arisen between the parties.’
    • ‘The defendant disputes the claimant's contention that they failed in their duty to notify and consult.’
    • ‘One of the main points of contention is the executive compensation issue.’
    • ‘One area of contention is whether a confession made by a co-defendant may be tendered by a defendant.’
    • ‘Another area of much contention is the desired level of channel control sought by the manufacturer.’
    • ‘Last night he had put himself in medal contention in the decathlon.’
    disagreement, dispute, disputation, argument, variance
    View synonyms
  • 2An assertion, especially one maintained in argument.

    ‘statistics bear out his contention that many runners are undertrained for this event’
    • ‘There are, almost daily, reporters' observations, columnists' opinions and e-mail complaints that support my contentions.’
    • ‘It is my contention that she didn't really betray anyone, and that the real agents of betrayal in all of this are the media.’
    • ‘This event also paints a picture somewhat at odds with the respondent's contentions that the applicant had no significant input into Xavier's life.’
    • ‘On teen pregnancy I have to say that official statistics do not support her contention.’
    • ‘He repeated his earlier contention that the country has enough food to feed its people.’
    • ‘We say that if it is necessary, the second respondent in its argument has raised a contention.’
    • ‘In view of their Lordships, however, such a contention is not maintainable.’
    • ‘But to this point, the administration has offered few direct answers to the particular contentions of the critics.’
    • ‘These contentions were borne out by my direct observation of the police handling of numerous disputes.’
    • ‘Their contentions are theoretical and ideological, not based on reality.’
    • ‘It is my contention that the two groups simply have radically different registers and types of interaction.’
    • ‘I am not saying you do not have arguments against the contentions the applicant would wish to make.’
    • ‘I agree with her contention that the debate was a good thing for the party, as argued below.’
    • ‘It is not my contention that information must needs run on a parallel track to entertainment.’
    • ‘Hence the contentions and the arguments of the plaintiff are weak and not legitimate.’
    • ‘The statement and evidence of the defendant contains strong specific contentions that the prosecution is politically motivated.’
    • ‘There are many, many arguments to consider and contentions to examine.’
    • ‘Indeed, my contention is that everyone in his movies is completely real.’
    • ‘In our view there are two conclusive answers to these contentions.’
    • ‘It is my contention that the difference between a monarchy and a republic would be symbolic only.’
    argument, claim, plea, submission, allegation
    View synonyms


  • in (or out of) contention

    • Having a good chance of success in a contest.

      ‘he was in contention for the batting title in September’
      • ‘Will he get enough votes outside the town to keep him in the race and in contention for a seat?’
      • ‘The blunder took him out of contention for the presidential nomination.’
      • ‘We were one of the smallest teams there that was in contention and we ended up fourth.’
      • ‘I have a lot more confidence that, if I just play my game, I'll have a chance to be in contention on the weekend.’
      • ‘If he could come in around 6,000 he will be in serious contention for the last seat.’
      • ‘If that nine holes had been successful and he'd got to remain in contention, he might well have had a good season.’
      • ‘The club has been running for three years and a number of the teams are now in contention for league titles.’
      • ‘It was nice to get back there again and be in contention with a chance to win coming up the back nine on Sunday.’
      • ‘Both sides are very much in contention for a place in the semi-finals of the competition.’
      • ‘His team is out of contention, with virtually no hope of playing in the World Series.’
      • ‘Players darted into contention and equally swiftly darted out again, but a precious few stayed with it until the end.’
      • ‘You know, I'm sure this year we'll have the equipment to be in contention of winning races.’
      • ‘I wanted to test out trying to stay in contention for the whole race, rather than just going for individual stage wins.’
      • ‘Serious questions remain as to the readiness, willingness and fitness to lead of those in main contention.’
      • ‘The true aim is to get back in contention, and for that to deliver a sense of contentment that is long overdue.’
      • ‘So players who did not turn up for training with the County team ruled themselves out of contention.’
      • ‘The day when those who have made the cut try to haul themselves into contention for the big prizes.’
      • ‘He's got to get his head down and fight his way back into contention.’
      • ‘A win here would be very useful and get us back into contention in the league.’
      • ‘He feels clearing that height at the Olympics is good enough to make the final and put him in medal contention.’
      in competition, competing, contesting, contending, challenging, vying
      View synonyms


Late Middle English: from Latin contentio(n-), from contendere ‘strive with’ (see contend).